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NBA player’s home-build project approved by La Jolla Shores permit review board

A rendering depicts an 18,436-square-foot house planned for NBA player Tobias Harris and his fiancée, Jasmine Winton.
A rendering depicts an 18,436-square-foot house planned in La Jolla for Philadelphia 76ers player Tobias Harris and his fiancée, Jasmine Winton.
(Courtesy of Tag Front)

A plan to build a house for Philadelphia 76ers basketball player Tobias Harris and fiancée Jasmine Winton got nothing but net at the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee’s meeting Nov. 15, when the board voted unanimously to support it.

Harris bought a vacant lot on Senn Way more than two years ago to build a house, and in November 2020, he made an elaborate marriage proposal to Winton on the site.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris buys a blufftop La Jolla property and pulls off an elaborate surprise proposal to his girlfriend.

The plan went before the Shores PRC last November for preliminary feedback (no vote was taken), but the committee had questions about the heights of certain walls and the view from surrounding properties.

Revised plans were presented this month. The project calls for coastal development and site development permits to build a two-story, 18,436-square-foot house over a basement/garage, with a detached 3,462-square-foot gym, a pool and a 2,670-square-foot outdoor basketball court on the 5.4-acre property.

Architect Mehdi Rafaty of Tag Front said almost 22,000 square feet of new landscaping was added to the plans to soften the appearance, and tall walls were pulled back from the property line and “opened up” so “it’s not a tall wall facing anyone in the neighboring property.”

He added that the house was set far enough back from surrounding properties that “most of the neighbors are not going to see the house.”

PRC trustee Janie Emerson said the new plans address the board’s “biggest concern,” which was the view from the street, and thanked the architects for listening to past comments.

“It’s always nice when we can work together on projects so they can turn out well for the owner and for the area,” Emerson said. She welcomed Harris and Winton to the neighborhood.

Trustee Angie Preisendorfer called the house “an engineering feat” and said she appreciated the private nature of the layout.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris drives to the basket during a playoff game against Atlanta in June.
(Associated Press)

Harris, a 29-year-old forward, signed a five-year, $180 million contract with the NBA’s 76ers in 2019. For his marriage proposal last year, Harris arranged a giant carpet of red rose petals in the shape of a 20-foot-wide heart outlined by candles. A path, also strewn with rose petals, led to an extensively decorated gazebo outfitted with a chandelier, swagged curtains, dinner settings and more roses.

Afterward, Harris told The San Diego Union-Tribune, “When I’m done with basketball and retired, I’m going to be waking up every day in La Jolla and enjoying my family.”

Other Shores PRC news

Paseo del Ocaso project denied: A home project planned for 7951 Paseo del Ocaso was voted down in its third review by the board.

The plans call for coastal development and site development permits to demolish a single-family residence including a garage, pool and shed and build a new 3,355-square-foot, two-story single-family residence with roof access and an attached two-car garage.

The board reviewed the project in September and October but did not vote. During those reviews, PRC trustees expressed concern about the closeness of the house to the property line and the appearance of a solid blank wall, conflicting with local building guidelines.

To try to mitigate the concerns, the applicants said the side elevations were broken up, the height was reduced and landscaping was added.

But it wasn’t enough.

La Jollan Phil Merten said that though it is “quite a nice design,” the house wouldn’t work “in context of the neighborhood.” He argued that the second story should “step back to be in conformance to the older buildings that surround it.”

Emerson said she was disappointed in the most recent design. “I feel like all the work we put into this meant nothing,” she said. “We were explicit about [the second story] stepping back and not having 30-foot walls. … What you have done does nothing to correct the issues we brought up.”

Rather than return for a fourth review, the applicants opted for a vote by the board. A motion that findings cannot be made to support the project passed 4-1, with Preisendorfer dissenting because “I like the design.”

Avenida de las Ondas project approved: A residential plan described as a “nice addition” to the neighborhood was approved unanimously.

The project calls for coastal development and site development permits to add 906 square feet to a two-story, 4,362-square-foot house at 8424 Avenida de las Ondas, add 686 square feet to the garage and make associated site improvements.

Rollin Ritter of Architects Local said the proposed development is “well within the range” of square footage and setbacks in comparison with surrounding houses.

“The character of the neighborhood is what drove our design decision,” Ritter said. “We didn’t want to do anything too outlandish. We wanted to work with the existing conditions of the site … but we wanted to give them the look they were going for.”

Emerson said the development is “a nice addition. I know that house and … it needs a facelift. This looks good.”

Preisendorfer said she is “excited to see this house change and improve.”

Trustee Dan Courtney, while joking that “it’s been awhile since a project came before this group that I actually like,” said he appreciates that the development “doesn’t max out the height or the FAR [floor area ratio, or the size of a structure in relation to the size of its lot].”

The PRC’s findings for all three projects will proceed to the La Jolla Community Planning Association for ratification or additional review.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee next meets (pending items to review) on Monday, Dec. 20, online. Learn more at lajollacpa.org. ◆