La Jolla Woods home project gets ‘no’ vote from Shores permit reviewers due to size concerns

A rendering depicts a planned condominium development at 8216 Caminito Maritimo (center).
A rendering depicts a planned condominium development at 8216 Caminito Maritimo (center).

A home project whose size “shocked” a La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee member was denied at the board’s Oct. 19 meeting due to concerns about bulk, scale, height and lot coverage.

The planned development at 8216 Caminito Maritimo in the La Jolla Woods area calls for site development and neighborhood development permits to reconstruct a 4,772-square-foot condominium and add 4,425 square feet, a new terrace and a pool. The project includes landscaping a common area that was granted to the applicant by the homeowners association for the area.

The project was first considered in 2009, when the PRC approved it. The HOA followed in 2010 and then the city in 2011. But work was delayed by the owner’s health issues and the permits expired, according to applicant representative Roger Sammon of Island Architects.

“The owner now is requesting approval for the same project as before, with some minor adjustments to the exterior,” Sammon said. “On the main and upper levels, there have been some additions on the west side that are not visible from the street. The majority of the addition from the previous plan is all in the basement, so it is hidden and doesn’t increase the scale of the project.”

He said the view from the common area would not change and that setbacks and stepbacks were designed to preserve neighboring views.

While there is no maximum floor area ratio (a building’s total floor area relative to the size of the lot) in The Shores, it is used as a metric for measuring bulk and scale. The project’s FAR is 0.90, which trustee Dan Courtney said is a “big factor and the most critical issue” and said he found it “hard to believe” it would fit into the neighborhood at such a high FAR.

Trustee Janie Emerson voiced concerns about the FAR and the height. “For me, those are deal-breakers,” she said. “I’m shocked the HOA is allowing this.”

Though the architect’s plan lists the overall height at 29 feet, La Jolla architect Phil Merten, speaking on behalf of project opponents, argued that it should be measured from the lowest grade level to the highest point, which he calculated at 58 feet. He said 40 feet is allowed for that area.

“This is no small issue,” Merten said. “Right now, the city has stopped construction on another project in The Shores … for exceeding the height limit.”

A city investigation is underway of a property in La Jolla’s Country Club area where construction was reported to be above the allowable height for the area.

Sept. 21, 2020

The architects noted the plans were already approved by the city at the proposed heights.

After a lengthy discussion, the committee offered to have the applicants return with changes at a future meeting. The applicants opted for a vote. A motion that findings cannot be made to support the project passed 7-0.

The project now proceeds to the La Jolla Community Planning Association for ratification of the committee vote or additional review. From there, it would proceed to the city and the Planning Commission.

“At the end of the day, we are an advisory. If an applicant takes a nonconforming project and presents it to the Planning Commission and gets approved there, they are good to go,” PRC Chairman Andy Fotsch said. “Some applicants have been OK taking ‘no’ votes ... because it moves the process along at a more rapid pace, because they know the ultimate end.”

The PRC next meets (pending items to review) at 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16, online. Learn more at ◆