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La Jolla community planners OK home project, though some neighbors object

A rendering depicts a home project planned for 7342 Remley Place in La Jolla.
(Courtesy)

Residents turned out en masse for the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s discussion of a home redevelopment project on Remley Place, a short street with only 10 houses on it.

In fact, the 72 participants at the Sept. 3 meeting “broke the record” for the group’s online meetings, trustee Greg Jackson said. Many in the audience left after the issue was discussed.

The board ultimately decided to ratify the findings of its Development Permit Review subcommittee to support Ted and MaryAnn Pintar’s project, which calls for a coastal development permit to demolish a 3,196-square-foot single-family residence and construct a new 4,923-square-foot single-family home at 7342 Remley.

Architect Trip Bennett said that in designing the two-story home over an underground basement, the homeowners gave him two directives: “Develop a design that is consistent with the La Jolla Community Plan and do it in a manner that is sensitive to [neighbors’] private views.”

“It should be noted that we and the Pintars began meeting and reviewing the proposed designs with the Remley Place neighbors two months before we submitted the plans for a CDP and continued after,” Bennett said. “Our philosophy was work with the natural topography so the massing of the structure steps down with the natural slope. The main floor is two feet lower than the existing house.”

However, area residents were still concerned over views and a planned garage. The garage, the second on the property, would have ingress and egress on Romero Drive, which intersects with Remley.

“Romero is a narrow thoroughfare … but cars travel at high speeds on that road,” said Sid Smith, an opponent of the project. “This second garage will set a precedent and open up the possibility of a wall of garages along Romero.”

Smith said he “wanted to welcome the Pintars to the neighborhood” and that “the existing house should be removed and replaced with a new design.”

However, he said he had three concerns: safety as it relates to the second garage feeding onto Romero, maintaining the stability of the hillside, and the scope of the project. The house is “large and doesn’t fit with the neighborhood in many respects,” he said.

He added that residents were not notified about the project until July and weren’t given adequate time to review the reports associated with it.

Neighbor Scott Manoogian said “the neighborhood has spoken and spoken in overwhelming fashion.”

Of the 10 residents of Remley Place, four signed a community letter opposing the project. Another sent an independent letter.

Further out, Manoogian said, “Romero Drive has eight homes within this project’s scope; all eight oppose the current plan because they will have to see this towering structure in their face all the time. The neighborhood is terrified of this garage onto Romero and the inherent safety risk.”

Neighbor Vicki Baron argued that the project’s effect on the view from Romero “doesn’t respect the integrity of the neighborhood and would be obtrusive.”

“If this gets approved … will every house in the area want to maximize square footage by putting garages [facing] Romero? People use this street to walk and hike and suddenly the street will be used as a back alley for Remley,” Baron added. “I think that would be a sad story. It would change the character and the charm of the street.”

Representing the applicants, attorney Matt Peterson said the plans underwent a geotechnical and parking impact review that determined the project would not produce further negative impacts. “The project complies with all city standards; there are no variances or deviations [from city code],” he said.

Speaking to the concern about speeding traffic, he said: “There are no complaints that are on file with the San Diego Police Department traffic department. No neighbors have filed a complaint or asked for speed limit signs or police to patrol the area. Now all of a sudden there is a big concern for traffic safety. My clients went to the expense of hiring traffic engineer Dan Valdez with Coffey Engineering, who did a site survey and has certified it is safe [to have the garage facing Romero Drive].”

Others spoke in favor of the project and the Pintars. Many talked about the “exhaustive” effort they underwent to make sure the house complies with local code.

Land survey engineer Mike Pallamary was consulted and said the plans are “well-prepared and amply demonstrate that the property is in compliance. … This is a good project, the height is being honored and I make that statement as a licensed engineer.”

After minimal trustee comment, a motion to support the project passed 13-2, with two abstentions. Kathleen Neil, one of those who voted against the project, did so without comment. The other, Dave Little, argued that it is not line with local building code and that he “simply can’t vote for a project that violates the code.”

After the vote, LJCPA President Diane Kane said: “I want to welcome the Pintars to La Jolla. I know it has been a rocky road, but you will have a lovely home.”

Other LJCPA news

Project list compilation: Steve Hadley, representing the office of San Diego City Council member Barbara Bry, said she is accepting suggestions for the capital improvement projects list for fiscal 2021-22, for which the budget process starts in January.

“This is not an easy wish list. This is for projects that cost millions of dollars and years to execute,” Hadley said, citing the Scripps Park Pavilion project as a recent example.

The La Jolla Community Planning Association next meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1, online. Learn more at lajollacpa.org. ◆