La Jolla developers OK easement exchange, block parcel meld

At its Nov. 21 meeting, the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee (DPR) recommended the approval of a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) for the Cowrie Ave. Easement Exchange project, in which the applicant requested an easement vacation for a 15-foot-wide portion of an existing 40-foot-wide sewer easement, and a CDP for a 3,464-square-foot addition to an existing 2,764-square-foot single-dwelling unit at 7709 Prospect Place.

A CDP had already been issued in December 2017 for a previously exempt 50% remodel. But the house was sold to new owners who weren’t in love with those plans.

Presenter Michael Atwell — taking over for architect Paige Koopman, who returned home to New Zealand following her presentation the previous week — brought to the meeting everything the committee requested, including site and landscaping plans.

The committee still had several problems with the application — mostly involving the garage, which members would like to have seen placed on the opposite side. DPR chair Brian Will also said he would like whole house build five feet away from the neighbor’s property line.

“I’d love to ask for that, I’d love you to offer that, but the client has to spend money,” Will said. “We can ask the applicant to come back with a redesign, (but) Paige said that the owner might just consider moving forward with the (originally) permitted project.” (The committee liked the new remodel proposal significantly more than the previous one.)

Trustee Mike Costello said he was glad the applicant applied for a CDP instead of seeking a resolution “in closed-door discussions with the City downtown.”

The vote was 5-1-1 in favor of the CDP.

No part and parcel

DPR recommended against a CDP 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 existing 1,661-square foot dwelling at 5673 Linda Rosa Ave. in Bird Rock.

The project appeared to the committee to be designed to reach the maximum possible floor-area ratio (FAR) without benefiting the community, since most of the construction would be concentrated on the parcel facing the street.

“You’re taking the gross floor area that you can get out of both lots and putting it all on the other lot, which would otherwise be non-compliant,” Costello said. “That’s misusing what gross floor area is supposed to be. You’re supposed to have your house on the lot, not across the street. Come back with a compliant project.”

Trustee Elizabeth Gaenzle said: “I’m just having a real hard time justifying such a monster house on such a small house — even with the consolidation. Everything is just jammed in there to get the most money, and it’s not conducive to Bird Rock. Go down Beaumont (Avenue) and everyone knows what happened there. And now we have a chance to prevent that from happening again.”

Before a motion to vote was introduced, Will gave the presenters (Mark Morris and Erik Buchanan of Oasis Architecture & Design and Rick Turner of KAPPA Surveying and Engineering) an opportunity to return to DPR instead, with plans that address the criticisms expressed. But the applicants said they preferred the vote.

“I’m telling you I’m designing a house not to be an eyesore,” Buchanan said. “I personally feel like I’ve designed a beautiful house consistent with Bird Rock ... and it saddens me that this is the attitude — that I’m creating something undesirable.”

A motion that findings could be made for the CDP failed 1-4-2. Then a motion that findings could not be made — because “the proposal puts too much density on the front lot impacting the streetscape and the neighborhood scale” — passed 5-1-1 and will be forwarded to the La Jolla Community Planning Association, which will then make its recommendation to the City.

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