During an otherwise short meeting of La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) Aug. 4 at La Jolla Rec Center, residents and trustees debated the Jones Residence project in the Hidden Valley area for more than an hour. Grappling with everything from community concerns to parliamentary procedures, the board ultimately decided to continue the discussion at its September meeting.
Requesting a Site Development Permit and Coastal Development Permit to demolish a 1,961-square-foot single-family residence and construct a new 4,975-square-foot split-level single-family residence with attached garage and pool at 2315 Rue De Anne, Brian Will presented the project. Will is also a LJCPA trustee and La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee (DPR) member.
The project has gone through several design revisions, with neighbors and the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC) examining the project at each stage. In May, Will presented the most recent design to area residents and the PRC, who approved the plans pending an updated soils report. PRC gave final approval in July, 4-1-1.
Insisting the design would preserve neighbor privacy, not cast an inconvenient shadow at any time of day and be set back far enough into the adjacent hillside to minimize the perceived bulk and scale, Will said the proposed development was “almost hidden” from the street and surrounding residents.
Will said the plans meet all the requirements of the San Diego Municipal Code and area design guidelines. Showing homes that have had “major work” over the last 35 years, Will offered a comparison chart indicating the planned Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of his development and of surrounding properties, and said other area homes are bigger by FAR than what he is proposing.
However, land-use attorney Julie Hamilton, representing neighbors opposed to the project, argued that just because it is the smallest by FAR, does not mean it is the smallest house on the street. “This home is too big and out of character with Rue de Anne,” she said.
Hamilton added that two houses on that street are on historic registries, one of which is surrounded by glass to “bring the outdoors in,” and that the proposed development would negatively impact architecturally significant features of the surrounding historic homes.
“When you build a house next to an existing house, it is going to impact the historicity of the house … and that is a significant issue,” she said, pointing out that there are only two, two-story houses in the area, all others are one story. “The more two-story houses you allow, the more you change the character of the neighborhood and the more likely it is that the next two-story house will be allowed.”
In addition to the debate on the merits of the project and neighbor concerns, trustees voiced concern over the meeting protocol. LJCPA trustee Bob Steck said the item was pulled from the agenda only a few days before the meeting, and that “90 percent of the time when that happens, it (is heard) the following month.” He said, “By hearing it this month, the opposition was only given a few days to create a presentation. It’s a fairness issue.”
LJCPA Chair Cindy Greatrex explained cases like this are a matter of discretion, and because there was a short agenda in August, she decided to add the item. However, because the board could not come to a majority decision, the discussion was postponed until September.
In other LJCPA news:
DPR provided, as part of its findings, several reasons to deny the conversion, including: the proposal is inconsistent with neighborhood development pattern that is predominately two units per property/parcel, there are too many unknowns regarding potential new development and its effects on neighborhood character, and more.
— Next meeting: LJCPA will convene 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollacpa.org