Driveway proves problematic in La Jolla Shores development project


A debate over the driveway on a proposed development in La Jolla Shores seemed to be a stumbling block toward getting La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC) approval, during the board’s July 15 meeting. After some in-depth back-and-forth about the driveway — along with some other smaller issues — the board deferred a vote on the project to a future meeting.

Applicant’s rep David Hall explained the project would add 68 square feet to the existing 1,325-square-foot, single-story house because “it was important to us to not extend the footprint beyond the basic building area to preserve the front yard and rear yard,” and add a 1,575-square-foot second floor at 8144 Paseo Del Ocaso. An existing 371-square-foot companion unit would remain.

Although homeowner Brandon Price went to extensive lengths to reach other surrounding homeowners, and provided letters in support with correlating addresses (some were reportedly in support, but were not comfortable providing a letter; others in the area are renters), issues with the shorter-than-standard 13-foot driveway lingered.

“You are better than most, but there are a lot of houses with driveways that are too short, so cars stick out on the sidewalk,” PRC chair Dave Gordon said, addressing Price. “Some cars block the sidewalk entirely and those that walk the neighborhood have to walk around these cars into the street.”

During a brief discussion, trustees noted it was not within their purview to ask the applicant to redesign the driveway on a remodel project.

However, when Hall quietly noted that more than 50 percent of the existing walls would be coming down, and therefore the 50-percent rule for a remodel would not apply, some trustees questioned whether the project is a remodel or effectively a new house, and if driveway length should be revisited.

Trustee Tony Crisafi opined, “The driveway length is substandard when the house is basically brand new.”

Janie Emerson added, “You are in a gray area with the length of the driveway because the requirement (for a new house) is 20 feet.”

Crisafi continued to cite local building codes, which stated, “Whenever an existing use, which does not provide all of the off-street parking spaces required by the Municipal Code, is enlarged by an increase in the dwelling units … there shall be provided concurrently with such enlargement a minimum of twice the number of parking spaces as would be necessitated by the magnitude of said enlargement …” and recommended the applicant take the issue up with a City planner for clarification.

Adding his own opinion, he said, “If you are redeveloping a property, to not expand the parking doesn’t make sense to me.”

However, Hall argued the number of units was not changing, just the number of bedrooms. “So we are not increasing the use,” he said.

Other issues included the overall size and lack of articulation compared to surrounding houses in the neighborhood.

All said, the board asked the applicant to come back with a street-scape that shows the house in relation to other houses on the block, including a matrix of surrounding setbacks for comparison; the floor-area ratio of the proposed house along with those in the neighborhood, so the board could measure how the house relates to others in the area; and to reconsider the length of the driveway and consider changes to the sides of the building to add articulation.

— La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee next meets (pending items to review) at 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.