Four projects received permit recommendations from the La Jolla Development Permit Review (DPR) committee at its March 19 meeting. A uncomfortably contentious fifth project, which returned to DPR for the fourth time and was greeted by protests from angry neighbors, resulted in a no-vote.
DPR approved the Coastal Development Permit (CDP) sought by applicant’s rep Tim Golba to construct two houses on two vacant lots at 1188 and 1200 Muirlands Drive. (One house totals 8,451 square feet, the other 8,510 square feet.)
At issue was the damage caused by overzealous grubbing — without a required permit — that destroyed many of the property’s trees. Golba and Frank Marczynski, owner of Topia Landscape, presented a landscape plan — including 26 new olive and palm trees, native grasses and rock work suggested by DPR trustee Diane Kane — that pleased the committee, as did its plan for water-runoff control.
“I think this is an improvement from what we saw last week and I thank you for taking on the challenge and meeting it admirably,” Kane said.
There was no public comment, although project opponent Phil Merten requested, via an e-mail read by chair pro tem Mike Costello, that the committee not recommend it.
“In no project I can remember as a CPA member has an applicant illegally graded and grubbed a site to the extent of this,” Merten wrote. “The illegal grubbing and grading is a significant issue that will surely be addressed in the City’s environmental document.” (Costello commented that Merten would get “another swing at this at CPA.”)
The vote was 4-1-1, with trustee Beth Gaenzle dissenting.“Splitting the lots is changing the character of the neighborhood, and I’m just not happy about that,” she said.
Impasse on Encelia
Susan Smith and her husband, Walter, partners in Education Lab Architects, hit an impasse in their effort to land 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.
Although they produced all items the committee asked to see in support of the 15,000-square-foot home they plan to build on a 19,000-square-foot lot — including the First Assessment Letter and hydrology reports confirming that drainage plans comply with City code — four neighbors showed up to vehemently oppose the project, which caused the committee to deadlock on a vote, 3-3.
Ron Schachar, who identified himself as a neighbor living west of the property, said that the hill beneath the proposed house is unstable and requires a full geo-technical analysis before any permit is issued. He said that the City was remiss not to consider this a hazard zone.
“Just because you put the pylons in, doesn’t mean you have a stable situation,” he said, questioning the degree of the slope — saying it was at least 60 degrees, more than the angle recorded by the City.
Jacqueline Evans, daughter of another neighbor, brought her own blowup photo and placed it on the architects’ easel.
“This is three times bigger than the average home in this neighborhood,” she said. “This to me looks like Marina Del Rey. This does not look like La Jolla.”
Kane sympathized with the neighbors, saying: “It’s scary to me what the City is allowing to be built on Mt. Soledad. I’ve got a lot of stuff built above me that I’m concerned will end up on top of me. Also, it’s on a hillside, so there’s construction-management issues — and it’s out of character with the neighborhood.
“Other than that, I love your project,” Kane said, “somewhere else, maybe Marina Del Rey.”
Trustee Angeles Liera suggested separately meeting with the residents to smooth problems out.
Costello concurred: “What DPR prides itself in doing is trying to resolve issues.”
But the applicant’s reps did not agree. And when Kane suggested the architects at least build a model to better demonstrate scale for the neighbors, Walter pushed back.
“We’ve been coming here for two months,” he said. “The notification from the City went out three months ago. I hear what you’re saying, and I think making models for neighbors across the street who want the house to be pushed down further is a difficult undertaking.”
Walter asked for a vote, which resulted in a 3-3 tie. Thus, the project will head to LJCPA with no recommendation.
Owner Ihor Lys, who had been watching from the back, commented after the no-vote: “While I understand the neighbors have brought up a whole bunch of issues, they really don’t have any issues other than the height,” he said. “If we have to come back five more times with the same plan or modifications of the same plan, it’s not going to make the house any smaller or any lower. We’re already compromising substantially. This property is a large, beautiful property, which is why I bought it.”
Also at DPR
- 7025 Vista Del Mar: The committee recommended a CDP to build a 194-square-foot addition to an existing 3,222-square-foot, historically designated house at 7025 Vista Del Mar Ave., and to build a 729-square-foot detached companion union. Presented by Nick Wilson of Island Architects — who was joined by his boss, Tony Crisafi, when tough questions were raised by Kane about what was on the other side of the house’s property line — received unanimous approval. “I’m not a fan of companion units or no parking spaces,” Costello said, “but they’re legal.”
- Alcorn raises roof: Applicant’s rep James Alcorn got the thumbs-up for a CDP he sought to build a 500-square-foot companion unit over an existing detached 500-square-foot garage at 714 Forward Street. The unit would take an existing room, raise the roof four feet and add a bathroom and kitchenette. “It’ll make it a little bit easier for the girl that’s living up there to not have to run back to the house in the middle of the night,” Alcorn said, thanking the committee members, several of whom complimented the architecture.
- 9046 La Jolla Shores Lane: After applicant’s rep Gary Cohn produced a parking plan showing how six cars can fit into his proposed garage, he received a unanimous vote in favor of the CDP and SDP he requested for a 1,943-square-foot addition to an existing 9,799 square-foot house at 9046 La Jolla Shores Lane.
— The La Jolla Development Permit Review committee next meets 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 9 at the La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.