City seeks to sell lot permitters say could become a park

In 1957, the City of San Diego acquired a parcel of land that straddles the border of Pacific Beach and La Jolla (at the northeast corner of Cass Street and Van Nuys Street) with the intent of extending the nearby Rutgers Road. Nearly 60 years have passed and the street has not been developed in the residential area, so the city has requested a street vacation to release the property and sell it on the open market.

Although the majority of the property sits in Pacific Beach, a small corner lies within La Jolla, so City of San Diego property agent Dena Boylan and city asset manager Mary Carlson presented the request to La Jolla’s Development Permit Review (DPR) committee during its Sept. 20 meeting at the Rec Center. Since DPR did not have a quorum for a vote, those present just heard the preliminary presentation.

The applicants reportedly already presented to the applicable Pacific Beach planning groups and received approval for the street vacation.

“(This property) was originally purchased by the city from a private owner to extend the Rutgers Road. Since the city has deemed it is no longer going to create that street, it has been deemed excess property,” Boylan said. The property is about 5,600 square feet and has “quite a slope to it,” she added. Currently, the Rutgers Road extension is listed as a “paper street,” which means it exists on a map, but not in reality.

The only person who has expressed interest in purchasing the lot is an adjacent property owner, who has not announced what would be done with the property.

Carlson noted any future development would be handled through Development Services, and could not be addressed as part of the afternoon’s presentation. However, DPR member Angeles Liera and others questioned whether the property could be used for a city pocket park or a dog park.

Carlson explained that before the city goes to sell excess property, “We route it to all city departments to see if any has a purpose for that property. We did that two years ago and no city department expressed any interest in retaining the property. If the department of Park & Rec says it would like to build a mini-park there, then by all means, we would retain the property and not sell it.”

The residents were notified in July that a street vacation was being sought, and Boylan said she has not heard from anyone with interest in making the property into a park. However, DPR members still had questions about what might be done with the hilly plot.

Liera commented, “It’s important to ask about the type of development that could go there, because once it’s vacated and once someone buys it, something could go there and we don’t know what that is. What would happen if the neighborhood didn’t have access to city parks? What if there was a need for something like that? It could be that the neighbors are perfectly happy with the street vacation and possible development, and don’t need anything, but we don’t know.”

Noting the popularity of the dog park on Soledad Mountain Road, DPR member Mike Costello said he “couldn’t imagine” a dog park wouldn’t be popular and well used.

Because the board could not vote on the project, the applicants agreed to return with information about potential development and comments from the Pacific Beach planning groups. It was also recommended they make a presentation about the lot to La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory board at a future meeting.

— DPR next meets 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.