La Jolla developers green-light final hurdle to art museum's renovation

Not all hurdles to construction were cleared before the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) staged its groundbreaking ceremony back on Oct. 18. At the La Jolla Development Permit Review (DPR) committee meeting on Nov. 13, construction project engineer Tom Zanetti applied for and received a vacation of three easements for portions of old sewer that will not be used by the renovated museum.

(When asked to comment, MCASD spokesperson Leah Straub said that the large development permits are the ones lined up before construction, “the little ones you pick up as you go.”)

Two of the easements have no associated sewer, Zanetti said, the other is the sewer system that fed from 636 Prospect St., the house that MCASD purchased in 2000 for about $2 million. The museum is building a new sewer, Zanetti said — a private one, so no easements are required.

The preliminary review was fast-tracked following a unanimous vote, then the easement vacations were unanimously recommended by DPR for approval by the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

It was the only positive recommendation passed during the three-hour meeting.

Two of the easements have no associated sewer, Zanetti said, the other is the sewer system that fed from 636 Prospect St., the house that MCASD purchased in 2000 for about $2 million. The museum is building a new sewer, Zanetti said — a private one so no easements are required.

The preliminary review was fast-tracked following a unanimous vote, then the easement vacations were unanimously recommended by DPR for approval by the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

It was the only positive recommendation passed during the three-hour meeting.

Demo disapproval

Architect Bejan Arfaa, seeking DPR’s approval to demolish one-story 909-square-foot cottage and perform grading at 1271 Cave St., failed to secure it. In a 3-2-1 vote, DPR determined that findings cannot be made “due to lack of evidence that the house requires demolition.”

Arfaa had argued that the cottage is overridden by rodents and is an eyesore that draws complaints from neighbors. DPR previously requested evidence of the rodents, which was not provided.

In addition, board members objected to a construction fence proposed in lieu of requested landscaping during demolition, which Arfaa said was impossible to put in because there is no longer a water meter on the property and the City won’t install one temporarily.

“We don’t have any specific record about the condition of the house and why the house has to be demolished,” said trustee Angeles Liera, “and we have requested some temporary mitigation with some landscaping so that the neighborhood could remain whole and that has not been forthcoming.”

Sewer day

A preliminary review was given to Coastal Development Permit (CDP) application to vacate a 15-foot-wide portion of an existing 40-foot-wide sewer easement at 7709 Prospect Place, in order to build a 3,464-square-foot basement, garage and second-story addition to a 2,764-square-foot single dwelling unit.

“It’s sewer day,” DPR chair Brian Will joked.

Neighbor David Berger expressed his objection to a two-story wall along his property line that does not step back. (Architect Paige Koopman — who said she used to be the DPR chair about 15 years ago — replied that it would be difficult to go back and redesign.)

DPR requested several deliverables, including a City opinion of the easement and a conceptual plan to cover the wall with landscaping.

Also at DPR …

The committee gave a preliminary review to consolidate two parcels to allow an increase in gross floor area in order to build a 1,670-square-foot first- and second-story addition to an exisiting 1,661-square foot dwelling at 5673 Linda Rosa Ave.

Neighbor Dave Ish called a 3400-square-foot house squeezed in the middle of 1,500-square-foot houses “egregious.”

“It’s totally out of character with the neighborhood and doesn’t meet the La Jolla Community Plan,” Ish said.

Liera said she has “never seen” a non-contiguous lot consolidation and wondered, “Why not abandon the alley?” (Applicants Mark Morris and Erik Buchanan, of Oasis Architecture & Design, replied that it would require a full vacation, to which neighbors would have to agree).

In addition, Liera added: “Convince me that all the density is justified in being all placed on front lot.”

The deliverables DPR requested for next time include a montage of street views and evidence to support the precedent for non-contiguous lot consolidation with all density focused on one lot.

— DPR next meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11 at the La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

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