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Prestwick project gets ‘no’ vote from La Jolla Shores PRC

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Applicant’s reps Chandra Slaven and designer Amy Finchem from Blue Heron discuss their project with the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee, Feb. 25. It ultimately got a ‘no’ vote.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

About half of the Feb. 25 La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC) meeting at La Jolla Rec Center was devoted to the third presentation of the Herschfield Residence project at 8230 Prestwick Drive. Ultimately, the board voted that findings could not be made for the project.

The applicants sought a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) and Site Development Permit (SDP) to demolish an existing 4,067-square-foot single-family residence constructed in 1985, and construct a one-story, single-family residence with basement, decks, garage, mechanical room and backyard swimming pool totaling 12,092 square-feet. The near tripling of the size proved to be the underlying problem for neighbors and those tasked with reviewing the project.

Applicant’s representatives Chandra Slaven and designer Amy Finchem from Blue Heron were present to answer questions. Residents were also in attendance to speak out against the project, based on its perceived immensity.

“We have done our best to design this house to be essentially the same when viewed from the street, with the exception of the architecture and preserving client’s private property rights,” Slaven said, adding that four feet would be added to the overall height of the house.

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Although it was requested at previous presentations and are public record, the applicant’s reps did not bring the floor plans. “We’ve been given directions that we will not be presenting them due to privacy,” Slaven said.

PRC board chair Dave Gordon noted it was the first time he had ever seen applicant’s reps withhold floor plans.

Addressing neighborhood concerns, Barbara Groce said: “Myself and other neighbors are very concerned about the size; the scale does not conform to the neighborhood.” She presented letters from those opposed to the project who could not attend the meeting.

La Jolla resident Pat Miller said she was also representing a resident that could not be there and stated the house is “twice as large as the largest house” in the neighborhood.

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PRC trustee Tony Crisafi opined: “Frankly, I would say this does not fit in (with surrounding properties) and does not meet the terms of the community plan.” He moved that findings could not be made because of “design massing resulting in large bulk and scale with lack of articulation, and it visually conflicts with the existing community character. This project does not meet the policy guidelines of the local Community Plan, the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (Shores PDO) and the La Jolla Shores Design Manual.”

Arguing that the City would allow the project to go “much higher,” the applicants asked for specific sections of the code under which their project does not conform. “It’s hard to fix a problem when you don’t know what the problem is,” Finchem said, adding an accusatory comment directed at Crisafi: “You are much more traditional, so you wouldn’t like our work.”

After a brief discussion, Crisafi’s motion passed 5-0-1. The project was pulled for full review at the March 7 La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) meeting at the Rec Center. (See related story A6-A7).

In other Shores PRC news

Benevente residence: A project at 8516 La Jolla Shores Drive was heard in a less-than-stellar review, but will return to a future meeting for a vote. The applicants seek a SDP for construction of a second-story addition and roof deck to an existing one-story single-family residence totaling 3,961 square feet. The existing house is 1,600 square feet, and the project would add 1,550 square feet over the existing footprint. Trustees critiqued the “flat walls with no articulation,” as well as narrow setbacks, and noted their preference to have houses in this area “step back” in the wedding cake style.

Shores PRC bylaws/charter: Since the last Shores PRC meeting, the charter and bylaw discussion was taken to the La Jolla Shores Association, its parent organization. A sub-committee formed to divide the current charter into an establishing document (charter), and a document that outlines the day-to-day operations (bylaws), the latter could be updated as needed. The Shores Association approved the creation of the two documents at its February meeting.

Shores PRC trustee Janie Emerson said the LJCPA must now vote on the document. She added the PRC cannot vote on the dividing of the documents because: “The charter is very specific about what this board can do, it does not cover anything like this. So technically (a vote on the establishment of the charter and creation of the bylaws) is out of our scope.”

Rather than a vote or a motion, a “recommendation” to move the charter and the bylaws decision to the LJCPA for a vote passed.

La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee next meets (pending items to review), 4 p.m. Monday, March 18 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

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