Planners OK Jones residence, wedding on wheels

After four presentations to the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC), three design revisions, and a presentation to La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) last month, the Jones Residence project got two more hours of community review during LJCPA's Sept. 1 meeting at La Jolla Rec Center. This time, the home-build project at 2315 Rue De Anne in the Hidden Valley area was approved.

For the project, applicant (and LJCPA trustee) Brian Will requests a Site Development Permit and Coastal Development Permit to demolish an existing 1,961-square-foot, single-family residence and construct a new 4,975-square-foot single family residence with attached garage and pool.

Arguing everything from whether the project is two stories or split level; the accuracy of Will's presentation; community character; Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), which are outside of LJCPA's purview, but discussed at length anyway; the board and residents hashed out the issues before casting a vote.

The proposed building height is just over 23 feet where the existing house is 16 feet tall and the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is .265. Will said several surrounding homes have a FAR over .27. There is an "upper level" to the house, though there was some contention as to whether it makes the house split level or two-story. Will said the upper level is set back into the adjacent hillside to minimize impact. He also said there are a few multiple-story homes (two level, three level and "other") in the neighborhood, so adding another home larger than one story is not unprecedented.

"When we talk about bulk and scale, we can see it's only a few feet higher than the existing house. When we talk about FAR, we see this project is smaller than surrounding homes. But what we can also see is the perceived bulk and scale. Since we pushed this development back so far into the hillside, it is perceived to be much smaller than the existing property," Will said, noting there is at least 24 feet of side setbacks to distance the property from its neighbors.

He added, "This project meets the requirements of the municipal code, La Jolla Shores design guidelines, uses materials and designs consistent with the neighborhood, and we've met with the neighbors and worked with them on the three re-designs to mitigate their concerns in terms of privacy, noise, view and shadow."

LJCPA trustee Janie Emerson, who also sits on the PRC board that approved the project, said, "Everyone has bent over backwards to try to make this project work for everybody. This design was a compromise … and I think it's a good compromise."

Disagreeing, land-use attorney Julie Hamilton spoke on behalf of residents opposed to the project, largely because of the opinion that it's out of character with surrounding homes, and objection to a new development larger than one story. "It's not consistent with the bulk and scale of the community. You are supposed to compliment the general design of surrounding buildings in adjacent areas, and this doesn't do that. It doesn't transition from old development to new development," she said.

Other residents argued it is "an intrusive change to the community" because it has more than one story.

Siding with the 10 residents in attendance against the project, LJCPA trustee Phil Merten, "I'm pleased to see this 'second floor' is set so far back from the front, but nevertheless, when one is walking down that street, and especially neighbors across the street, they will look back at this house and see that second floor projecting up from the first floor. That is a substantial change on this particular street."

After each trustee offered their opinion — during which applicant Will recused himself — they voted 10-2-2 to ratify the findings of the PRC committee for the requested permits, and approved the project.

In other LJCPA news:

• Here comes the bride: Due to a scheduling error, a request to close one lane of Girard Avenue for about 45 minutes on Saturday, Sept. 17 for a Bengali wedding procession, was not presented for permission to La Jolla's Traffic & Transportation advisory group, and went straight to LJCPA. The time was not disclosed, but the closure would begin at Coast Boulevard South and end at La Valencia Hotel.

Road barriers for the event were approved by San Diego Police Department. The procession will include members of the wedding party, led by one horse and a two-by-four-by-four battery-operated mobile disc-jockey cart. Area businesses have reportedly been notified and none were at the meeting to object.

LJCPA trustee Ray Weiss noted, "If there was a time to be gracious, it would be now. If the businesses in the area do not object, I don't think we should either."

Trustee John Shannon agreed and said he saw the event as an opportunity to promote La Jolla. "There will be photographs and videos and it will show people this is a wonderful place to come, not only to get married, but just to visit. … In addition, it will only be for 45 minutes and it might be a cultural spectacle people would like to see."

A motion to support the lane closure passed 10-3-1.

• AT&T tower approved: Pulled for review by the applicant to avoid potential delays, an AT&T project to replace five antennae atop tower structures in the Soledad Mountain area was approved.

The property site is at 2122 Via Casa Alta and has a number of other towers. The antennae are on a building and a 174-foot tower owned by KGTV, and the locations range from 14- to 32-feet above ground level. The tower structures would not change, just the 32-foot antennae atop them.

Applicant Jamo Stephenson, representing a colleague, said, "AT&T is looking to remove six antennae and replace five of them. … The power output will not be changing and the coverage will be similar, as well. The antennae are mounted on a tower structure, and in order to keep up with demand, the antennae need to be replaced. The tower structure is not moving at all."

A motion to support the replacement passed.

• Special election for two seats: Two LJCPA trustees — Steve Haskins and Alex Outwater — stepped down from their board positions after determining they could no longer fulfill the commitment. This necessitates a special election in December to fill those seats. LJCPA chair Cindy Greatrex said any eligible and interested person may e-mail her a candidate statement at: info@lajollacpa.org

Eligible board candidates must be current LJCPA members and have attended three meetings in the 12 months leading up to the election. More at ljcpa.org

• UCSD Working Group meets: The UC San Diego Community Working Group, consisting of UCSD planners and members of La Jolla's community planning groups, had its inaugural meeting to discuss the university's long-range development plan, which includes details of all the development set for the campus in the next two years. Greatrex said it was an "excellent" meeting, but only provided a "sketch" of the long-range plan. "We will continue to meet monthly for at least the next two years, and after each meeting, there will be a presentation posted on the website: lrdp.ucsd.edu" she said.

La Jolla Community Planning Association next meets 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollacpa.org

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