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Development permit reviewers approve bluffside Bird Rock residence

A rendering depicts the Salvagio residence project at 411 Sea Ridge Road in Bird Rock.
(Courtesy)

A project to demolish and replace a house on the south side of Bird Rock won narrow approval from the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee at its May 12 online meeting.

The bluff-facing Salvagio residence project calls for coastal development and site development permits to demolish the existing house and build a new two-story, 5,067-square-foot residence, including a garage, a carport, decks and balconies at 411 Sea Ridge Road.

At issue were the roof decks, which the committee historically opposes because “they rarely get used but they compromise neighbors’ privacy,” according to Chairman Brian Will. Other issues were orientation of the driveway and carport and geological safety due to the house’s proximity to the bluff.

Representing the applicants, architects Kevin Leon and Mark Lyon said the planned roof decks and balconies were reduced by 150 square feet to give neighbors more privacy. The designs include a front balcony overlooking the carport and a rear balcony overlooking the beach, totaling 808 square feet.

However, the roof decks and balconies still posed a problem.

Of the front balcony, DPR trustee Beth Gaenzle asked, “What is the point of that?”

Leon said it was for the family to have an outdoor space if it is too windy at the beach.

“If I lived in that house, I wouldn’t be looking at the street,” Gaenzle said. “It seems odd to me.”

For DPR trustee Mike Costello, the rate of bluff erosion and the development’s geological safety were of bigger concern.

He showed images from 2003 to now, demonstrating how the cliff has eroded.

“The measurements [the applicants are using] has the bluff recession rate of seven feet per decade, and I know I have seen more than that,” Costello said. “[A previous property owner] had a backyard in the 1990s and that backyard is gone. … This is a serious problem.”

Neighbor Lynn Reineman echoed Costello’s concerns and said that while she is “very grateful” that the applicants plan to build the house in the existing footprint, she recommended it be moved farther from the bluff’s edge.

Lyon said he hired geotechnical firm GEI Consultants to draft a report, which indicates the project can proceed safely.

“The bluff is going to recede because the city and the [California] Coastal Commission [prefer that]; they want the bluffs to retreat naturally,” Lyon said. “If we are to preserve the bluff and keep them in perpetuity, we would have to build something on the outside of the bluff, and that cannot happen.”

The committee voted 3-3 that findings could be made for the necessary permits, leaving Will to break the tie.

“I would really like to see you reconsider the carport, but I am going to vote in favor of this,” Will said, making the final vote 4-3.

The recommendation will proceed to the La Jolla Community Planning Association for ratification.

Other DPR news

Caraher residence project: After a favorable review in April, another residential project also got the green light.

The Caraher residence calls for a coastal development permit for a new 7,166-square-foot, two-story single-family residence with a basement, an attached three-car garage and new retaining walls at 1136 Muirlands Drive.

Tim Martin, representing the applicants, addressed issues presented at the preliminary review, specifically a landscape plan, materials board and panoramic photos indicating surrounding drainage options.

Speaking to a concern that a cluster of tall trees would be removed, landscape architect David Reed said “the intention was to replace as much landscape as we could. … There is ground cover and vines to cover the retaining wall as quickly as possible. There will be small shrubs and perennials onsite as well.”

With few questions and little deliberation, the committee voted 6-0 to approve the project, with Will abstaining as there was no tie to break.

Kolmar residence: Another project up for discussion — but not a vote — was a residence on Kolmar Street in Windansea, which was met with concerns from neighbors.

The project requires a coastal development permit to demolish a single dwelling and build a pair of two-story units at 304-306 Kolmar. Each unit would be just over 2,200 square feet.

DPR asked architect Tim Golba to return at a future meeting.

Bellava project: The Bellava project in The Village also was heard in a preliminary review and therefore not guaranteed a vote. It calls for site development and coastal development permits to demolish a single-family residence, subdivide the lot into two single lots and build a new 3,615-square-foot residence on the south lot and a new 3,470-square-foot home on the north lot at 7306 Draper Ave.

The presentation will continue at a future meeting.

The Development Permit Review Committee meets the second and third Tuesdays of each month. Learn more at lajollacpa.org. ◆