Permitters seek more details on condo conversion plan


At its June 21 meeting, La Jolla’s Development Permit Review Committee (DPR) evaluated a proposal to convert three dwelling units at 7432, 7434 and 7436 Fay Ave. into condominium units, and then asked the applicant to provide more details, tabling the item for further consideration to its July 12 meeting.

The existing properties are located in two lots that would need to be consolidated into one to comply with the state law on condominiums, said applicant Robert Bateman, owner of San Diego Land Surveying and Engineering.

No additional construction is proposed. If the project is approved, the two buildings — one single family dwelling and one two-apartment complex with four garages — will form a condominium community divided in three units.

Bateman explained that lot owner Claude Anthony Marengo wishes to sell the units, which are currently rented out. “It creates homeownership for the community; it gives people that don’t have the money to access more expensive homes, the chance to buy homes within the community of La Jolla,” he said.

There are eight parking spaces available in the apartment complex — four one-car garages and a space behind each in the rear alley. The eight spaces would be shared within the three condominiums, Bateman said.

However, board member Mike Costello had doubts on how that would work. “How do three units divide up eight parking spaces?” he asked.

Bateman replied, “The condominium plan that would eventually be prepared, would assign units to the parking spaces, and if a certain owner wanted to purchase additional parking spaces, he or she could. I numbered the spaces and it’s basically up to the owners at the time.”

The permit checklist included landscape, and a plan was presented to the board. “There’s some enhancement to the front, but it is essentially what is there today, which is a fairly nice little landscape. The purpose of this landscape plan is to comply with the condominium conversion ordinance, and it primarily deals with making sure that the front area meets code,” Bateman said.

The single family dwelling was built in 1917, and the apartments in 1962. DPR members raised questions about the legality of the construction of three units within the existing area.

After the meeting, DPR Chair Paul Benton explained, “The current code permits one unit for each 3,000 square feet of lot. The two lots together are a total of 6,995 square feet in area, and 6,995 divided by 3,000 calculates out to 2.3 units, which means the maximum is two units. This regulation would apply if this were a new project, so the next step is to consider if the three units were legally permitted at that time.”

Bateman presented a report from 2001 to establish the legality of the construction. However, the document didn’t satisfy DPR members, who requested Marengo bring a response from the city to the next meeting.

“Also, I don’t buy the argument that making the units condominiums would bring low-income housing to La Jolla,” Liera said. “I think the low-income housing remains when they are leasable … when they become condominiums, they come up in price.”

The La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee next meets 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 12 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.