La Jolla Shores permit review committee approves ‘bizarre’ easement vacation request

The La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee during its Dec. 20 meeting online.
The La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee discusses an easement vacation for Hillside Drive and a home renovation project on La Jolla Scenic Drive North during its Dec. 20 meeting online.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee tackled an “incredibly bizarre” service easement vacation request for Hillside Drive during its Dec. 20 meeting online. In a vacation, the city of San Diego relinquishes a public right of way or public service easement and turns it over to an adjacent property owner or owners.

But for this easement vacation, PRC trustees were unsure of exactly where the six-foot wide easement was, just that it was somewhere around 7687 Hillside Drive, across three lots, according to Michael Pallamary, the applicant’s representative.

He explained the easements in that area are only described in narrative about the properties written in 1912 by early city planners, rather than shown on a formal map. “We have been working with city staff (to vacate the easements) … but because of the way the narrative is written, they don’t know where the easements are either, just that they’re there.”

Pallamary focused on the vacation of one particular easement, which he said is not being used by public utilities or the city and is part of an ongoing project to build a house at 7687 Hillside Drive. “This project was approved a couple of years ago, and in that time, we had prepared a report but … the engineers that process this project overlooked the easement problem, which is incredibly bizarre.”

PRC trustee Matt Edwards said he saw it as “a complicated legal issue” and questioned why the city wasn’t taking the lead on the vacation. “We would have to verify … whether the city, the utilities and other affected parties are on board,” he said.

Pallamary explained the easement vacation was part of the permit process as outlined by the city, which includes getting local planning group approval.

A motion to support the project passed 4-1-2 with Edwards objecting because he said he wanted to see letter from the city and San Diego Gas & Electric indicating they support the vacation, and acting Chairwoman Emerson and trustee John Shannon abstaining.

PRC heard the project in question three times in 2018, which would build a 3,868-square-foot addition and interior remodel to an existing 3,126-square-foot residence, and construction of a new 6,880-square-foot residence with a new 815-square-foot three-car garage located at 7687 Hillside Drive.

The resulting development would be two Spanish-inspired houses of nearly 7,000 square feet each; one is considered the “upper house” given its location uphill from the “lower house.” The latter would not be seen by most passersby due to the depth of the lot.

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Trustees also lent their support to the renovation of a single-story house at 8241 La Jolla Scenic Drive North. Architect Scott Spencer said 844 square feet will be added, mostly in the back of the property, and “the predominant” 1,382-square-foot second story will be added on the quarter-acre (10,185-square-foot) lot.

He said the current homeowners “have lived there for some time, but have not done anything significant to the house in that time … the house needs to be modernized and updated. The kitchen is small, the bathrooms are small, bedrooms are small and there is no family room.”

Noting the house is “one of the few and last remaining one-story houses” in the area, Spencer said the proposed overall height is 27 and a half feet with a second-story step back and most of the current landscaping will remain as is.

A motion that findings can be made to support the project passed unanimously, with acting Chairwoman Emerson customarily abstaining.

La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee next meets (pending items to review) at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, online. Learn more at ◆