Three projects get La Jolla CPA green light


One home build, a second-story addition and a grading permit for retaining walls all got the OK to proceed during the La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting Nov. 2 at La Jolla Rec Center.

Bird Rock house construction

The first, the Hardiman Residence at 5626 Dolphin Place in Bird Rock, comes to LJCPA after four hearings at La Jolla’s Development Permit Review (DPR) committee. The project involves the demolition of existing single-dwelling unit and construction of a new two-stories-over-basement residence at 4,110-square-feet.

When heard at DPR, residents cited concern with bulk, scale, mass and height; and the lack of support from surrounding residents. In one hearing, DPR voted to reject the project but the applicants agreed to reconsider plans and return. Over the course of four hearings, the project’s articulation was increased, the height reduced, more off-street parking was added and more. All said, DPR voted unanimously to support the project.

Explaining the decision, LJCPA trustee and DPR chair Mike Costello said: “At three different junctures, the applicants could have simply turned away from DPR and taken their chances downtown … in looking at the emotions this project seemed to generate, we recommended the architect stay with DPR to resolve these issues. They made concession after concession, not everything DPR asked them to do, but in the end, it impressed us to the point that we did approve the project.”

Matt Peterson, representing the residents, showed LJCPA trustees surrounding houses, including a two-and-a-half story home that was called “very tall” and “bulky,” he also showed the views from the street and the alleys. “There are a lot of single story homes, but there are an awful lot of two story homes so this isn’t a neighborhood of small single story cottages where this is going to be some blockbuster that is out of scale with the neighborhood,” he said. “I love the diversity and variety of architecture in this neighborhood.”

Second-story addition

The Abbott Residence project, to add a second story to a large existing resident single dwelling unit at 6340 Camino de la Costa in Lower Hermosa, was approved, based on several points presented by applicant representative Lauren Williams.

The project adds 4,325 square feet of construction for a total of 9,580 square feet on a 1.37-acre site. When heard at DPR, the committee voted to support the project 4-1-2. The property is currently a single-story house on a bluff edge set mostly below the sight line.

Williams said there are five points on which LJCPA should base its vote of support: “The (homeowner) could be adding over 19,000 square feet based on allowances, but this project adds 4,000 and is under the average Floor Area Ratio (FAR); similarly, it could be built higher, but isn’t; three view corridors will be opened up; the street will be beautified with street trees; 27 neighbors wrote a letter in support.”

The work would also move a portion of the house away from the water, add a second floor and move a garage to open up views. The side “walls” will be made of glass and 36 inches high so you could see the ocean from the street.

Retaining wall permit

Slightly more contentious, the Henley Retaining Wall project went through two rounds of motions before the board passed something. The request for a Coastal Development Permit is to satisfy the terms of a code violation on a house atop a bluff at 615 Wrelton Drive in Bird Rock.

Representative Stu art Peace explained: “The residence was built in 1950 and the illegally constructed wall was built in approximately 2001. The owner purchased the home in 2011 and has received a code violation for an existing retaining wall.”

To correct the issue, he said the homeowner needs a grading permit to take a foot off the wall to satisfy code restrictions. To get the grading permit, they first need the Coastal Development Permit. “We have the report from the structural engineer, which was filed with his professional license that there are no issues with the walls and that they are in fine condition. Both documents have been accepted by the City,” Peace told the board.

Unconvinced it is truly that simple, Costello said: “The bluff is giving way on a couple properties and … as these bluffs fail, when you put in these illegal structures, who knows what kind of damage could be done. We don’t want to harass the Henleys into getting a permit, but if these walls were so good, why did the previous owners not apply for a permit?” He asked that the homeowners take out the walls, put in properly permitted walls and have them inspected.

A motion that findings cannot be made for the retaining wall was voted as 5-4-4. With all the abstentions, a majority was reportedly not represented. A counter motion that findings can be made passed 6-5-2.

— La Jolla Community Planning Association next meets 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.