Copley Press property in La Jolla one step closer to sale, development

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Artist rendering of a 25,000-square-foot estate home proposed for The Reserve, off Country Club Drive at Romero Drive (based on design guidelines established for the project).

By Pat Sherman

The final asset of the Copley Press — 25 ocean-view acres off Country Club Drive adjacent the late David Copley's Fox Hill compound — is one step closer to being developed and sold.

During its Dec. 10 meeting, the Development Permit Review (DPR) committee voted unanimously to approve the most recent design plans for the project.

La Jolla-based Alcorn & Benton Architects, which first presented the plans to the DPR more than a year ago, made substantial changes to the project based on feedback from DPR members and residents, including a reduction in the buildings’ height, chimney size and location on the property.

The project includes the sale of two parcels to be developed as estate homes, each accompanied by strict design guidelines specifying everything from the type of fencing and driveways, to the homes’ height, and the height and type of trees allowed.

The project requires site, coastal and project development permits, as well as a vesting tentative map for a home of 5,000 square feet and another of 25,000 square feet (the latter of which may include a guest house or pool house).

The city requires the buyers to record a covenant of easement that will set aside 75 percent of the property (aka The Reserve) as open space.

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Artist rendering of a 5,000-square-foot home proposed for The Reserve, off Country Club Drive at Encelia Drive. As a concession to residents of the adjacent La Jolla Summit community, the home was tucked into the hillside and its height reduced by five feet.

“Certain standards have to be met for maintenance and keeping invasive (plant) species out,” said project representative Greg Shannon, with Sedona Pacific real estate. “Basically what the city’s done is say we want to preserve the habitat in its natural condition, but we want you private people to pay for it.”

The covenant is enforceable by the city and agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Basically, it’s a legal document,” Shannon said. “If we don’t comply, they take us to court.”

Shannon said original plans included a trail system for residents and the public that would connect with La Jolla Country Club, though the city nixed those plans.

The site falls within several zones of the La Jolla Community Plan (each with their own restrictions), including: coastal overlay, coastal height, parking impact, brush management, very high fire hazard and earthquake fault buffer.

Asked if the buyers could later subdivide the parcels, developing multiple, smaller homes, Shannon said they could, theoretically, though they could not disturb or develop any of the open space area. Dividing the parcels would require the property owners to return to community planning groups and the city for a new discretionary review and permits.

“Why anyone would want to go through this process is a mystery,” Shannon said.

To address drainage concerns, the project will include three bio-retention basins that collect storm water and filter out silt, solids and some pollutants before releasing it into an adjacent canyon, where it will flow to a storm drain below.

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A representative from Hayer Architecture discusses revisions made to the Harbach home plans, which received unanimous support from DPR members last month, during a final review of the project.

“The water in that storm drain eventually (flows) down to the beach,” Shannon said.

Any driveways must be made with porous concrete, which allows water to flow into an underground stormwater detention system, where it is released into the bio-retention system for filtering.

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