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La Jolla developers give Gillispie School go-ahead to grow

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Applicant rep Joe La Cava successfully makes the Gillispie School’s case for expansion at the Feb. 19 La Jolla Development Pemit Review Committee meeting.
(COREY LEVITAN)

The Gillispie School now has the unanimous recommendation of the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee (DPR) to remodel a neighboring retail building at 7380 Girard Ave. for school use, and to merge the building’s lot with Gillispie’s, as part of a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) and Conditional Use Permit amendment.

The La Jolla Planned District Ordinance (PDO) committee previously found the project inconsistent with some elements of the PDO, but ultimately voted to support the change in use. However, the committee accepted the explanation — offered by Gillispie rep Joe La Cava at DPR’s Feb. 19 meeting — that the PDO committee had to consider outdated policies against changing uses from retail to education in that area, and against projects without front-yard setbacks.

“PDO Zone 1 is intended to be a retail experience,” La Cava said. “But landlords are having difficulty finding tenants. It’s just apparently too far away from the more intense retail. I think that’s one of the challenges we have is that we have a little too much retail in this environment.”

La Cava addressed all issues brought up during the preliminary review on Jan. 15 except one, of which he was reminded by trustee Matthew Welsh: public access through an alley in the parking lot.

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“Can that be preserved in some way?” Welsh asked.

The answer he got was no.

“It’s just so important nowadays to keep schools intact,” La Cava said. “They are going to preserve the use of the parking lot for the Open Aire Farmer’s Market but not for the alleyway. They’ve actually had some problems with that.”

No passing grade yet

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Presenter Tim Golba did not receive the committee’s support for a CDP to construct two new houses on two vacant lots at 1188 Muirlands Drive and 1200 Muirlands Drive. A motion that findings could be made failed 1-3, and the architect was asked by DPR chair Brian Will to return with “a very generous landscape package.”

This followed some intense debate over the degree of responsibility that falls on someone who purchases a property to restore damage done by a previous owner.

“We didn’t do any grading,” Golba said. “We put in a very effective erosion-control fix. We took out dead weeds and put in living grass. We’re talking about a previous landscaper who got a little overambitious.”

Golba offered that “many large canary palms” would be added to the lots, to which Will replied: “If the City chooses to allow the remediation efforts to be included with the development-permit process, we should probably spend a little time asking ourselves whether the proposed landscape does an adequate job to remediate the grubbing loss.”

During public comment, community activist Melinda Merryweather noted: “It’s sad to see all those trees lost. We are ruining La Jolla.”

Also at DPR

  • Gate issues temporarily closed: Scott Kivel, who seeks a Neighborhood Development Permit and an amendment to a CDP for two gates encroaching into the public right-of-way at the home he owns at 1228 Park Row, agreed to update his site plan with more accurate dimensions, take better photographs and resolve his cycle issues with the City before returning to DPR. Kivel noted that he’s “working with the City on putting the items on the plan that were omitted by the architect” and needs another four-to-six weeks. During that time, Will encouraged committee members to visit the site “and perhaps put tape measure in hand” to determine dimensions that were disputed during the discussion.
  • 7248 Encelia Drive/7231 Romero Drive: Susan Smith and her husband, Walter, partners in Education Lab Architects, continued presenting their case for a CDP and Site Development Permit (SDP) to demolish an existing house at 7248 Encelia Drive damaged due to a landslide that occurred on a second lot at 7231 Romero Drive. They’d like to construct three-story single dwelling measuring 15,000 square feet on a 19,000-square-foot lot. Will said the committee would need to see the City’s cycle issues addressed before voting on the project. He asked the applicants to return to DPR on March 12 and to “make us feel warm and fuzzy about the size of the house.”
  • 544 Arenas St.: A preliminary review was given applicant reps Lucy Martinez and Brian Kuzdas for a CDP to demolish an existing single-family dwelling and build a new, net-zero house at 544 Arenas St. The applicants were instructed to return with more photos.

— DPR next meets 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 12 at the La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St., Room 1.


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