La Jolla planners OK condo project for Herschel Ave.

Architect Richard Gombes describes the four-unit condominium project he plans to build on a current parking lot at 7600 Herschel Ave. during the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s Feb. 6 meeting at the Rec Center.
Architect Richard Gombes describes the four-unit condominium project he plans to build on a current parking lot at 7600 Herschel Ave. during the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s Feb. 6 meeting at the Rec Center.
(Claudia Baranowski

After garnering a 3-1-1 approval vote from the La Jolla Development Permit Review (DPR) sub-committee in January, architect Richard Gombes’ proposed condominium project at 7600 Herschel Ave. was also approved 9-5-1 at the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s (LJCPA) Feb. 6 meeting at the Rec Center.

Although LJCPA trustees could have approved the project without discussion, they decided to pull the proposal from the consent agenda to allow for full debate and public comment.

Plans for the 14,817-square-foot building include four condominiums, underground parking, center courtyard and penthouses for stairwell access to a rooftop deck. The project will replace a 22-space parking lot on the current site while the adjacent parking lot, also containing 22 spaces, remains intact.

During public comment, Chris Popov, partner with Lynda Cristel, owner of the cottage next door at 7746 Herschel, stated: “The California Coastal Act designated La Jolla as a community of special interest and that basically set the tone for the La Jolla Community Plan, which is why you are all here. And the mandate in the Community Plan, when you are looking at projects like this, is ‘preserve existing streetscape themes and allow a harmonious visual relationship to exist between the bulk and scale of new and older structures.’

“I’m all for bringing residential to Herschel, but what I am not in favor of is losing The Village atmosphere to something that is larger and blocks out the air and light around each of the buildings.”

Popov suggested setting back the building about one and a half feet to create space between buildings as well as saving 10 trees. He also questioned if the penthouses turned the structure into a three-story building. Others in attendance expressed concerns about parking and crowding and felt that the project seemed out of proportion to nearby low-profile properties.

Trustee Brian Will noted the question of the penthouses was raised during two reviews at DPR, which he chairs. He reported that the definition of a penthouse under municipal code refers to “the structure on the roof of a building that supports stairs or mechanical equipment. In the rules for calculation and measurement, penthouses don’t count as a story, provided they don’t exceed 10 percent of the floor area of the building. At least during DPR, it was presented that these stair towers, which provide access to the roof and nothing else, did not exceed those limitations and are not living spaces.”

After trustees discussed whether the project should be reviewed by the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance (PDO) committee, a motion to direct the applicant to submit the project to the PDO and report back to LJCPA did not pass (5-8-2).

UCSD Community Group

Anu Delouri, assistant director of UC San Diego Community Planning, provided updates on Future College Living & Learning Neighborhood (FCLLN), I-5 Switch Station, and Nuevo West Graduate Student Housing projects. Implementation of these projects is consistent with the UCSD Long Range Development Plan certified in November 2018. Details can be found at

Delouri announced that about 150 people attended a community open house on Jan. 22 for FCLLN. The project, located south of Revelle College and adjacent to the UCSD Theatre District, will provide residential housing for 2,000 undergraduate students, classrooms, 1,200 underground parking spaces, and conference, retail and restaurant space. She reminded the audience that: “By building these living and learning neighborhoods, what we are really looking to do is to enhance campus life for our students. If there were no students, there would be no UC San Diego.”

Further, Delouri noted that the University has an obligation to the State of California, and “as stewards of the land, we have a duty to maximize the resources in a sensitive manner. The buildings planned for this existing parking lot site have been designed in a careful and sensitive manner, such that the taller 16- and 21-story buildings are located inward to the east of the project site, and the buildings along the campus edge are in harmony with the aesthetic character and in keeping with the (current) building heights along the campus edge.”

Construction on the 10.9-acre site is scheduled to begin in the fall and be completed in three years.

After hearing the project also includes 9-, 10- and 11-story buildings along North Torrey Pines Road, Trustee Diane Kane asked how the campus plan is jelling or jiving with the 30-foot height limit in coastal zone.

Delouri responded that the height limit is a City of San Diego regulation and not enforced by the California Coastal Commission.

Kane noted: “We could have greater community comfort if you could bring in some drawings that would detail to us what that (the proposed buildings) is going to do to the neighborhood across the street.”

When chair Toni Crisafi asked whether a presentation could be made to LJCPA, Delouri responded: “We can consider doing a presentation, by all means, I would never deny a presentation,” and then she suggested trustees get an understanding of the project by reviewing the presentation from the community open house that explains the rationale for the project, renderings and videos on the website —

Referencing a recent letter to the La Jolla Light from the president of the La Jolla Shores Association suggesting UCSD gather sufficient community input concerning parking, traffic, excessive building height and overall density in the Living & Learning Neighborhood, Delouri requested that the community attend meetings to interact with reps and voice concerns while getting a glimpse of the campus.

“I come to these (community planning group) meetings every month,” she told those gathered. “We have engaged a community advisory group, and we are trying to do our best in terms of community collaboration and transparency.” Delouri further stated she made an initial announcement to the group concerning this project in April 2019, simultaneously working with the community advisory group on the long-range development plan.

In other Planning Association news ...

Municipal Code Update: Trustees agreed to pull the Municipal Code update from the consent agenda allowing trustee Kane to advise DPR did not get feedback from La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC) concerning code changes. LJCPA approved 13-0-1 to endorse DPR recommendation on Municipal Code updates identifying deficiencies in land-development regulations that do not serve the La Jolla community, and to send these updates to La Jolla Shores PRC for action at their next meeting.

SDG&E Franchise Agreement: Senior Public Affairs Manager Vanessa Mapula Garcia gave an overview of SDG&E’s current franchise agreement with the City of San Diego, which expires in January 2021.

Annual Election: Trustee Nancy Manno announced there are nine candidates vying for seven open LJCPA seats at the March 5 election. They are Patrick Ahern, Helen Boyden, Larry Davidson, John Fremdling, Dave Gordon, Greg Jackson, Bob Steck, Ray Weiss and Suzanne Weissman. Candidates’ statements are posted on LJCPA website and will be published in the La Jolla Light prior to the election.

— La Jolla Community Planning Association next meets 6 p.m. Thursday, March 5, with the annual election occurring 3 -7 p.m. at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. Members who have attended at least one LJCPA meeting between March 2019 and February 2020 are eligible to vote and must present a photo ID in order to cast a ballot.