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Development planned for ‘Rutgers Road’ open space

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An application has been filed with the City of San Diego to construct two new single-dwelling units and two companion units on two lots on this vacant spot on the corner of Cass Street and Van Nuys Street.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

A controversial piece of property that straddles La Jolla and Pacific Beach — one that the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) once asked be preserved as open space — could be developed with housing.

An application has been filed with the City of San Diego to construct two new single-dwelling units and two companion units on two lots, totaling 4,439 square feet on a hilly property at the northeast corner of the intersection of Cass Street and Van Nuys Street, in what became known as the Rutgers Road open space.

The decision to approve or deny the application will be made at a public hearing, at a date to be announced. The project is undergoing environmental review.

When heard at La Jolla’s planning groups in late 2016 and early 2017, most of them approved the City’s request for a street vacation so the property could be put on the market. The parcel is 0.129-acre (5,600 square feet) and undeveloped. Other surrounding properties are privately owned, but also undeveloped. The City purchased the property in the 1950s to extend Rutgers Road, but having never done so, decided to vacate the street and sell the property.

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Applicants seeking the street vacation said the parcel had been offered to various City entities with the possibility of it becoming a park, and none were interested.

The Pacific Beach Planning Group approved the street vacation in September 2016 by a vote of 8-3-1. Soon after, La Jolla’s Development Permit Review Committee (DPR) approved the vacation, 5-0-1; and La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group also approved the street vacation, 16-2-1.

Most of those who supported the street vacation said the City could “use the money” (the sale of the lot would go to the City’s general fund) and given its difficult topography, it would not be suitable for other uses, such as a public park.

However, in January 2017, the LJCPA narrowly voted against the street vacation, in the interest of preserving the land as open space, 8-7-0.

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At the time, trustee Phil Merten opined: “Our community plan calls for the preservation of open space and I think in following the intent of our community plan, we shouldn’t be on the side of letting these spaces go. It’s a pretty special place. I think this undeveloped piece of open space should remain just that and not be sold away for another house. We just don’t need another house in the neighborhood.”

Agreeing, trustee Mike Costello said: “I was astonished that no (department) had any interest to preserve this as open space. Once you put a house on there, you lose it forever. This is the last chance to keep this little space open.”

As the proposed street vacation made the community-planning rounds, the possibility of a house being built on that property was posed, but could not be addressed. City property agent Dena Boylan said that should the property be developed, it is considered one legal lot, so “only one single family residence could be put there … at a maximum floor area of 3,317 square feet.”

To accommodate the proposed 4,439-square-foot development, the application includes a slope easement to consolidate and subdivide two lots.

The applicant named to develop the property is Jeanne Liem.


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