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Changes to parking area outside Little Street house draw civil penalty notice

The renovated gravel area fronting a house on Little Street was determined to be in the public right of way.
The renovated gravel area fronting a house on Little Street was determined to be in the public right of way and that the work required permits.
(Courtesy)

City of San Diego finds changes to be in the public right of way and in need of permits.

A civil penalty notice is being filed by the San Diego Development Services Department’s Code Enforcement Division over a remodel of a “public parking” area fronting 1964 Little St. after it was determined the unpermitted changes were within the public right of way.

The area in question is a gravel lot that some say was used as beach parking (Little Street is a few blocks from The Marine Room and its beach access) and now has planters and lights. After residents complained in February that the area was public but redesigned to look private, the city investigated and found the area to be in the public right of way and decided to direct the homeowner to correct several violations.

A space on Little Street in La Jolla that was once used as public parking has been redeveloped and is being used as private homeowner parking, leading to a complaint to the city of San Diego.

The cited violations include removal of a mature pine tree and two jacaranda trees in the public right of way; addition of landscaping without permits; removal and replacement of gravel in the right of way without permits; reduction of street parking and reconfiguration of a public right of way without permits; and enlargement of an existing planter encroaching into the public right of way without a permit.

“The property owner will need to obtain the required permits for the alterations or have them removed,” said city spokesman Anthony Santacroce. “The city will have to inspect and approve to make sure it is once again in compliance. The ... property owner will have a set time to initiate these changes under penalty of fines and legal action.”

When the La Jolla Light reported the complaint in February, homeowner Ron Greenspan said he did not want to comment other than saying “we are in the process of working it out with the city.”

In a subsequent letter to the editor, he called the changes an “improvement” to the area.

“We took a neglected, unattractive area in a city right of way, beautified it to enhance the neighborhood, and some resident from outside the neighborhood registers a complaint without doing the proper due diligence or evaluating the net result in an unbiased fashion,” Greenspan wrote.

He said cones that were placed on the gravel area were “temporarily placed during construction so materials and tools could be unloaded … which is often the case throughout La Jolla where parking is limited” and that a “No parking” sign on the property was there before he bought the site.

When asked to comment on the civil penalty notice, Greenspan said: “We believed we had obtained all the necessary permits when we began our remodel project. We are working with the city to resolve the issue.”

Little Street neighbor Paul Mears, who previously said the homeowner “seemed to abhor the idea of public parking in front of their new home,” called the city’s findings “great news.”

“A great ‘thank you’ to every emphatic member of the community who facilitated rectification of this selfish transgression,” Mears said. “A benevolent society, when vigilant and assertive, helps everyone.” ◆