A whopping five projects came before the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC) Feb. 20 at the La Jolla Rec Center — including a first-time presentation and projects continued from 2017. Only two got the go-ahead, the others were slated to return for consideration at a future meeting.
Reviewed last month, the Black Halibut project, 8470 El Paseo Grande, was approved 4-2-1. It calls for the demolition of a 2,578-square-foot, single-story residence and 639-square-foot building and construction of a new, two-story-over-basement 6,927-square-foot single-family residence.
Previous issues included missing input from neighbors and how the floor area ratio (FAR) was being measured (La Jolla Shores does not have a FAR maximum, but the question often comes up to illustrate bulk and scale). Because the house is next to the beach, applicant Claude-Anthony Marengo said he was factoring sand into the landscape requirement. With it, the project has a .60 FAR. Without it, the FAR is .81.
Marengo said between the last review and the most recent one, he met with neighbors to explain his plans. The adjacent neighbor was in attendance and called the plans “the Titanic compared to my rowboat.” He also cited concerns about privacy, sunlight blockage and air flow disruption.
After a 25-minute discussion of Marengo’s design choices, a motion was made to support the project.
The other approved project was the Spindrift Residence, at 1834 Spindrift Drive, which calls for the demolition of a house and construction of a new 6,374-square-foot, two-story-over-basement residence, with a 453-square-foot guest quarters and new pool.
The house that will be demolished was at one point considered for historic designation, but upon further review, experts determined there had been too many additions for the home to be historic.
Applicant Tony Crisafi (who switched hats from PRC trustee to an architect for the presentation) said plans for the new house feature arched windows and doors with stone on the façade, and front landscaping that would be maintained or enhanced. The project would create a view corridor on both sides of the property by removing some of the older trees. Crisafi said neighbors were contacted about the plans and there were no comments opposing the development.
Largely due to its small size, compliance with suggested setbacks, and aesthetically pleasing design, the board voted 6-0-1 to approve the project.
Making a return engagement
The Price Cohen residence project at 2045 Lowry Place was discussed at length. Plans were previously heard in October 2017, and call for the demolition of an existing 2,432-square-foot, single-story residence and construction of a new 3,533-square-foot, two-story residence.
The project maintains the same footprint as the current house, with minor changes. However, applicant Bruce Peeling largely based his measurements on the La Jolla Community Plan and did not factor in recommendations in the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (PDO), or blueprint for development.
“The description of the house is almost identical to what had been proposed before, however, we are 153 square feet smaller than the original … and the garage has been moved,” Peeling said.
Of concern to committee members is one wall with no articulation, which Peeling called a “long straight flat wall.” The PDO imposes more specific recommendations.
When referencing the La Jolla Community Plan, Peeling said: “It doesn’t say setbacks need to be three inches or three feet, it just says there needs to be articulation and reads, ‘… allow flexibility while maintaining streetscape and providing adequate amounts of light and air.’ I’m using setbacks the City of San Diego recognizes for lots this size.”
Trustee Janie Emerson said she worried about the project setting a precedent: “You have a lot to work within and we have a PDO to work within. We want to make the two work together. If we blow up the PDO, and do something that works for this project, the next person that comes along and may say ‘you did that, so we can do this.’ The juggling act is having a nice house that complies with the PDO.”
After hearing suggestions for how the plans could be adjusted to make it more PDO-compliant and address neighbor concerns, the applicant agreed to return.
Sitting on an unusually shaped lot that is “larger than most of the neighbors,” the Pathria Residence project calls for the demolition of an existing single family residence and construction of a new 4,519-square-foot, two-story residence at 7975 Calle De La Plata.
Applicant Christian Rice said the house has “a lot of articulation” by way of windows, overhangs and indentations to break up the massing, and the setbacks are consistent with some of the newer homes along Calle de la Plata.
Concerns include driveway length and whether it meets parking code requirements, and whether the project has too much articulation.
Crisafi opined: “The whole concept is just too busy. There are too many overhangs. The fenestration doesn’t relate to what is on the other side. The driveway doesn’t work. If this house took some cues from others in the area, it would be beautiful.”
To give the applicant time to address these concerns, the board asked him to come to a future meeting.
Because of its Hillside Drive address, the Side LLC project got specific attention from nearby residents and the board. The project site includes two lots on which there is currently one house. The existing house would be redeveloped with a 3,868-square-foot addition on one lot and a second, 6,880-square-foot house would be constructed on the other lot, at 7687 Hillside Drive.
Applicant Alejandro Doring called the project “very different from the others presented in that it is not a modern house.” Instead, his are Spanish-inspired traditional homes, and neither faces the street. Rather than provide renderings, Doring offered images of inspiration to the board.
A handful of Hillside residents came over from the La Jolla Development Permit Review committee meeting, also being held at the Rec Center that night, where another Hillside project was being discussed, to inform themselves about this additional project.
Development on Hillside Drive is being closely watched as residents have cited issues with excessive construction vehicles parking in No Parking zones and blocking the street on which visibility is already limited by the winding nature of the street; project schedules overlapping to prolong the hazards posed by construction vehicles; excessive truck weight on a questionably stable hillside; and more.
Addressing the residents, Doring said: “I understand your concerns, and the reality of what I have here is a house that does not maximize the lot size the way some of our neighbors have,” and that “I want this house to look like it belongs in La Jolla in the 1930s.”
He acknowledged that he had not spoken to all the adjacent neighbors, and it was suggested he do so before returning for a vote.
Further, Doring was asked to come back with justification for the front yard setback distance (which was shorter than the board would prefer) and a detailed construction management plan.
— La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee next meets 4 p.m. Monday, March 19 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollacpa.org