Whitney Project proceeds with demolition, construction in La Jolla Shores

Although a decision is pending from the Fourth District Court of Appeals as to whether the approvals will be dismissed, the controversial “Whitney Project” building on 2202 and 2206 Avenida de la Playa has been demolished with construction set to follow for a three-story, mixed-use building in its place.

The owner is La Jolla Shores resident Bob Whitney.

The mixed-use project has been heard locally and at the City level for nine years, and was approved by the San Diego Planning Commission in April 2015, followed by the San Diego City Council in October 2015. The 30-foot high, 8,500-square-foot building will feature ground- floor retail (a restaurant is already planned) and condominiums on the upper floors.

The building will also feature articulating balconies and decks on the second and third floors; landscaping on El Paseo Grande; creeping fig plants covering the exterior walls of the first and second floors; preservation of the three existing palm trees; and setbacks at the corner of Avenida de la Playa and El Paseo Grande and on the east property line. Whitney said construction would likely start this month and take 12-14 months to complete.

In the course of local hearings, residents expressed opposition due to the project’s size, claiming its bulk and scale is out of context with the neighborhood. La Jolla Shores does not have a Floor-Area Ratio maximum, but does follow the 30-foot height limit.

Largely opposed to the building plans is immediate neighbor Myrna Naegle, who told La Jolla Light: “My main concern is that it will be too massive and will not blend with the character of La Jolla Shores.”

Naegle’s property features retail on the ground floor and her residence on the second floor. She previously said the property would block all sun light from her residence.

A lawsuit headed by a group of Shores residents led by land-use attorney Julie Hamilton, is also ongoing against the project. It asks that the project approvals be set aside because the property would set a precedent for other development in the area and the information on which its approval was based is questionable.

“This project would change the character of that center of The Shores,” Hamilton said. “It would be the largest in terms of bulk and scale, with the exception of one other building. The project does not provide visibility triangles for that intersection (lines of sight for pedestrians and vehicles), which gets busy in the summer.”

Hamilton said a decision is expected in the next few months.

“We were fine with the demolition, that’s (Whitney’s) choice,” she said, “and that’s not the impact we’re concerned with. We’re waiting to see what he does with the construction.”

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