Permit Review board chair steps down after five years

The La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee (DPR) meeting on Oct. 17 was the last with architect Paul Benton as chair. He resigned after five years of service. With his characteristic soft but relentless style, Benton governed the meetings with restraint and good judgement. “Everybody knows that I like to follow the rules,” he said, on more than one occasion.

The reason for his resignation, Benton explained, was his desire to focus on his role as executive architect of the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla galleries expansion. Although a replacement has not been confirmed, Benton offered his services for a “nice and easy transition.”

“In my experience, these committees show how seriously architects take the planning and design issues in La Jolla; it seems every project has something new that is thoughtful and delightful and brings out the spirit of their project. We have some excellent architects working in La Jolla, and I am grateful I have had the chance to see their view of their work in detail,” Benton wrote in a farewell statement.

In other DPR news:

New home on Chelsea Street: A project to demolish an existing single-family dwelling and construct an 8,963-square-foot unit on 5228 Chelsea St. was presented for preliminary review by applicant Claude Anthony Marengo. With two living floors, an upstairs semi-open “cabaña” area on the roof and a basement, the plans feature a maximum height of 29.7 feet, cutting it close to the 30-foot limit.

Marengo demonstrated how the plans meet the 25-foot bluff setback, the 16-foot side view requirements and a 10-foot setback at the front, established by the zoning map. The proposed materials are a mix of wood, stone, stucco and glass. Project architects, the Blue Heron firm based in Nevada, “blend aesthetics with function in our desert contemporary style,” according to its website.

DPR members complimented the design. “I’m not too jazzed about modern design, but the way it’s done I think it looks really sharp,” said Mike Costello. The building features two “basement light wells.” These are “courtyards where the basement can have daylight out and a patio,” Marengo explained.

He also elaborated on the decision to install a garage lift rather than a driveway. “I’m doing more and more of the turntables and elevators,” he said. “It’s proving to be better for water proofing, it’s money better spent. You spend $40,000 on a driveway that shoots water right into the house, when I can spend up to $50,000 on an elevator and it seals it all up.”

The project will return to DPR for final review where the applicant must submit a colored rendering of the plans including the landscape, water and light well elements, copies of the geological report and a photo montage on scale of the bulk context within three houses on each side.

Herschel Triplex: Trustees received an update on alleged changes to the design of the Herschel Triplex at 7569 Herschel Ave. The project was approved by DPR in April, 2015 and construction reportedly started a year later. Attorney Kevin Haley brought his concerns about changes made in September to the DPR-approved design, specific to the height, the number and size of windows and slider doors, and the material of sidings and balconies.

Chair Benton reminded trustees that the board has no power to enforce its own recommendations. “We cannot compell anybody to present to us, they present when they make an application and then it comes to us,” he said. “If we believe something is wrong, then the duty is on us as individuals to notify City Code Compliance, as Mr. Haley has done, and then their job is to follow through and find out for themselves.”

Rutgers Road: A preliminary presentation on the Rutgers Road street vacation was tabled to a later meeting awaiting input from La Jolla Parks & Beaches board, which may review the project at its meeting 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24 at the Rec Center.The City hopes to vacate an unimproved portion of Rutgers Road and put it in the open market. The land was purchased in 1957, but was never used or developed.

DPR next meets 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollacpa.org

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