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Residents pack La Jolla Community Planning meeting to weigh in on projects

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A packed house listens to Chavelle Tate, representing the office of Senator Toni Atkins, as she discusses Senate Bills 330 and 50.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) meeting was packed to the gills in the Irving Gill room of the La Jolla Rec Center June 6, likely due to the variety of issues discussed — controversial housing bills, questionable development projects and more.

Roseland Drive

“Oh boy” was all LJCPA chair Tony Crisafi could say when seeing how many people were in attendance to speak during public comment about a project on Roseland Drive. About a dozen or so residents raised their hands for the floor, but most conceded their time to land surveyor Mike Pallamary, who had taped blown-up images of the area, applicable regulations and current construction to the walls.

The project in question was presented to the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC) in September 2018, as one to add a 1,377-square-foot second-floor to an existing 1,933-square-foot single-story house, and redevelop the first floor to add 39-square-feet at 7830 Roseland Drive. It was approved and then ratified by the LJCPA the following month.

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When presented at PRC, applicants said outreach was done by way of bright green City notices posted around the site and tri-fold notices sent in the mail. At the time, PRC chair Dave Gordon recommended person-to-person contact with neighbors.

Instead of a remodel, Pallamary said there is “massive demolition” of the property and grading that is not permitted for the area, given its proximity to a fault line. He further argued the project violates several elements of the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance.

“The applicant told the planning groups that he had consulted with the neighbors. … That was a lie. You folks were duped,” Pallamary said, adding that since construction began “there are a number of state law violations.”

Gordon once again argued that informational mailers were sent and no neighbors came forward.

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“Because we didn’t know!” residents exclaimed from the audience.

One spoke out: “A whole neighborhood did not get this notice and the notice was not posted on the street; they were on a glass wall on the deck of the home. We would have to trespass to see it.”

Crisafi said someone from LJCPA would attend an upcoming Planning Commission hearing on the project and proceed from there. However, soon after the LJCPA meeting, Pallamary announced to nearby residents that the Planning Commission had reviewed the project but “did not support our position.”

SB 50 and SB 330

Two housing Senate Bills that have gotten local attention are SB 330, The Housing Crisis Act of 2019, authored by State Senator Nancy Skinner; and SB 50, the More HOMES Act, authored by State Senator Scott Wiener. Both are intended to pave the way for more housing development, and some have asserted that would mean suspending the coastal height limit.

SB 330 would suspend specific local rules and regulations that are recognized as “obstacles to housing production.” On June 19 the California State Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee approved Senate Bill 330. Assembly member Todd Gloria from San Diego voted to support the bill.

SB 50 eliminates hyper-low-density zoning near public transit and job centers.

With state representatives on hand, several LJCPA trustees had questions.

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Chavelle Tate, representing the office of State Senator Toni Atkins, opened: “SB 330 is an active bill this year … this bill does not suspend the height limit in coastal regions. What it does say is that should a local government implement an ordinance or new legislation to decrease the height limit, that local government would be prohibited from doing that. The 30-foot height limit stays in place with SB 330.”

She produced a letter from Skinner’s office stating as such. There was not a similar letter from Wiener’s office addressing SB 50.

With SB 330 and SB 50 often getting confused, Tate added: “SB 50 deals with height limits” and that “this bill makes changes to local policy and asks that measures not be taken to make building housing more difficult. That is the whole premise of this bill.”

Commenting that it is “way more controversial” and has “a lot of moving parts,” Tate said SB 50 has been turned into a two-year bill, meaning it will not be decided this year.

Sugarman Drive project

The Sugarman Drive development — addressed at well past 9 p.m. — had at least one resident still in attendance to speak about it. The project calls for a Site Development Permit (SDP) for the construction of a two-story 5,694-square-foot family house with a 1,217-square-foot basement garage on a vacant lot at 8356 Sugarman Drive.

The project came before the La Jolla Shores PRC, which voted 5-0-1 that findings could not be made for the project based on neighborhood bulk and scale. Specifically, that it would appear larger from the street than the surrounding houses because of the second story.

Applicant Claude-Anthony Marengo said he had made some modifications since it was heard at PRC. The decreased size is a 3,454-square-foot first floor and 1,111-square-foot second floor for a total of 4,565-square feet and a 3,355 basement (it was originally two-story 5,694-square-feet with a 1,217-square-foot basement garage).

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“We took some space from the top (and moved it to) the basement level to reduce the bulk and scale at the top of the building … so the majority of the building will have similar heights all across the front,” he said. “The height of the second story is 23 feet … so when you look at the houses from left to right, you see the same fabric going across.”

Neighbor Rosanna Tolome called it a “vast improvement,” but still “over double the size of surrounding houses.” She added: “it is a community of houses that are smaller … houses that have been redone are modern but do not overtake their lots.”

Arguing that nothing about the proposed development is “perceptively larger” than the other houses on the street, LJCPA trustee Brian Will said: “our purview is community character from the public right of way, and I feel this is in line with that, not the previous design, but this design.”

A motion that findings could be made for the project with the design presented passed 10-3-1.

Panorama Homes

Pulled from the consent agenda for full presentation, the Panorama Homes project was, in essence, a debate between applicant Tim Golba and former LJCPA trustee Phil Merten. The project calls for a Coastal Development Permit for the construction of two, new single-family dwelling units on two vacant lots. The West House at 1188 Muirlands Drive totals 8,451-square-feet and the East house at 1200 Muirlands Drive totals 8,510- square-feet.

La Jolla’s Development Permit Review committee determined findings could be made, 4-1-1.

Among his objections, Merten said he was opposed to the trees being removed from the site as part of the project. “It denuded the character of the neighborhood …” he also said he objected to the permitting process that was used by the City.

Although Merten asked that the board hold off on voting until more environmental documents could be produced, a motion (with little LJCPA discussion) to support the DPR findings passed 10-2-1.

Website work

The LJCPA website is being updated, and trustees are accepting suggestions for what’s needed to better meet the needs of the community. It currently offers the board’s mission, a list of trustees, agendas, sub-committees, bylaws, minutes and more. Those with suggestions may e-mail info@lajollacpa.org

— Due to the Fourth of July holiday, the next La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting is 6 p.m. July 18 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollacpa.org


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