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Community Planning Association appeal over Park Row project is called into question

The La Jolla Community Planning Association discussed a questioned appeal during its Sept. 2 meeting online.
The La Jolla Community Planning Association discussed a questioned appeal during its Sept. 2 meeting online.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Though it’s common for the La Jolla Community Planning Association to appeal a decision when the city of San Diego’s findings conflict with its own, it is uncommon for an applicant whose project was appealed to come forward and defend it.

But such was the case during LJCPA’s Sept. 2 meeting online. At issue was a home project on Park Row that the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee voted down in January. The committee said certain measurements needed to be certified, a gate encroaching into the public right of way needed to be corrected and a planned accessory dwelling unit needed to be properly noticed. It also determined that the gate design was inconsistent with the design of surrounding gates.

Soon after, LJCPA ratified the findings on its consent agenda without discussion.

In July, the city announced it had approved the project despite the recommendation from the local representatives.

Following what city Senior Planner Marlon Pangilinan called LJCPA’s “almost automatic” policy of filing an appeal when the city and LJCPA have contrary findings, association President Diane Kane sent a letter outlining the group’s reasons for opposing the project.

But the timing of the letter proved problematic.

Project applicant Scott Kivel said a notice of decision was issued July 30 that was “the culmination of two years of working with the city.” At LJCPA’s Aug. 5 meeting, there was no discussion of the project or whether to appeal. “However, on Aug. 12, an appeal was filed,” Kivel said.

Pangilinan said the group had the option to file an appeal without discussion and then give retroactive approval.

If the 10-day appeal period provided by the city ends before the board’s next monthly meeting, “the chair can file the appeal and let the trustees and the applicant know and ratify it after … in a meeting,” Pangilinan said.

On Sept. 2, after a lengthy discussion about the merits of the project, why DPR objected to it and whether LJCPA took the correct course of action, the board voted 9-4 to ratify the appeal.

Kivel argued that the appeal had been filed without board discussion even though there was time to discuss it. He said he had filed his grievance with the San Diego city attorney and other city offices.

In explaining why the appeal was not listed on LJCPA’s Aug. 5 agenda though the notice of decision had been issued July 30, trustee Greg Jackson said the board “tried to get the agenda out as soon as possible” and that the agenda was going out as the documents were being released.

“If [the documents] had gone out a day or two earlier, it would have been on the agenda,” Jackson said. He acknowledged that it was “theoretically possible to have been on the agenda, given the timing.”

Defending the board’s action, Kane said, “We would like to preserve our ability to appeal projects where the city has contrary decisions and we’re getting tied up in calendars.” ◆