City Council member Barbara Bry talks short-term rentals, mansionization, issues affecting La Jolla at Bird Rock meeting

San Diego City Council member Barbara Bry spoke to the Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC) for the first time as an elected official during its March 7 meeting at La Jolla Masonic Lodge. With two months under her City Council belt, she addressed the progress made on issues concerning Bird Rock and greater La Jolla residents, such as short-term vacation rentals, “mansionization” and DecoBike.

Hopeful to have a resolution in place promptly that addresses the proliferation of short-term vacation rentals, Bry said the City is working on three different policies.

“My position has not changed since the campaign in that I’m fine if you want to rent a room in your house if you are on site, and fine if you rent your house while you are on vacation, what I’m against is houses that are permanent mini-hotels (houses purchased just so they can be rented out) in residential neighborhoods,” Bry said. “But we have a strong-Mayor form of government at City Hall, and right now the City’s Planning Department is drafting three ordinances to deal with this. I’ve asked to be involved in the process and have a meeting in the next few weeks … I’m optimistic we will make progress on this.”

Although Bry said she hasn’t seen any of the proposals, “I think one of them would require that renters apply for a Conditional Use Permit, which means they’d have to provide or show proof of adequate parking to be able to operate a whole house rental, which we think will be a deterrent for some. There may be a requirement that (renters) get a business license for $75, so we know who they are. In other areas, interns were brought in to help get the database of renters with a business license up and running, and their salaries are quickly paid by the fees.”

In terms of mansionization — homes built to the largest legal size based on the lot and in a boxy style not consistent with the neighborhood — Bry said she has reviewed locally created guidelines, and would like to see them implemented.

“Sharon Wampler and Diane Kane (who, as part of the La Jolla mansionization committee, spent more than a year developing a policy the City could implement) wrote a report and I am very pleased with the recommendations they’ve made,” she said. “Right now, we’re looking at what the process is for moving some of these recommendations forward.”

Wampler later told La Jolla Light did not want to disclose the details until plans had been approved.

When it comes to the City’s planned bike-share program, DecoBike, which has drawn the ire of many La Jollans, Bry said, “I’ve been assured DecoBike is not even close to coming to La Jolla. And before anything comes to La Jolla, they would meet with the community to field your concerns.” The City has recommended as many as 17 bike-share kiosks from Bird Rock to La Jolla Shores, despite the fact that every community advisory group in 92037 has opposed their presence due to unsightliness, competition with local bike rental companies and lack of safety features such as helmets and locks.

In other Bird Rock news:

Peters’ office requests “patience” with flight noise: In light of changes to airplane flight paths that went into effect March 2, Congress member Scott Peters’ representative Brian Elliott was on hand to answer questions.

After Bird Rock and La Jolla Shores residents reported an increase in airplane noise starting in November 2016, Peters’ office began an “open dialogue” with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to determine the cause and a possible solution.

“The FAA presented a lot of data, but not a lot was conclusive on what the problem was. The FAA said there haven’t been any flight plan changes, but the data supports an increase in planes turning (sooner) and then continuing on that path, which is closer to the coast going north,” he said.

By way of a solution, he said on March 2, the FAA implemented new waypoint signals that provide better direction on where pilots should turn to head north.

“The signal that tells pilots when to turn is now further out to sea and further away from the coast. Flights departing and going north have to go past that point … but air traffic controllers and pilots are still trying to get a sense of what is going on, so there is a grace period. We’re still looking at the data and seeing if these flights can reach further out (before turning) and what impact that will have. We’re joining with the San Diego Airport Authority and the FAA in asking for your patience.”

However, Elliott noted this would not affect noise generated by incoming flights that could come in past the 11:30 p.m. curfew. “The airport, being a public airport, can accept flights at any time of day. However, airports like San Diego will fine airlines for late flights, and that’s a choice the airlines make. Last month, there were multiple $30,000 fines from San Diego.”

Elliott said he would return to a future meeting with any new information.

MAD rates decrease: Barbara Dunbar, BRCC treasurer and manager of Bird Rock’s Maintenance Assessment District (MAD), said the property assessment amount for 2018 probably will decrease from previous years. “The proposed budget is being reviewed by the Park & Rec Department as part of the City’s budget process. But last year, everyone was told they would be assessed $90 a year, and it will likely be closer to $84 or $85. This is because we had less spending for the year and we accumulated a little more in the reserve fund, plus we are doing things a little better,” she said. “We only want to charge the bare minimum of what we need to charge.”

Landscape committee? After discussion about Bird Rock’s problems with some dying landscaping, an idea to form a BRCC Landscape Committee was raised to weigh in and determine what plants would be more appropriate, manageable and affordable. Current BRCC members (those who’ve paid their $35 annual dues) are eligible and can e-mail info@birdrockcc.org for more details.

— Bird Rock Community Council meets 6 p.m. first Tuesdays at various venues. More at birdrockcc.org

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