Planning Association approves projects for La Jolla Blvd., Bird Rock, La Jolla Shores

A series of diverse projects for La Jolla were approved — some more contentiously than others — at the June 7 La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) meeting. A small sub-set of other projects on the agenda were tabled to a future meeting, and Diane Kane was sworn in as a new trustee.

La Jolla Blvd. refuge island

After the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation advisory group approved a proposal for a pedestrian refuge island (a physical structure that provides a place for pedestrians crossing the street to stop if traffic does not allow them to go all the way across the street) on La Jolla Boulevard near the intersection of Mira Monte, it came before LJCPA.

It was scheduled to be approved in May, but pulled from the consent agenda for a full presentation. Resident Zoe Kleinbub, with the support of City staff, requested the refuge island because the area is frequented by pedestrians getting to and from the nearby La Jolla United Methodist Church and the Fay Avenue bike path.

However, LJCPA trustee Cindy Greatrex argued the traffic studies associated with the project were “rushed” and it was unclear what was being presented. She explained there was some discussion about flashing lights associated with the refuge island, but were not identified as part of the vote. Further, there is a crosswalk at the intersection, and some board members questioned the design planning that would put a refuge island near a crosswalk.

Hoping to meet in the middle, a motion to approve the refuge island installation with the recommendation that engineers “continue to develop the concept” before it is installed passed 11-2-2.

Demolition project

A demolition project for a house at 9036 La Jolla Shores Lane was approved largely without incident. The project calls for a Coastal Development Permit to demolish one existing residential building, which representative Matt Peterson said is considered an “eyesore” totaling 1,706 square feet, as well as the 220-square-foot detached garage. Only landscaping is planned for its place. “My client is incorporating the lot into the (next door) yard,” Peterson said.

There was no public comment nor board comment in opposition to the plan, so a motion to approve passed 14-0-1.

Colima St. tear-down/rebuild

Although a project to demolish an existing single dwelling unit on two lots and construct two, new, two-story residential units totaling 5,675 square feet (2,777 square-foot west unit, and 2,898 square-foot east unit) at 623 Colima St. in Bird Rock came before LJCPA with a no vote from the Development Permit Review committee, it was narrowly approved 8-6-1.

Largely at issue is a window on one of the houses that a neighbor said looks into his yard.

To accommodate, applicant’s representative Elizabeth Carmichael said changes were made, such as having the majority of windows on the first story, setting back the second story, and adding landscaping in the area of most concern.

The resident called the area in question “a very private area” because there is a pool there.

However, LJCPA trustee Brian Will opined: “I don’t think we can set the precedent that if someone wants privacy in their swimming pool, that means no one gets second-story windows next to them. It’s completely unrealistic. This applicant went out of their way to minimize as many windows as they could. The only one on the second floor is set back so there is no diagonal view, they put blinders on the view.”

Further, some of the design choices and whether the lot sizes were of legal sizes were questioned. All said, a motion that findings could be made for the project passed 8-6-1.

Black Halibut re-vote

Most contentious of all was the re-vote of the Black Halibut project, which calls for the demolition of an existing 2,578-square-foot single-story residence and 639-square-foot building, and construct a new two-story-over-basement 6,927 square-foot single-family residence at 8470 El Paseo Grande in La Jolla Shores. It was approved 7-6-2 by LJCPA in April, but a re-vote was requested in May following an accusation by LJCPA trustee Phil Merten of misrepresentation on the part of applicant Claude Anthony Marengo.

Merten outlined his oppositions to the project, and handed out informational paperwork to the board.

Marengo in turn critiqued that the information was given to the committee, but not to the applicant, saying, “This is ridiculous. This has old information … we think this is a little biased.”

The two further disagreed about interpretations of applicable code, and called each other out by name.

At one point, trustee Mike Costello asked the chair to force Marengo to “stop these personal attacks.” But Marengo argued he was actually the subject of the personal attacks.

Trustee Dave Little said Marengo was “taking the approach that, if there is a faulty design, attack the people that question it,” which Marengo denied.

Speaking for the project, trustee Will explained: “Thanks to the opposition, this project has been reviewed over and over again at the highest level by the City, and they found it to be in conformance. I think they’ve rendered any questions about satisfying the code resolved. I can’t support any argument that says the house doesn’t fit. This project came back to us almost entirely on the back of it being ‘misleading’ and we have (renderings to consider). I don’t know what is left to debate on this project.”

A motion to recommend denying the project failed 6-7-2. A counter motion to support the project was originally tied 6-6-3, but chair Bob Steck broke the tie to make the final vote 7-6-2 in support.

— La Jolla Community Planning Association next meets 6 p.m. Thursday, July 5 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. The LJCPA website is temporarily down.

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