La Jolla Permit reviewers green-light Marengo Morton project

The La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee (DPR) gave Michael Morton of Marengo Morton Architects the go-ahead to remodel the front yard of a single-family residence at 622 Palomar Avenue, and convert an existing second-floor office to a companion unit. Morton gets to proceed to the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) with a DPR seal of approval for the Coastal Development Permits (CDP).

Current parking at the structure violates code because the driveway is too short for average-sized cars to park without blocking the sidewalk. So Morton proposes modifying the house so that two cars can park tandem on the adjacent front yard that he will landscape with artificial turf. This was basically in exchange for bringing a 488-square-foot office up to municipal code since it is already being rented out as a companion unit. (Because the companion unit is within a quarter mile of a transit zone — La Jolla Boulevard — the City does not require it to have its own parking spot.)

“I see this as a game,” as DPR chair Brian Will put it during the May 8 meeting. “In exchange for 488 square feet of companion unit, we’re getting two more parking spaces.”

The motion to recommend did not pass without a fight, though, and only because Will decided to break a tie vote, 3-2. This seems odd for a project that came just one vote short of being fast-tracked at its preliminary review. But many objections were raised this time by LJCPA trustee Phil Merten, who dropped in to challenge Morton during the public discussion, as well as by DPR trustee Mike Costello, the lone opponent of fast-tracking the project last time.

Merten argued that the proposed spaces infringed on the front-yard setback. Morton agreed to, as he described, “shove the spaces further into the lot,” which he did as the committee watched.

Costello commented: “Parking wherever you can fit space to me doesn’t sound like a good plan.” He said that “when you start parking in front yards and vehicles up and down the street, it begins to look like sections of Clairemont.”

Morten agreed to disagree, stating: “The City realizes this is a beach impact zone and onsite parking is a premium. The only thing they care about is that there enough parking in the area.”

He then added that he also objected because “I live in Clairemont.”

Also at DPR

Property owner Chris Fermanian showed up to join his architect, Elizabeth Carmichael, in requesting a CDP to demolish an existing single dwelling unit and construct two, new, two-story residential units totaling at 623 Colima Street. But findings could not be made for a recommendation due to bulk and scale, and lack of articulation and neighborhood character. So the no-vote carries forward to LJCPA.

— DPR next meets Tuesday, June 12 at 4 p.m. at the La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St.