La Jolla community planners grapple with board election challenge, appeal revised Whale Watch Way project ... and more

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Despite the addition of a ‘basement’ to reduce its perceived gross floor area, LJCPA trustees say the redesign of this proposed futuristic home (pictured is an artists’ rendering) on Whale Watch Way does not change the look of its exterior nor its pending impact on the neighborhood. The LJCPA is appealing a city hearing officer’s approval of the plans. Courtesy

By Pat Sherman

During a July 9 special meeting of the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA), the group announced the results of its July 3 special election, in which standing members voted to fill two open seats on the group’s 18-person board of directors.

Cindy Greatrex

, the La Jolla Town Council’s immediate past president, received 52 votes, while former LJCPA trustee

Mike Costello

, who presently serves on the LJCPA’s Development Permit Review committee, received 43 votes. Architect

Michael Morton

received 15 votes.

Greatrex and Costello are to be seated at the beginning of the group’s August meeting. However, whether Costello retains his seat is pending the results of a challenge to the LJCPA’s March trustee election, which was filed with the mayor’s office by Bob Whitney of the La Jolla Association. During its August meeting, LJCPA trustees will discuss the city’s response to the challenge, and the city’s recommendations for corrective action — chief among them, that Morton be seated as LJCPA trustee.

Although Morton ran for a trustee seat in March, also receiving the fewest votes (14), a June 26 response letter to the LJCPA from Bill Fulton, the city’s Director of Planning, Neighborhoods and Economic Development, includes a recommendation from city staff that Morton be seated as a trustee. If Morton were seated, he would occupy the seat the LJCPA would otherwise confer to Costello next month.

The crux of the challenge: current LJVMA board president

Joe LaCava

was re-elected in March, receiving the most votes of any candidate (68), although he now exceeds the LJCPA term limit of six years (or two consecutive three-year terms). Per the LJCPA’s bylaws, a candidate may exceed term limits by two years if there are not enough viable candidates running for available seats, and they receive two-thirds majority of the vote, which LaCava did in March. He ran again at the urging of fellow trustees who say they respect his commitment to LJCPA and capacity to head the group as board president.

However, Fulton’s letter said the LJCPA should have stated on its election ballot that “new candidates (Morton) have priority over candidates exceeding term limits.” In April, LJCPA trustees disagreed with that assessment, opining that as long as a candidate is exceeding term limits with two-thirds of the vote, no candidate should receive priority.

According to LaCava, the city’s response to the election challenge is merely advisory, as outlined in City Council Policy 600-24: “The city does not direct or recommend the election of specified individual members, nor does the city appoint members to planning groups, or recommend removal of individual members of a planning group.”

However, LaCava noted, there are ramifications in that policy for not following the city’s advice: “Where a planning group does not cure a violation by itself, it may forfeit its status as a recognized advisory body.” (The LJCPA makes recommendations to the city in regard to land use, planning and infrastructure projects in La Jolla).

Responding to other issues raised in the election challenge, Fulton noted that the LJCPA’s failure to publicly appoint and have trustees ratify its election subcommittee in advance was satisfactorily remedied by ratifying the election committee during the group’s April meeting.

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