La Jolla permit reviewers reject plan for former 76 gas station

La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee chair Brian Will, left, listens as trustee Mike Costello, right, objects to the mixed-use residential and commercial project that owner David Bourne proposes for 801 Pearl St.

During a contentious review on Nov. 19 at the La Jolla Rec Center, the La Jolla Development Permit Review (DPR) committee voted 4-2-1 that findings cannot be made to recommend the project proposed by property developer David Bourne for the former 76 Unocal Station at 801 Pearl St.

The stated reason was “because the intensification of density above the base zoning density is not appropriate to the level of affordable housing provided and does not provide the desired benefit to the community plan.”

Bourne, who purchased the property earlier this year from Mark Conger, seeks a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) to demolish and clear the gas station and build a 20,595-square-foot, two-story mixed-use building consisting of 26 residential and two retail units with 23 parking spaces.

Trustees Angeles Liera, Mike Costello, Matthew Welsh and Beth Gaenzle voted against the proposal, while Greg Jackson and John Fremdling supported it. (Chair Brian Will abstained.) Trustee Bob Collins, who had indicated he had “no problem” with the project, left the meeting before the vote.

Liera said she thought between nine and 13 units should be offered as affordable housing, not just two.

“If you are seriously thinking that nine affordable-housing units will pencil,” Bourne replied, “you will have the same empty lot sitting there.”

Agreeing with Liera on the dearth of affordable housing, Gaenzle also brought up parking. The project features 23 spots for 34 potential residents and two retail spaces.

“I just don’t see it working,” she said.

“Eads Avenue is already filled with cars. The students from La Jolla High fill it during the day.”

Welsh said he objected to the lack of room, light and elevators for the tenants.

And Costello declared that his vote would be contingent upon Bourne making a written declaration not to allow rentals for less than 30 days on his application, which would prevent a short-term vacation rental “hotel” from ever opening on the premises.

“That is absolutely not going to happen,” Bourne told Costello. “I’m not going to ask you or anyone else in this room to put a restriction on your property.”

Will issued a stern warning to Costello: “I would be very wary of asking an applicant to do something that is not in the land-development manual that is a condition of your consent.”

Will also warned his committee of the consequences of opposing Bourne’s and other similar projects coming down the pike.

“We are so afraid of density and parking, we are going to ensure the steady demise of this community,” he said.

“I would never recommend this project in a quiet, residential area of La Jolla. There’s one road in and out of La Jolla and this project is on it. I think this is absolutely the direction we need to move to keep the Village of La Jolla a livable district.”

About 27 people comprised the audience. Some raised most of the same concerns they did at the preliminary DPR meeting on Nov. 12 (parking, traffic, short-term vacation rentals). This time, however, four La Jolla residents spoke in favor of the project.

DPR’s findings will be forwarded to the La Jolla Community Planning Association, whose next meeting is 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 at the Rec Center, where it is likely to get a review in which DPR’s opinion will be considered.

— La Jolla Development Permit Review committee next meets 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10 at the La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect. St.