La Jolla Planners OK Su Casa project: Construction to replace restaurant and apartments could break ground this fall


The Su Casa project was one of several approved by La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) during its Jan. 7 meeting at the Rec Center. Project representative Claude-Anthony Marengo sought a public right-of-way vacation, site development permit and coastal development permit to demolish the existing Su Casa restaurant and adjoining apartment building, and construct a two-story 7,875 square-foot mixed-use building, a 3,820 square-foot two-story residential building and a 3,086 square-foot three-story residential building with a 15,312 square-foot underground parking garage at 6738 La Jolla Blvd. and 350 Playa Del Sur.

When heard at the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee (DPR) meeting last month, though findings could be made for the project, the committee recommended Marengo present the project to La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation advisory group (T&T), and continue negotiations with the City Engineering Department for the design of the traffic direction/calming elements on La Jolla Boulevard. At issue was the driveway that feeds into and from La Jolla Boulevard — which Marengo said was placed there to minimize impacts to surrounding, smaller streets — and whether Marengo should present to T&T to discuss possible traffic calming measures. However, Marengo said such measures are not a project requirement and that a traffic engineer reportedly did not see the need for any when reviewing the project.

“The reason we have a major collector street, like La Jolla Boulevard that is wide and very visible, is to allow for traffic to come and go with ease in the center aisle, and blend into traffic and accelerate and go.”

LJCPA trustee Mike Costello, who also sits on DPR, shared his concern with potential impacts to the street. “It’s on La Jolla Boulevard and … that’s a major artery; I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for traffic calming. … You have a great structural project, but DPR opposed your not having answers to what the (impact) is going to be on our street.”

Marengo responded by saying the number of average daily trips with the residential mixed-use project is expected to be less than the current number generated by SuCasa restaurant, and therefore would be a reduction in impact. Further, he said because the number of daily trips is less, a traffic study was not required.

LJCPA trustee Joe LaCava noted that he didn’t think it was “fair” of DPR to make the traffic evaluation request at its final DPR review. “If the DPR wanted T&T input, they should have told you at the onset and you could have done it concurrently. Because we use T&T as a subcommittee, we can use discretion and make our own decision. We do not need to have T&T weigh in.”

Ultimately, LJCPA ratified the findings of the DPR committee without requiring input from T&T and approved the project. From here, Marengo later told La Jolla Light, the project will go to the city for final review. He said if all goes well, the project could break ground this fall. In the meantime, Su Casa restaurant remains open for business.

In other Planning Assoc. news

Lot line adjustment: Held over from last month’s meeting, the Ngala Residence lot line adjustment was approved. The applicant seeks a coastal development permit and site development permit for proposed lot line adjustments of approximately 6,327 square feet from 5612-5646 Rutgers Road and 1511 Copa de Oro to 1550 Via Corona. LJCPA voted to ratify the findings of its DPR committee that the project conforms to the La Jolla Community Plan for a Coastal Development Permit and Site Development Permit.

Remodel ready to go: After a lengthy presentation by applicant, architect Tony Crisafi, plans for the Fan Residence at 8295 Prestwick Drive was also approved. The board ratified the decision of its Permit Review Committee that findings can be made for a Coastal Development Permit and Site Development Permit to demolish an existing residence and construct a new 5,757 square-foot two-story residence over a 1,381 square-foot basement on a 0.132 acre lot.

— LJCPA next meets 6 p.m. Thursday Feb. 4 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.