La Jolla Shores review committee votes down home project near park

Applicants proposed to build a 3,994-square-foot, two-story house with a new attached companion unit on this property.
Applicants proposed to build a 3,994-square-foot, two-story single-family residence with a new attached 1,102-square-foot companion unit on this property at 8423 El Paseo Grande.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Citing excessive bulk and scale, the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee voted down a residential project proposed for a property near Kellogg Park during its online meeting July 20.

The applicants sought approval for a coastal development permit and site development permit to demolish a 1,528-square-foot single-family residence and build a 3,994-square-foot, two-story single-family residence with a new attached 1,102-square-foot companion unit at 8423 El Paseo Grande.

Nick Wilson with Island Architects said the block and neighborhood development consists of newer and older houses ranging from 1,500 to 8,000 square feet. The proposed house would be a four-bedroom American shingle-style revival home, including second-story setbacks.

Attorney Matt Peterson, assisting in the presentation, emphasized the diverse styles and sizes in the neighborhood “within a one-minute walk” of the property.

Island Architects principal Tony Crisafi said the applicants met with neighbors and that changes were made to the design based on their feedback.

However, during public comment at the committee meeting, La Jolla resident and architect Phil Merten said the setbacks and size of the property were inconsistent with those in the vicinity and that the property was the “face of the residential community to the public” due to its proximity to Kellogg Park.

A small group of neighbors spoke out against the size of the development, with more than one saying the project would be a “solid wall” against or near their houses.

There is no maximum floor area ratio for The Shores, but it is used as a metric for measuring bulk and scale when it comes to nearby houses. Committee trustee Myrna Neagel said the FAR of that area of The Shores is 0.55. The FAR of the proposed project is 0.96.

Trustee Dan Courtney said he agreed with the neighbors’ concern about bulk and scale. “We’ve been seeing these projects get bigger and bigger in La Jolla Shores; we see the average FAR creep up and up,” he said. “It looks like a beautiful project, but it’s just too big.”

A motion that findings cannot be made to support the permits, based on the bulk and scale, passed unanimously.

Other PRC news

Two projects coming back: A couple of other projects slated for review — one at 8405 Paseo del Ocaso and the other at 8455 El Paseo Grande — were asked to return to a future meeting.

Regarding the former, La Jolla resident Peggy Davis said the project should not have been heard because of insufficient noticing. She said the wrong address was listed on one notification and that the bright green notice that needs to be posted onsite was not visible in the days leading to the meeting. Some theorized the notice fell from the post to which it was affixed. The applicants agreed to a postponement.

Regarding the latter project, there were questions about the level and type of articulation. The designs call for the second level to cantilever over on one side, whereas recommendations in local design guidelines suggest that second levels step back. There were additional concerns with the size as it relates to neighboring houses, but the applicants did not have FAR information for surrounding properties and were asked to return with that.

Election results: The committee’s July meeting served as the election of officers. By a vote of 6-1, Andy Fotsch will continue as chairman.

Courtney dissented, saying his opposition was because Fotsch is chairman of the La Jolla Shores PRC and his business partner Brian Will is chairman of the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee, which reviews development in areas of La Jolla outside The Shores.

Courtney said it is a position he has held for years.

“I don’t think two people from the same firm should lead [the committees]. I don’t want you to step down or not be chair, I just want to be consistent,” he said.

Janie Emerson was voted vice chairwoman. Angie Preisendorfer was elected secretary.

The La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee next meets at 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17, online. Learn more at