Shores group weighing in on state housing bill; seeks cleanup of median at La Jolla Parkway

The median separating Azure Coast Drive (left) from La Jolla Parkway is full of weeds and bare patches.
(Richard Dahlberg)

The La Jolla Shores Association’s executive officers are expected to draft a letter May 18 weighing in on California Senate Bill 9, which aims to streamline the process to build a duplex or subdivide an existing lot. Whether the letter will support or oppose the bill was uncertain May 17, the end of a five-day review period authorized by the group’s board last week.

But LJSA President Janie Emerson said that thus far, all but one board member who gave feedback favored writing a letter opposing SB 9.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Toni Atkins — whose 39th District includes La Jolla — would allow proposed housing developments with two or fewer units in a residential zone to be approved by local governments without discretionary review.

Emerson said the bill would “eliminate all planning, all [planned district ordinances, or PDOs] and all authority on the local level.”

Though the bill isn’t clear on how many times a lot can be subdivided, and whether accessory dwelling units can be added to increase the number of subdivisions, LJSA secretary Charlie Brown said “anything more than one, I don’t like it.”

“The big issue here isn’t whether it’s two, four, eight, 10, 100” subdivisions, Emerson said. “The big issue here is this is yet another attempt by the state to override the local communities, policing their own development and planning and complying with their own PDOs. Because we all know that nobody’s building affordable housing on multimillion-dollar lots in The Shores.”

LJSA treasurer John Shannon said “having sat on the [Community Planners Committee], I found out … almost all communities are extremely concerned about the loss of local control and the … doing away with community groups.”

“What I’ve seen working real estate is the cities don’t know what the effect of these bills are,” Shannon added. “You can have so many units right now on your parcel that the city can’t keep up with it. … I see it as a real big problem. I see it as more destroying of communities than keeping or promoting community fabric.”

LJSA board member Phil Wise said: “This should be rejected for one simple reason: The state seems to be forgetting that there are all these empty office buildings ... that could easily be converted into residential units. Before they even think of downzoning single-residence properties, they should look at the office buildings to upzone those in the residential” areas.

A motion was passed May 12 for the executive officers to decide whether to write a letter conveying the board’s opinion on SB 9 after the review period, during which board members could research the bill and communicate their feedback to the officers.

Two board members opposed the motion, with Rick Kent saying, “I’ve heard a lot of information that is just hearsay. We’re getting asked to represent the La Jolla Shores community … and we don’t actually have a representative from either Sen. Atkins’ office or a group that supports it.”

Board member Dede Donovan also voted no, saying, “I’d rather have all of us vote than send it to the executives.”

The bill will be heard in the state Senate and Assembly before Sept. 10.

Atkins said in a statement to the La Jolla Light that SB 9 “provides options for homeowners to create intergenerational wealth and provides access to more rental and ownership options for families who would otherwise be priced out of neighborhoods. … It also has specifications built into it that protect our neighborhoods from profiteers, protect local control and exclude historic districts and environmentally sensitive areas.”

“Because of all the variables that make a neighborhood what it is — size of lots, local ordinances, desire of homeowners to even use this option — not everyone will choose to turn their home into a duplex,” Atkins said. “This is simply a way to help provide options for homeowners and increase access for more families to have a beautiful place to call home.”

Median cleanup

LJSA approved sending a letter to San Diego city officials asking for the cleanup of a median separating Azure Coast Drive from La Jolla Parkway.

Richard Dahlberg, representing the homeowners association of the Azure Coast development, said the median is “not very attractive,” with weeds and bare patches.

He asked the board to write a letter asking for the median to be cleaned of weeds and old tree stumps and replanted with oleander bushes or drought-resistant plants for “visual effect and noise reduction.”

Dahlberg also requested that the city provide the water for the first year and trim the plants in the median.

Steve Hadley, representing City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said Dahlberg has a meeting scheduled with LaCava on June 10 to discuss the issue.

The board approved the letter with no opposition. ◆