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La Jolla community planners vote down Paseo del Ocaso home project

A rendering depicts a development proposed for 8405 Paseo del Ocaso in La Jolla Shores.
A rendering presented to the La Jolla Community Planning Association depicts a development proposed for 8405 Paseo del Ocaso in La Jolla Shores.
(Courtesy)

After getting thumbs down from the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee, a home project planned for Paseo del Ocaso — a block from Kellogg Park — also was denied by the La Jolla Community Planning Association during its Oct. 1 meeting online.

The project calls for coastal development and site development permits to demolish a single-family house and build a 4,430-square-foot, two-story single-family house to tie into an existing garage at 8405 Paseo del Ocaso. The garage would be located on the west (ocean-facing) side of the site and have a bedroom and terrace built above it, with the existing garage space converted to a kitchen.

The matter was postponed twice at Permit Review Committee meetings because board members said the city-required notice posted at the site contained out-of-date information. A motion Sept. 21 that findings cannot be made to support the project due to concerns about bulk and scale passed 5-2.

In a presentation to the Community Planning Association, Island Architects project manager Haley Duke said the area consists of “a variety of architecture styles” and one-, two- and three-story forms.

“This home is sensibly designed and not only compatible with the neighborhood, but enhances it,” she said. “The style has a Spanish Colonial influence with American adaptations, which you can see with the porch overhang and some of the minor details of the home. Per the La Jolla Community Plan, there is a view corridor down Camino del Oro toward Kellogg Park. The development is stepped back in order to preserve that existing view and enhance the streetscape.”

Nine houses in a 300-foot radius have a floor area ratio larger than the project would have, Duke said.

However, La Jolla architect Phil Merten, representing the neighbors immediately to the east, said there were four key issues in opposition: insufficient setbacks “not being in general conformity with those in the vicinity”; the size of the building and a FAR larger than the average in the area; the proposed planting of street trees on a view corridor; and lowering the grade to the point that it would “undermine the footings” of a neighboring fence.

Nearby resident Peggy Davis said she was speaking for “several neighbors” in asking that the project be denied. She said the view corridor used by “residents and visitors from around the world” would be impinged by the street trees and that there were possible violations of height limits for the area. She also said the area is subject to flooding and that the grading should be lifted to ensure the project doesn’t contribute to flooding.

During trustee comments, Jim Fitzgerald said it didn’t seem appropriate to compare the size of the project with those around it, especially when they were built in decades past. “The neighborhood is changing, La Jolla is changing and that’s inevitable. I’m just not comfortable with the benchmarks we are using for these projects,” he said.

Trustee Nancy Manno said “it looks like a very nice house, but it looks immense to me. Change is not necessarily good, even if it is inevitable. I don’t see the size of this house as being compatible with the immediate area. And I’m very concerned about the people behind them and the impacts that will be put upon them.”

A motion that findings cannot be made to support the project because it doesn’t conform with setbacks in the vicinity, exceeds the bulk and scale of projects in the area and would place street trees in the view corridor passed 8-5.

Other LJCPA news

Code compliance concerns: Though the board has been working to craft a position on ways to improve the efficiency and efficacy of city code enforcement, LJCPA President Diane Kane suggested it not take any major action until there is a new mayor and District 1 City Council member.

“I would strongly support [changes that increase funding for] code enforcement in the next budget cycle … and giving that unit some resources, because they are sorely underfunded,” Kane said. “There is this myth that code enforcement will take care of projects that go awry, but that is not happening. … And I have no hope that anything will happen between now and January.”

Kane said she would embark on a more comprehensive effort at the start of the new year that would be taken to the Community Planners Committee, which has representation from community planning groups citywide.

However, the board voted at the Oct. 1 meeting to send a letter to the city Development Services Department regarding a perceived lack of enforcement on two La Jolla projects that were constructed in excess of allowable heights.

Capital improvement projects: Each year, the city offers community groups the chance to produce a list of projects for it to carry out. Funding sources include discretionary money that City Council members can allocate to city departments, along with money for specific capital improvement projects.

LJCPA’s list is still “a work in progress,” Kane said, but includes improvements to the Coast Walk, parking reconfiguration around the La Jolla Recreation Center in accord with a planned renovation, stairway improvements at local beach access points and more.

A motion to pass the draft to Steve Hadley, representing the office of Councilwoman Barbara Bry, passed unanimously. The list can be viewed at lajollacpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/CIP-LJCPA.pdf.

The La Jolla Community Planning Association next meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, online. Learn more at lajollacpa.org.