La Jolla Shores permitters talk Hillside Drive problems


Because the only two proposed projects were removed from the agenda at the last minute, the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC) discussed some of the issues that plague Hillside Drive residents, and what can be done about them, at its Dec. 18 meeting at La Jolla Rec Center. The projects were pulled at the request of the applicant.

For months, if not years, residents of Hillside Drive have lamented the number of construction projects taking place at the same time on their narrow and deeply winding street. Resident Diane Kane reports that there are 12 projects that are under review, under construction or recently completed, within half a mile.

As to why this has been happening, some theorized that it is because Hillside Drive divides the purview of La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee and the La Jolla Development Permit Review committee. Both committee review property development projects, but in different areas. As such, home-build projects on one side of Hillside Drive are reviewed by La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee and projects on the other side of Hillside Drive by the La Jolla Development Permit Review committee, and there is no coordination between the two groups. (Read more about two projects, when they were presented to La Jolla Development Permit Review committee, on page A21.)

“Each one may be fine, but cumulatively it’s a mess,” Kane said. “The issue is not what they are developing on one side or the other, but the fact that no one is looking at the whole. Both groups need to get together and talk to the City. I would plead with you — you need to get together, carry the same message and tell the City we have a problem. And it’s not just on Hillside Drive, this is happening in communities across the City.”

PRC chair Dave Gordon, offered some explanation: “The City didn’t intend for that, but that’s the way they drew the boundary lines and Development Services is refusing the change it.”

Adding to the “perfect storm” of issues, the street is not wide enough to accommodate construction vehicles and passenger cars, and being on a hillside, there are stability concerns.

“(That street has) steep terrain and the road is failing. The road cannot take the type of construction vehicles needed to get these things built,” Kane said. “You also get people that park their construction vehicles illegally (in red zones), so now you are down to one lane and cars and emergency vehicles cannot get through.”

Resident John Gilchrist added: “If you parked one cement truck on the street, there would be a period of time in which there would be no access.”

Residents also said enforcement is an issue, and that proper authorities have been called when there is illegal parking and they rarely respond. Some at the meeting opined that there is a particular threat to those with health concerns, as emergency vehicles might have a hard time getting through if construction vehicles are parked there.

PRC trustee Janie Emerson noted if someone needs medical attention and an ambulance cannot get through, the person that needed care could sue the City.

Contractor Tom Grunow added that in looking at projects, the board should look at water drainage because Hillside Drive has problematic storm drains.

“Because of the deteriorated condition, the water coming down the hill goes into the hillside and onto cracked streets. It gets to clay soil which then gets soft and can become unstable. On a steep hill like that … you have a situation there. There is no real way, with all those heavy construction trucks and digging into the street (to keep things stable),” he said.

What can be done?

Nearly 30 residents have a signed petition affirming the problems ready, but hasn’t submitted it to any particular group yet.

At the PRC meeting, residents were advised to present to other community planning groups so they can make a unified recommendation to the Community Planning Association, which would be sent to the City. It was also noted that representatives from City Council member Barbara Bry attend the Community Planning Association and might take note of their concerns. “Its time consuming and frustrating, but the way to get something done is to keep bugging the City about it,” Gordon said.

The situation will be addressed at future meetings, and possibly to the 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4 Community Planning Association meeting at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

Pulled projects

The following are the two projects removed from the agenda, which will be heard at a future meeting.

The first is a remodel project at 7687 Hillside Drive that would add 3,868 square feet and interior remodel to and existing 3,126 square-foot single dwelling, and construct a new 6,880-square-foot residence with a new 815-square-foot three-car garage. Each of the two homes will be constructed on separate but adjacent lots.

The second is the Black Halibut project, which calls for the demolition of an existing 2,578-square-foot single story residence and construction of a new two-story-over-basement 6,927 square-foot single family residence at 8470 El Paseo Grande.

PRC next meets 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.