Shorehouse Kitchen trellis can stay in La Jolla, says board

At the May 23 meeting of La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC), board members unanimously approved a motion to allow an existing shade sidewalk structure adjacent the Shorehouse Kitchen restaurant at 2236 Avenida de la Playa to remain in place.

The Shorehouse Kitchen restaurant opened in 2015 offering breakfast, lunch and doggie menus. Shortly after, the owners placed a 250-square-foot shade structure on the public right-of-way in front of the building without a permit. Later that year, a City Code Enforcement Case was initiated by a resident’s complaint against the un-permitted work.

Eventually the City took action and ordered the Shorehouse Kitchen to demolish all un-permitted work within the right-of-way, including the shade structure, a wooden doghouse covering a water meter and enhanced sidewalk brick paving. The doghouse and paving were part of a first remodel that happened in 2014, when the owners got a permit from the City to install the patio trellis within the restaurant.

“The approved plans (for the 2014 remodel) do not depict the un-permitted trellis and sidewalk café (nor the doghouse, pavers, etc.) in the public right-of-way along Avenida de la Playa,” City Code Enforcement Division program manager Michelle Sokolowski told La Jolla Light. The sidewalk café, she explained, is in double violation with the Code because “both the use and associated improvements are present without the required permits.”

To remedy the situation and avoid any potential fines, Shorehouse Kitchen architect James Lee started an application for a “Neighborhood Use Permit and Site Development Permit for encroachment of a new 250-square-foot shade structure, sidewalk café, outdoor seating, dog house, enhanced paving and seating benches built without permit within the right of way and visibility area.”

“The City is not willing to allow us to let the trellis stay,” he began, “So one idea was to make it non-permanent with a fabric awning.” Lee presented renderings of a removable steel structure of 3- by 3-inch, 8-foot posts with a base plate anchored to the concrete, which PRC trustee Janie Emerson said wasn’t to her liking.

“I kept thinking about it and, the comment that we got from the City was very clear and specific in telling us the structure (should be movable),” Lee said. His second option — three umbrellas located side by side on the sidewalk — also didn’t meet Emerson’s expectations. “I don’t like anything about it,” she said.

Anticipating the City may insist Shorehouse Kitchen owners remove the shade structure, Emerson made a motion to approve “a sidewalk café, outdoor seating, enhanced paving, doghouse, seating benches, period,” she said, emphasizing the absence of the trellis in her wording. The recommendation passed unanimously.

PRC chair Dave Gordon made a second motion stating, “findings can be made for keeping the existing shade structure with a variance, including a Coastal Development Permit, as it fits the neighborhood and is well liked by many of the residents.” The second motion also passed unanimously.

Asked whether the City would allow the structure to stay, City program manager Sokolowski said the application being processed is for the structure to stay. “This request is still in review at this time. … Should (the project) be approved, and subsequent related ministerial permits be completed, the Code Enforcement case would be closed for this issue,” she added.

As to why Shorehouse Kitchen didn’t apply for a permit in the first place, co-owner John Freis told the Light in a previous interview, “We assumed that it wasn’t a problem, there was (another shade structure) down the street already.”