Permitters say ‘nay’ to Calle del Cielo 8-lot subdivision in La Jolla Shores


During a standing-room-only La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC) meeting June 27, controversy arose after the presentation of a project to subdivide the last open-space lot in La Jolla Shores.

Developed by Louis Beacham, designed by Alcorn & Benton Architects, engineered by Tony Christensen and landscaped by Jim Neri, the project pulls the weight of some of the biggest names in the local construction business. But for PRC board members and area neighbors, that’s not enough.

The plans call for an eight-lot subdivision on a 4.45-acre site at 8280 Calle del Cielo. The site is located east of La Jolla Shores Drive and south of Calle del Oro, at the end of a cul-de-sac. Seven of the eight, approximately half-acre lots would have access from Calle del Cielo and the eighth from Calle Frescota, a private street off La Jolla Shores Drive.

The plan calls for grading the parcel and building a road extending Calle del Cielo first, and then constructing the individual, 7,500-square-foot custom houses once buyers are identified.

For building the two-story houses, architects are taking advantage of the steep slope within the lot, making the structures look like one-story homes from the east.

PDO board approves 8-lot subdivision in La Jolla Shores »

Drainage issues

Civil engineer Christensen explained that the site drains primarily to La Jolla Shores Drive through Calle Frescota. In previous meetings, neighbors reported flooding problems with the runoff coming from the parcel, and were worried about a 14-inch pipe that dispersed the stormwater on the private street before reaching La Jolla Shores Drive.

At the June 27 meeting, Christensen announced a change to the original design. “Fifty-five percent of the site runoff will be conveyed in Calle del Cielo and then down into the drainage system on Calle del Oro. We decreased the total runoff to La Jolla Shores Drive for about 51 percent, it should improve the conditions on the street, which we understand are not ideal.”

He demonstrated how an 18-inch underground pipe would direct runoff to the storm drain on Calle del Oro, and the pipe on Calle Frescota would be reduced to 10 inches wide.

However, that wasn’t enough for neighbors of the private street. During public comment, Lynn Kavanaugh said, “I’m at the bottom of the hill on La Jolla Shores Drive, where all that drainage is dumping in my front yard. I oppose (this project) vehemently as does my neighbor. The drainage is not workable. You’re ignoring the people who live there and knows better where the water goes. (Your plan) doesn’t make sense to us.”

Architect Paul Benton clarified that the developer had compromised to replace the pavement and curb at Kavanaugh’s end of the street to minimize the chances of flooding, but she said she still opposed the drainage “situation.”

4.45-acre La Jolla Shores site to be subdivided into eight lots »

Substantial conformance review

For PRC trustee Janie Emerson, her biggest concern with the project is the uncertainty of what would eventually be built on-site. “I don’t trust the City. We’ve all been doing this long enough, trying to have them adjudicate substantial conformance, and they won’t have it.”

Substantial conformance review is a process the final house designs would undergo, wherein the City compares the plans with the building guidelines and checks if they match. Reviewed elements include heights and setbacks.

“The City has been very adamant that we put the heights on rooftops, and they want to be able see whether there are significant changes being requested, and if there are, they have to come back to your committee,” Beacham replied.

Although the will of trustees was split between those who wanted to approve the project and those who wanted the plans to come back in a month, the developer requested a vote.

“We have met with all the surrounding neighbors, at their homes, on the site, with various committees. We’re committed to hearing everybody’s concerns and doing what we can to mitigate them,” Beacham started. “We redirected 55 percent of the drainage down Calle de Oro, reduced the size of the pipe going down the private drive, at considerable expense.

“Our goal is to create a fabulous development, beautiful homes. I’ve been developing in La Jolla for many years and I’m totally committed to this project. If there are any other concerns, we will do the best we can to mitigate them.”

A motion to have the applicant come back in July failed 2-2-3. A second motion that findings could not be made for the requested permits, passed 4-1-2.

The project will be heard at the next La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting, 6 p.m. Thursday, July 6 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

In other PRC news:

A project to repair the canyon-side slope at 7411 Hillside Drive was approved unanimously. Also, the plans for an addition and remodel at 8501 Avenida de las Ondas were heard at the meeting, including a 670-square-foot first floor addition, 1,908-square-foot second floor addition, garage, spa and new deck. The applicant will return at an upcoming meeting.

PRC meets 4 p.m. fourth Tuesdays at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.