La Jolla development permitters hear projects for Barber Tract, Country Club and The Village

A project calls for converting a room over a detached garage into a companion unit at 416 Nautilus St.
A project calls for converting a 263-square-foot room over a 449-square-foot detached garage into a companion unit at 416 Nautilus St.

When it came to deciding the fate of a companion unit in the Barber Tract, the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee heard — among other things — a debate on the meaning of the word “and.”

The project calls for a coastal development permit to convert a 263-square-foot room over a 449-square-foot detached garage into a companion unit at 416 Nautilus St. The garage is being built anew and with a new footprint that applicant Claude-Anthony Marengo said better meets parking requirements for the area. The development would encroach into both the side and rear setbacks.

A city of San Diego informational bulletin this month about accessory dwelling units (another name for companion units) states that “the ADU may encroach into the side and rear setbacks of the zone, including up to the property line.”

However, whether the “and” means a development can encroach into both setbacks at the same time or either the side setback or the rear was up for interpretation. At a previous hearing Nov. 10, neighbor Steven Wright said, “You can encroach on one of the setbacks, but not both.”

Attempting to clear up the confusion, DPR Chairman Brian Will said during the Dec. 8 meeting that “there is a long-standing archetype for accessory structures in San Diego, and it’s the carriage houses that communities like North Park, South Park, Hillcrest are chock full of. … If you visit any of those structures, they are on both side yard and rear yard setbacks simultaneously. It has been clearly the practice at the city that they allow simultaneous encroachments into both setbacks, and I think that policy is perfectly clear in practice, even if it is not so in the code.”

The La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee dedicated more than an hour and a half of its Nov. 17 meeting to a discussion of building heights, spurred by a recent development project that put focus on just how confusing the current code can be to some.

Local architect and consultant Phil Merten argued against the project, questioning whether the garage structure on which the companion unit would be built is in violation of the code in terms of its setbacks. There also were concerns with the parking and whether sufficient space would be left for cars.

However, a motion that findings can be made to support the project passed 5-2, with trustees Angeles Liera and Mike Costello dissenting without comment.

Other DPR news

Coast Boulevard remodel approved: Plans to renovate a residential development at 220-240 Coast Blvd. in The Village were approved unanimously. The three-story development would be remodeled on the exterior, including replacing the windows, adding new balconies, reconstructing the roofs and adding new fencing.

A rendering depicts renovations planned at 220-240 Coast Blvd.

“We are keeping the shape and configuration of the buildings; we are just updating them,” applicant representative Paul Benton said. “There are a couple of balconies being added to the beach side, which are entirely supported by the existing structure.”

Costello thanked Benton for “keeping the building intact” and preserving the view corridor.

“This is an example of what we like to see on the coastline,” Costello said.

Country Club companion unit denied: A proposed companion unit on Crespo Drive in the Country Club area was denied unanimously. Plans call for a new detached 893-square-foot unit at 1644 Crespo that is meant to mimic the main house.

Though Will said the design is “lovely” and “like a cabin in the mountains,” other trustees had concerns about construction impacts.

Trustee Diane Kane said two houses were built in the vicinity in the past year or so and cranes were brought in during construction. During that time, the street was effectively closed. She asked whether the companion unit could be built offsite and then brought in to reduce the impact, since the site is “difficult for access” and projects can “leave a mess for the neighborhood.”

Applicant representative Audrey Ruland could only offer “possibly” as an answer. Because she is not the contractor, she couldn’t say anything more committal, she said.

Further, Ruland said, no additional parking would be associated with the project, as the city does not require it.

The DPR board determined that findings cannot be made to support the project.

The additional unit “should have [additional] parking, even though it is not technically required,” trustee Greg Jackson said, and the board was “not convinced construction would be feasible without disrupting the neighborhood unduly.”

Ruland said she would consider a return visit to DPR. If not, the project will proceed to the La Jolla Community Planning Association for additional review or to have the DPR findings ratified.

Barber Tract companion unit: Marengo presented for preliminary review — and therefore not subject to a vote — a companion unit project in the Barber Tract area.

Plans call for a coastal development permit for a proposed 760-square-foot companion unit with deck over an existing detached garage on a site with an existing single-story duplex at 6657-6663 Tyrian St.

Marengo will return at a future meeting for a vote.

Next meeting: The Development Permit Review Committee meets the second and third Tuesdays of each month. The next meeting is at 4 p.m. Dec. 15 online. Learn more at ◆