Permitters approve zoning proposal, new residence project in La Jolla


At the July 18 meeting of the Development Permit Review committee (DPR) permitters approved an endorsement of the proposal by several La Jolla residents to add a new path for development in La Jolla, killing the “50 percent” exemption that some builders use to bypass the costly and time-consuming community review process.

“We want to report back to you about what we’ve done,” said trustee Diane Kane, a member of the group behind the proposal.

Addded group leader Sharon Wampler, “Since we last presented here, we’ve made presentations to the La Jolla Shores Association, La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee and La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance Advisory Board.” Most of the presentations were information-only, meaning the groups couldn’t make a decision to endorse the proposal, but she was excited to share the Shores Planned District Ordinance board voted to support the plans.

The Incentive-Based Zoning for Coastal Development proposal intends to provide an alternative for builders and homeowners who, by abiding by a certain criteria and rules, can avoid the Coastal Development Permit process altogether and obtain an over-the-counter permit from the City. The effort started two years ago when Bird Rock neighbors were trying to find a solution to the “mansionization” process they claimed was happening in the area (out-of-scale large homes replacing small cottages).

The plan proposes to adhere to a more conservative definition of gross floor area, a parameter used to calculate the Floor Area Ratio (FAR). The Municipal Code observes certain limits to the FAR depending on the size of a lot, but many developers have found ways around the rule, maximizing the size of the houses — and accelerating the “mansionization” of residential neighborhoods.

Of this more conservative FAR definition, the proposal intends to subtract .2 (FARs in La Jolla usually range from .4 to .6) from the given number, and then allow architects to gain those FAR points back by complying with different lines on a checklist. Features such as greater setbacks, mass breaking by stepping back second stories and articulating the front façade of a building are included on the list.

“This is not written in stone, this is a working document. Once it gets to the City, it needs revisions, but at least we can start the conversation,” Wampler cautioned. The conversation meandered around topics such as whether La Jolla Shores — an area with a different layer of rules and known for its subjectivity. “We are trying to figure out how the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance would work with this,” she added.

A motion to “recommend the latest iteration of the Incentive-Based Zoning for Coastal Development proposal for the residential based zone portions of La Jolla with a recommendation to presenters to define by what mechanism the process is going to come back to LJCPA (La Jolla Community Planning Association)” passed 7-0-1.

The proposal will be heard next at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3 during the LJCPA meeting at the La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect Street.

Megdal residence

A project to construct a 4,670-square-foot single dwelling unit with attached 527-square-foot garage at 6003 Vista De La Mesa received unanimous approval from DPR committee members. To design it, architect Tim Golba, a member of the Incentive-Based Zoning for Coastal Development, admitted to have applied the proposed “checklist” to his project.

Kane said, “To address the question of what would we be giving City staff to check over the counter, this is the sort of product we could expect.”

Though DPR trustees seemed satisfied with the project, area neighbors attended the meeting to ask questions and include comments on the record. Resident Gloria Shattil criticized Golba for starting his project at an existing higher elevation (the current single-family residence on the lot sits atop a pedestal) and she commented, “The neighborhood has a certain atmosphere, and that’s not in keeping with it. It has a lot of historic houses … that house looks a little bit like a recreation center.”

Golba replied that the “rec center look” would be prevented because the frontyard pool would be elevated and invisible from the street.

Two condo conversions

Committee members approved two projects to convert existing rental units on one lot into condominium properties at 7209 7211 La Jolla Blvd. and 654-656 Rosemont St. — presented by two different applicants, Beth Reiter and Rob Bateman respectively.

The applicants discussed the board members’ questions asked in previous presentations. The La Jolla Boulevard project faced some opposition for the relocation and detachment of an existing carport (which will be turned into a garage) and the construction of an outdoor staircase. Finally, both projects garnered enough “yay” votes to advance to LJCPA.

Hardiman residence

A project to demolish an existing single-family, one-story cottage and construct in its place a two-story-over-basement house at 5626 Dolphin Place, trailed from the previous DPR meeting, was tabled to present for the third time at the Aug. 15 DPR meeting.

Plans call for a 2,400-square-foot house with a 1,236-square-foot basement and a 475-square-foot garage, totaling 4,110 square feet of constructed area on a 0.11-acre site. The design features a U-shaped element on the second story, white stucco walls with glass elements and wood touches.

In his first presentation at the July 11 meeting, architect Joshua Wood faced criticism from a neighbor to east, whose ocean views would be diminished. “We did lower the upper floor by 6 inches. Any more than that and it starts to detrimentally affect this property’s view. We put our roof line in the back in the view of our neighbor,” Woods explained.

La Jolla resident Phil Merten, representing seven neighbors, gave a presentation highlighting areas where he thought Wood had miscalculations, such as the gross floor area of the structure, the length of the driveway and the number of parking spaces provided.

Wood defended his plans saying “(We) will have to agree to disagree.”

Chair Mike Costello suggested Wood come back at a later meeting to show his calculations are on the mark, or correcting any errors.

La Jolla’s evelopment Permit Review committee next meets 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.