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San Diego Planning Commission clears way for sale of city property across from La Jolla High

The San Diego Planning Commission voted to vacate this parcel on the southeast corner of West Muirlands Drive and Fay Avenue.
The San Diego Planning Commission voted to vacate this 0.42-acre parcel on the southeast corner of West Muirlands Drive and Fay Avenue, making it available for sale.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The San Diego Planning Commission voted to vacate from the city’s inventory a small piece of land across from La Jolla High School, meaning the city can sell the property. The proposal was voted down by La Jolla’s planning groups in 2018 but unanimously approved by commissioners during their Jan. 28 meeting online.

The 0.42-acre site spans two lots at the southeast corner of West Muirlands Drive and Fay Avenue.

Catherine Rom, a San Diego Development Services Department project manager, said the city acquired the lots for public street purposes in the late 1960s. “Fay Avenue has since been constructed to its ultimate width, consistent with the La Jolla Community Plan,” she said.

In 2018, when the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee heard the issue, city real estate asset manager Mary Carlson said part of the reason San Diego wants to vacate the property is that it houses a run-down, vacant duplex and “right now there are no funds to renovate it.”

Several planning commissioners asked whether the space could be used as a small park, but Rom said the parcel was offered to the Parks & Recreation Department and “it was not anything that or the other departments were interested in acquiring for development.”

Parks & Recreation determined “it would be difficult to manage because of the slope and because [disabled] access would be difficult because of the slope and small size,” Carlson said.

Concerns were raised about access for one nearby resident who uses part of the property to reach the resident’s garage from Fay Avenue. However, there is another access point from West Muirlands Drive, and city representatives said they would work with the resident to ensure access.

Planning Commission Vice Chairman James Whalen asked whether the property would be offered to an affordable-home developer, “or is it just going to be listed on the open market?”

Carlson said the city would notify all the required entities of the land availability, including affordable-housing builders. “They have 60 days to get back to the city with their interest in the property,” she said. “If we see interest from these agencies, we are required to negotiate with them for 90 days.”

A motion to support the public right-of-way vacation passed unanimously.

In 2018, the DPR Committee voted down the proposal to vacate the parcel. The matter proceeded to the La Jolla Community Planning Association, which approved the down vote without discussion.

At the time, DPR members argued that the property could be used for things such as a small parking lot or overflow parking for La Jolla High School students. ◆