DPR Committee votes against proposed Lower Hermosa house; approves Village companion unit

A rendering shows a proposed Avenida Cresta home development (center) in relation to the houses around it.
A rendering presented to the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee shows a proposed Avenida Cresta home development (center) in relation to the houses around it.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

A home project planned for “one of the great streets of La Jolla” in the Lower Hermosa neighborhood was voted down by La Jolla’s Development Permit Review Committee last week, citing concerns about how it would fit in with existing houses.

The project requires a coastal development permit to demolish a residence and a portion of the garage to build a new two-story single-family home with an attached garage, a balcony and a patio for a total of 7,497 square feet at 6208 Avenida Cresta.

Opponents of the project said it does not conform with local building regulations in terms of height and extensions into the front yard setback and is visually inconsistent with surrounding houses.

La Jollan Phil Merten, who spoke against the plan during the Nov. 9 DPR meeting, said that “from a code standpoint, we have an increase to the height of a non-conforming structure and we have extensions into the front yard setback that I think are clearly not allowed.”

He added that the La Jolla Community Plan “talks about community character and maintaining and enhancing community character. … This structure is completely alien to the neighborhood.”

DPR trustees seemed to agree, calling the project “a box” and more modern than those that surround it.

In defense of the plan, architect Mark Lyon said “modern homes are where we’re headed. There is a house at the end of the street which is concrete and glass. … Modern and extremely modern are part of the context and architectural style of not just this street but all the streets in La Jolla. With all due respect, we believe we are complying with the codes and are making an aesthetic decision on the garage and make it look better. We believe we are compatible.”

He said the project has similar side yard setback measurements, which is “what the code says.”

Trustee Angeles Leira took issue with the landscape plan. She called Avenida Cresta “one of the great streets of La Jolla,” largely due to the vegetation, and said, “I don’t see from your landscape exhibits how this new site, new design, fits into the context of that street.

“The street is important because that is the public realm … and that is one of the reasons we have regulations for the feel of the street. The landscaping here is very different from the landscaping in the surrounding area and does not seem to fit.”

Trustee Glen Rasmussen made a motion that findings could not be made to support the project, based on the “increased height of the garage that intrudes into the setback,” landscaping inconsistencies, concerns about bulk and scale and more.

The motion passed unanimously, with Chairman Brian Will customarily abstaining. The vote will proceed to the La Jolla Community Planning Association for ratification or additional review, though Lyon said he would speak to the homeowner to consider the DPR concerns.

Village companion unit

The committee voted in favor of a project to create a companion unit behind 7768 Prospect Place in The Village.

Applicant representative and architect Leticia Bonnet said a one-story house on the property will remain as is but an uninhabitable detached structure will be renovated and converted to a companion unit. An existing detached garage will be expanded to account for lost storage space.

In all, 330 square feet would be added to the companion structure and 230 square feet would be added to the garage.

The remodeled structure will follow the “Spanish/Santa Barbara style” of the property that fronts the house, Bonnet said.

After minimal discussion, the board voted unanimously to support the project.

La Jolla’s Development Permit Review Committee next meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16. ◆