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La Jolla Community Planning Association elects six board members

La Jolla Community Planning Association trustees and others meet via Zoom in February.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The La Jolla Community Planning Association welcomed six board members during its March 3 meeting after its annual election last month.

Fifty-seven qualified ballots were returned from among 94 eligible voters, and the top vote-getters for the six available seats were (in order of votes received): Helen Boyden, Suzanne Baracchini, Mike Costello, Tom Brady, John Fremdling and Joe Terry.

Boyden and Costello are current trustees who ran for reelection. Brady, Fremdling and Terry previously sat on the LJCPA board. Baracchini is a newcomer.

LJCPA President Diane Kane applauded the elections committee, saying the city of San Diego “is nipping at our heels in terms of how we run elections, who we posit for trustees and the composition of the organization.” She was referring to in-development community planning group reforms that call on local groups to encourage more diversity of membership. The reforms have been touted as a way to make the groups more independent from the city and encourage inclusive participation.

Kane encouraged “anyone in the community that wants to get involved with this organization to please do so. We need you. … We want anyone and everyone that is interested in joining.”

She also thanked board members Dave Ish, Dan Courtney and Kathleen Neil, all of whom opted not to run again, for their contributions.

She said Ish “has done a great job representing the community in your work to revise the San Diego municipal code with respect to the ’50 percent rule’ [which allows developers to bypass the coastal development permit process if they retain 50 percent of a structure’s original walls], serial permitting [a strategy of applying for multiple smaller permits to bypass a CDP] and carports [being enclosed and becoming rooms in a house].”

“You will be enshrined in the San Diego municipal code,” she added jokingly.

Courtney “has been a wonderful contributor to our discussions of short-term vacation rental [regulations], multifamily housing and affordable housing in the community,” Kane said. “Your perspective has been extremely valuable.”

Neil assisted with the elections committee and was an alternate on the Community Planners Committee, which has representation from each of San Diego’s community planning groups. Kane told Neil that “your assistance on these committees and your effort to rewrite the code for the Shores Planned District Ordinance have been invaluable and will make a huge contribution to the community.”

The new LJCPA board will help navigate changes to be implemented should the community planning group reforms go into effect.

The reforms, introduced by City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, would revise council policies for community planning groups citywide. That includes removing meeting attendance requirements for becoming a voting member; imposing new regulations on board makeup to include renters, business owners, homeowners and more; imposing a two-year break in service after someone has termed out of a board; no longer providing city staff to assist with meeting operations and disputes; no longer providing a stipend for community planning group members; no longer waiving appeal fees and more.

LJCPA board members have voiced strong opposition to the planned reforms, which backers hope will be in effect this fall. “This proposal does not stand a good possibility of reforming community planning groups, it is going to kill them,” Kane said in December.

The group has continued to make suggestions, though Neil said “the changes that council member LaCava made in January and February to the draft cannot be considered significant improvements.”

“But the fact that he is continuing to revise the draft online tells me he is attempting to placate some of [our] requests,” she said.

Neil said her correspondence with other planning groups suggests that three City Council members in addition to LaCava would vote yes. “The five remaining council members would all have to vote no in order to stop it,” she said.

Should the policy be adopted, immediate changes for LJCPA would include revising the bylaws and election procedures, with no template from the city.

“We’ll keep fighting, but I don’t know if we’ll get anywhere,” said trustee Ray Weiss.

Other LJCPA news

Village vision coming into focus: The long-awaited LJCPA Village Visioning Committee plan has been drafted and will be making the rounds at local planning groups in coming weeks for “feedback and support for future project prioritization, grant funding and future implementation,” Kane said.

The committee was formed 18 months ago and consists of Realtors, engineers, architects and more. It has been assessing how to improve traffic flow, parking availability, sidewalk comfort, street tree coordination and overall aesthetics of the public right of way in La Jolla.

Once the plan is approved locally, Kane said, the committee will seek to have it added to the La Jolla Community Plan and will pursue federal infrastructure money to have it implemented.

50/50 rule: After the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee voted last month to approve a proposed change to what is known as the 50 percent rule, LJCPA followed suit.

The 50 percent rule exempts a redevelopment project from needing a costly and time-consuming coastal development permit if it retains 50 percent of the original walls and thus is classified as a “remodel.” In an effort to deter abuses of that rule, the DPR is proposing a “50/50 rule.”

Under the change, two new circumstances would require a CDP: if the structure increases the floor area by more than 50 percent or more than 1,000 square feet, whichever is less; or if a structure has undergone a CDP-exempt remodel in the past five years and the developer applies for another permit.

“No one is saying you can’t build anything, you just have to get a CDP,” LJCPA trustee and DPR member Greg Jackson said.

Ish cautioned that there would be “pushback,” but he encouraged trustees to “stand your ground” on the five-year requirement.

After some finessing of the language, LJCPA voted to ratify the recommendation and submit it to the city.

A second recommendation to require a geotechnical report whenever a project would include a basement also was approved.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Community Planning Association next meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 7, likely online. Learn more at lajollacpa.org.