Phil Merten, a La Jolla Community Planning Association trustee, gave a presentation to the La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) Nov. 13 on the evolution of the advisory committees that help with decision-making at the Shores.
Merten explained the origin and development of various groups and documents, such as the La Jolla Community Plan, La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance, La Jolla Shores Design Manual, La Jolla Shores Local Coastal Program, La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee and even the La Jolla Community Planning Association.
It all started with a group called La Jollans Incorporated, Merten explained. “With the expansion of UC San Diego, people started to move in and the area started to change,” he said. “Commercial development began and by the late 1960s, the citizens of La Jolla, through a group called La Jollans Inc., became concerned about the direction their community was taking.”
So La Jollans Inc. met with the City of San Diego to help create the La Jolla Community Plan (published in 1967). Within the Community Plan was the La Jolla Shores Precise Plan, “where the La Jolla Shores Association had their input to lend some direction to how the Shores should go,” Merten said.
However, a few years later, in 1972, California’s Proposition 20 established the California Coastal Act, which put the California Coastal Commission in charge of managing development in coastal zones, muddling the Precise Plan.
In 1974, the La Jolla Shores Design Manual was adopted as the official planning guide by the City of San Diego. The city also — after review by the Coastal Commission — adopted the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (PDO) as the implementing ordinance for this manual.
Merten summarized the Design Manual: “To conserve the important design characters of La Jolla Shores, some uniformity in detail, scale, proportion, texture, material, color and building form is necessary. ... The La Jolla Shores PDO says before (the city) issues a permit for development in the Shores, it has to see how the project stacks up against this manual.”
In the interest of efficiency, the Coastal Commission challenged the communities along the coast to adopt a community plan. If those plans were in accordance with state coastal act policies, the state would turn over administration of the coastal act to the local communities.
In 1983, La Jollans Inc. developed the La Jolla Shores Local Coastal Program. “The City of San Diego is unique in that it recognizes that the characteristic of the communities are different and a one-size-fits-all zoning regulation is not conducive to maintaining those unique characteristics,” Merten said. Around that time, La Jollans Inc. made another important change, it became the La Jolla Community Planning Association (CPA).
Despite having unifying documents to dictate development, different community groups had different opinions they would present on proposed land development.
In the 1980s, the La Jolla Shores Association, the La Jolla Town Council and the CPA were heavily involved in land planning and each group would make recommendations on major projects. “So if somebody had a controversial project before the San Diego City Council, there would be three different groups, all representing La Jolla, all with different attitudes about the project,” he said.