La Jolla Shores’ house addition raises short-term rental concerns

The prevailing feeling of the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC) while discussing the Balbarais Addition Project at the March 19 meeting was: “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck.” But in this case it was: If it is accessed like a rental and has features of a rental, could it be a rental?

Although it’s being presented as a single-family residence renovation, the project left the board with the worry it will be used as a full-time short-term rental. However, whether something will be used as a short-term rental is not within the PRC purview.

Applicant representative Aaron Borja seeks Site Development and Coastal Development permits for a 2,077-square-foot addition/remodel to an existing, two-story, 2,383-square-foot, single-family residence at 2175 Calle Frescota, including a new second-floor addition above the existing garage resulting in a 4,460-square foot single-family residence on a 5,728-square-foot property.

The project is in the midst of a code enforcement case, because the owner made some additions that were unpermitted. Now it needs to obtain a permit to effectively undo the additions. Because the owner is already in the permitting process, they reportedly decided to do a more in-depth addition project.

Since it was last heard in January, Borja said the third level portion has been set back further (three stories are allowed in The Shores, as long as these do not exceed 30 feet, and this property stands at 29 feet, 11 inches) and the new Floor Area Ratio is .71 (The Shores does not have a maximum Floor Area Ratio).

“The existing house has two bedrooms, and we are adding three bedrooms to that, and adding two levels over the garage. The kitchen and dining room are being relocated,” Borja said. “The master suite is upstairs and toward the back of the property so as not to block views.”

Trustee Matt Edwards bluntly asked: “So this is not going to be an AirBnB rental?”

Borja responded: “No, it is not.”

Unconvinced, trustee Tony Crisafi said: “If your clients want to use this master bedroom as part of the house that’s one thing, but it looks like you could also use it as a separate suite.”

Interrupting, trustee Janie Emerson said: “We’re all coming to the same conclusion,” that the design is conducive to the property being divided up and rented.

Edwards added: “Everybody is thinking it,” and he opined: “It would be nice if the owners were here so they could give some assurance that they would occupy the structure.”

Borja promised to have the owners come in and declare that their project would not be a dedicated short-term rental, but he noted that the owners “travel a lot” and this would likely be their retirement home.

Representing a concerned citizen, Phil Merten said: “This (looks like) an attempt to construct two dwelling units in a single-family neighborhood. The unit above the garage is accessed by an exterior staircase from the rear-yard and the walkway. That unit has no interior connection to the main house. It has a refrigerator and the only thing missing, to make it a functional kitchen, is a hotplate.”

In addition to the kitchen facilities, the above-garage room has its own laundry facility.

Rental concerns aside, trustees agreed that at two parking spaces and a garage for a five-bedroom house, the parking proposed was inadequate — especially since the property is in the beach parking impact zone. They also expressed concern about bulk and scale, the staircase through which the above-garage room could be accessed, the fact that there are two laundry facilities, and the project’s “appearance” of being a rental unit.

The applicant agreed to attend a future meeting.

Companion unit approved

A companion unit planned for a property at 2555 Ardath Road got the board’s unanimous “yes” vote during its first presentation. Intended for the homeowner’s 100-year-old mother, the unit would be an 855-square-foot single-story detached addition to an existing 2,693-square-foot single-story single-family home.

Applicant representative Rob Balentine said there is an “unsightly” shed where the unit would be, surrounded by vegetation. “Our goal is to maintain the landscaping,” he said. “We intend to have a side wall for noise prevention and privacy. There would also be plantings to grow over the wall.”

PRC chair Dave Gordon said this was one case where a wall would be appropriate.

The site, with the companion unit, would have a .25 Floor Area Ratio. Balentine said there is only one adjacent neighbor, who is reportedly in support of the plans. The height would cap at 12 feet, provide articulation and have low visual impact.

— La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee next meets 4 p.m. Monday, April 16 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.