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Community planners approve La Jolla Mesa development and recommendations for ‘tiny houses’

A property at 5911 La Jolla Mesa Drive is under construction. The La Jolla Community Planning Association approved the addition of a 1,175-square-foot master suite and a 907-square-foot cabana.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

A controversial project to add to a home on La Jolla Mesa Drive won approval from the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

After more than an hour of deliberation, the association voted May 7 to OK the project, which calls for a coastal development permit and site development permit to build a 1,175-square-foot master suite and a 907-square-foot cabana on an existing 4,135-square-foot, one-story single-family residence at 5911 La Jolla Mesa.

Earlier hearings at the LJCPA Development Permit Review committee featured debate as to whether the project would encroach into environmentally sensitive land and open space. After its initial review in August and several reviews since, DPR narrowly approved the project in April.

Attorney Matt Peterson, representing the applicant, said: “In the La Jolla Community Plan, there are maps that show these canyon areas, and the [plan] calls them private open space and other types of open space. It is the neighbors’ position that anything shown in that open space map should not be developed.” However, he pointed out several houses in the area that have features such as tennis courts in the open space.

Peterson said the city’s opinion is that the open space designation applicable to that area does not prohibit development.

Attorney Julie Hamilton, representing opponents of the project, argued that it’s about more than just development.

“This has a tremendous impact on La Jolla … it is going to dramatically change the character of La Jolla,” she said. “It’s a significant part of La Jolla to have these homes on these canyons but still have these vast areas of open space in between. If you accept this definition as where the open space is, every house on a canyon is going to build out to the very edge of the canyon.”

LJCPA trustee Dave Little agreed, saying: “The canyons have always been a source of pride that they weren’t developed in La Jolla. … We should have something in the community plan that reads ‘We are not going to develop in these canyons.’ ... This is a great example of how development creeps into the canyons, and it should be stopped now.”

The board, however, voted 9-6 in favor of the project, with Chairwoman Diane Kane abstaining, as chairs typically vote only to break a tie.

Other LJCPA news

Tiny houses: In light of a municipal code amendment on “movable tiny houses” expected to go before the San Diego City Council this month, LJCPA voted unanimously to approve a subcommittee’s list of recommendations to submit to City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry to assist her in council deliberations.

The proposed amendment would allow small dwelling units on wheels to fall under the state definition of an accessory dwelling unit. ADUs are allowed in San Diego.

A proposed San Diego municipal code amendment that would allow “movable tiny houses” to fall under the state definition of an accessory dwelling unit has some La Jollans concerned as it works its way up the civic chain.

According to a city report, a movable tiny house is an accessory structure between 150 and 430 square feet that can provide living facilities on a residential lot for one or more people, “independent of the primary dwelling unit, which includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.”

Some have expressed concerns over safety issues with movable tiny houses and how the structures would affect La Jolla’s community character.

Kane said LJCPA assembled a small committee to look at the various aspects of the amendment and compiled a list of concerns and recommendations to submit to Bry.

The list was broken into three categories: conditions to mitigate physical impacts to the single-family residence zone, conditions to direct increased housing supply to targeted affordable housing populations, and conditions to address safety hazards.

Among the many recommendations are that movable tiny homes be allowed only on lots where their addition would not exceed the site’s maximum floor area ratio; require conditional use permits renewed annually based on long-term affordable occupancy and residential use; and tighten or add standards to address fire risk.

View the whole list at lajollacpa.org under “May 7" and “materials.”

UCSD Future College: Representing UC San Diego, assistant director of community planning Anu Delouri said a presentation is planned to discuss the university’s Future College Living & Learning Neighborhood at the June LJCPA meeting.

FCLLN is a proposed expansion intended to house 2,000 students in five buildings ranging from nine to 21 stories tall. The buildings also are to include a conference center, hotel rooms, classroom space, a market and a restaurant. FCLLN also would feature 1,200 parking spaces underground.

It has been hotly contested by groups such as the La Jolla Shores Association.

La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) voted to seek legal counsel on whether to pursue a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) suit filed against UC San Diego during its March 11, 2020 meeting at Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Martin Johnson House. The suit would aim to reduce, delay or halt construction of UCSD’s Future College Living & Learning Neighborhood, which is expected to break ground near La Jolla Village Drive and North Torrey Pines Road in September.

An information page on the project is available online at plandesignbuild.ucsd.edu/projects/current.html#Future-College-Living-and-Learn.

Next meeting: LJCPA next meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 4. Unless otherwise announced, the meeting will be held online via Zoom. Details will be posted as they become available at lajollacpa.org.