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La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee withdraws approval for Hillside Drive residential project

The La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee rescinded previous approval for a project to demolish an existing dwelling and build a 7,091-square-foot, two-story house at 7595 Hillside Drive.
(Bing Maps / La Jolla Light)

In an “odd” and “atypical” situation, the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee rescinded previous approval for a residential project during its May 18 online meeting.

In February, the board approved a site development permit and coastal development permit to demolish an existing dwelling and build a 7,091-square-foot, two-story house at 7595 Hillside Drive, known as the K-4 residence project. The approval proceeded to the La Jolla Community Planning Association for ratification, but the item was pulled from the consent agenda for a full review. It was not heard in April or May.

La Jollan Phil Merten argued to PRC that there had been significant changes to the design plans since the project was approved. The applicant who originally presented did not attend the meeting.

Among the changes, Merten said, is that the garage had been moved in a manner than creates inadequate parking.

“In the revised design that was submitted, the applicant moved the garage in a northerly direction to increase the distance from the street to provide additional parking spaces,” Merten said. “But these spaces are 19 feet, 9 inches and 16 feet, 3 inches — both shy of the 20-foot requirement. Vehicles parked in those spaces will hang out in the public right of way.”

Hillside Drive is a narrow, hairpin street with no sidewalks.

Additionally, Merten pointed out what he called “substandard side yard setbacks” at 19 inches and 20 inches of the property line.

“I’m not aware of any project anywhere in La Jolla Shores that has setbacks within 19 and 20 inches off the property line,” he said.

He also said a 600-square-foot companion unit had been added below the garage. In previous designs, he said, it was recorded as a “guest room,” but it has a kitchen and bathroom and is detached from the main house. As such, the project would need to be re-reviewed to approve the companion unit, he said.

“More importantly” he said, “this building exceeds the maximum allowed overall structure height. … The overall combined structure height is 41½ feet, where 40 feet is allowed.”

Acting PRC Chairman Andy Fotch said there had been “several phone calls” about the project and its re-review, some of them to the project manager and the city. “I’m hopeful that we will hear back from the city with some direction. But from what I see, it sounds like the project will be mandated to come back our way [for review],” he said.

In the interim, Merten asked that the previous vote to approve the project be rescinded, citing “substantial reason to withdraw that recommendation.”

PRC trustee Janie Emerson said that “because of the issues with the project, I think withdrawing our previous vote is in order, which I have never seen done at PRC.”

“It’s a first, that’s for sure,” said trustee Matt Edwards.

The board voted 4-0 to withdraw the previous motion, with Fotch abstaining, as the chair typically votes only to break a tie.

The board also will ask the applicant to present the proposal again with the most updated plans.

Other PRC news

Katz project approved: With little discussion, the board voted 4-0 to recommend approval for needed permits on the Katz residence project at 2702 Bordeaux Ave. in La Jolla Shores.

The project calls for coastal development and site development permits to remodel a two-story, 3,263-square-foot house and add more than 4,000 square feet for a total of 7,276.

Homeowner Howard Katz, presenting the project himself, said the neighborhood has an architectural committee and that he presented his plans to it and neighbors. He also offered a letter of support from neighbors.

That support seemed to seal the deal for some trustees.

“I applaud you for working with your neighbors,” Emerson said. “We ask everyone to do that; it makes this whole process better for everybody.”

Sinnett project to return: After a preliminary hearing in April and a second review in May, the Sinnett residence project is slated to return a third time.

The project calls for coastal development and site development permits for the addition and remodel to an existing house for a total of 5,881 square feet located at 2365 Via Siena.

Concerns expressed about the project included the proposed street-facing garages and the layout and height of the house.

The board questioned whether additional landscaping could be incorporated to camouflage the garages and had questions about the size of the project as it relates to others in the area.

PRC did not vote and asked the applicant to return later.

Next meeting: PRC’s next meeting will be held via Zoom at 4 p.m. Monday, June 15. Learn more at lajollacpa.org under “2020 agendas.” ◆