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San Diego commission OKs vacation of part of Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla

A proposal to vacate a portion of Torrey Pines Road from city ownership won support from the San Diego Planning Commission.
(Courtesy of city of San Diego)

La Jolla Community Planning Association had already authorized an appeal in anticipation of the Planning Commission’s decision.

The San Diego Planning Commission voted to veto the findings of the La Jolla Community Planning Association and vacate part of Torrey Pines Road from city ownership.

The commission decided unanimously during its Sept. 9 meeting to vacate the portion of Torrey Pines spanning the frontage of 1802 and 1834 Amalfi St., 1821 Torrey Pines Road and 7840 Sierra Mar Drive.

In a street vacation, the city relinquishes a public right of way or public service easement and turns it over to an adjacent property owner or owners. In this case, the 11,889 square feet would be distributed among the four properties. The homeowner at 1802 Amalfi would obtain 1,699 square feet; the owner at 1821 Torrey Pines would get 5,165 square feet; the owner at 1834 Amalfi would receive 2,123 square feet; and the owner at 7840 Sierra Mar would get 2,902 square feet. The proposed area to be vacated is between the sidewalk and the houses along that stretch.

A map shows the area of Torrey Pines Road proposed to be vacated from city ownership.
(Courtesy of city of San Diego)

Anticipating the Planning Commission decision, the Community Planning Association authorized President Diane Kane during its Sept. 2 meeting to write an appeal should the commission vote to support the vacation. In cases when the 10-day appeal period will end before the board’s next meeting, the LJCPA president has the authority to write a letter appealing a decision and then getting the letter ratified at the following meeting.

Project manager Benjamin Hafertepe said the vacation would not result in a physical change to the site, and “the site is not identified for public parking and there are no future plans for any improvements related to transit.”

When the proposal was heard locally, La Jolla planning group trustees and residents raised questions about potential uses for the portion of the street that would be vacated, including a space for buses to pull over or a way to alleviate traffic.

Development Permit Review Committee trustee Mike Costello said last year that “in looking toward the future, something may have to be done on Torrey Pines Road, and since there are right-of-way possibilities on both sides of the street, this could be used for a turnout or turn-in for buses. Releasing this property is not a good idea.”

DPR voted against the vacation in August 2020, and the Community Planning Association ratified the decision the following month without discussion.

Kathleen Neil, representing LJCPA, attended the Planning Commission meeting and said the road was improved under the Torrey Pines Road Corridor Project Phase II in 2018, but subsequent phases of the project are considered to be “in progress.”

Representative of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, which had suggested changes, says the proposal needs more community review.

The corridor project included a new sidewalk on the south side of Torrey Pines Road between Hillside Drive and Amalfi Street; a pedestrian crossing with street lighting on Torrey Pines west of Princess Drive; surface overlay with striping of buffered bike lanes along Torrey Pines between La Jolla Shores Drive and Princess and between Coast Walk and Prospect Place; and a painted asphalt median between Roseland Drive and Hillside.

“The current phase is finished, but there is more work that is proposed,” Neil said. “That, along with the high use of this road, attracted [LJCPA’s] attention to the project. … There is a lot of traffic on that road, so we are continually concerned that we keep that moving, and this was the point of our additional inquiries.”

Resident Adrian McKibbin said he found a report by the city “swayed in a manner to allow this to go through. If you live anywhere near that road, you know it is now ... the most congested area.”

He argued that the easements are there to eventually widen the road and alleviate traffic. “If you have easements in the right of way, you should use them” rather than vacate and turn them over to homeowners, he said.

Traffic engineer Ann Gonsalves countered that the work in the corridor project “precludes any future widening in this location. Any widening that would be possible would be on a spot improvement basis, which wouldn’t benefit the whole corridor.”

Commissioners quickly moved to support the staff recommendation for the vacation. The findings will proceed to the City Council for potential ratification. ◆