Barber Tract home development gets permit reviewers’ OK on first look

An overhead view of a proposed home development on Olivetas Avenue in La Jolla
An overhead view of a proposed home development on Olivetas Avenue is presented to the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee during its Feb. 15 meeting.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Plans to build a house in La Jolla’s Barber Tract area got a rare go-ahead on first review from the Development Permit Review Committee. The plans call for demolition of an existing residence and construction of a new 3,983-square-foot, two-story home at 7104 Olivetas Ave.

During the board’s Feb. 15 meeting, architect Taal Safdie described the changes she is making on the “challenging” site.

“The house takes over a lot of property and there is a fence that runs along the street, a carport that exists there and a few non-conforming items,” she said. “We have other restrictions ... the property [currently] has a 10-foot setback, but the permit for the new house is restricted to 15 feet. We will make the house conform when we build the new house.”

But she said the restrictions actually work well for her clients because “one of the main things they would like to achieve is an indoor/outdoor house with a southwest orientation in the garden and to maintain it as green as it is today. When you walk by the house, it just looks like a big green hedge, and we want to maintain that lushness.”

There are two mature trees on the site, and one will be removed as part of the construction. “Originally, we thought of moving the driveway to preserve the [second] one, but we had an arborist come and one of the branches is already cracking, so it is dangerous,” Safdie said.

Plans also call for removing the carport and building a two-car garage. The applicants in turn reduced the footprint of the house and the square footage.

DPR trustee Angeles Leira said it was “so refreshing” to see “something contemporary here that fits.”

She also commended the plans for the garden and other vegetation as “a great example of taking something there and extending it and putting in something new.”

Any preliminary presentation can be made final by a unanimous committee vote, and a motion that findings can be made to support the project passed 5-0, with Chairman Brian Will customarily abstaining.

Other DPR news

After preliminary presentations Feb. 15, two projects proposed by residential designer Stephanie Lupton will return to the board in coming months for a vote:

Dowling Drive duplex: One project calls for a coastal development permit to convert an existing one-story residence into a 4,258-square-foot, two-story duplex with attached tandem garages at 6253 Dowling Drive.

“It looks like a single-family house from the front … with one entry door,” Lupton said. “We will be putting in a new driveway … and some extensive landscaping up front to soften the feel of the property from the street.”

Lupton said she believes the development would replace a house designed by architect William Kesling (who built houses in San Diego from 1939 to 1962), but that the house was remodeled and therefore the “original design and integrity” were not kept.

She presented a rendering of the planned house, but not how it would appear in relation to neighboring single-story houses. Trustees asked her to return at a future meeting with a streetscape rendering, photos showing how the property looks from the nearby Fay Avenue Bike Path, documentation showing that the house is not eligible for historic designation for its connection to Kesling, and other documents. There also were questions about the home’s floor area ratio (the size of a structure in relation to its lot).

Van Nuys Street ADU: The other project calls for a coastal development permit for a new two-story, 1,200-square foot detached accessory dwelling unit with a new attached two-car garage at 760 Van Nuys St.

The existing house on the property is one story, but the ADU will “fit with the bulk and scale of the existing neighborhood” in the “coastal farmhouse/coastal craftsman style,” Lupton said.

However, Leira expressed concern that a partially covered deck would later be enclosed and “become a room really fast.”

La Jolla planners have grappled in the past with carports and patios that, when enclosed, add square footage to a house that exceeds the floor area ratio limit.

“If it were enclosed, which has a habit of happening, would the building be over the allowable FAR?” trustee Greg Jackson asked.

“Yes, it would be,” Lupton replied.

Leira suggested making the roof smaller than the deck to encourage preservation of the deck.

The applicant did not provide a materials board of the existing house or a rendering of the proposed ADU and was asked to supply them at a future meeting, plus a streetscape, a site plan to show the space between the buildings and how they would relate to surrounding buildings, along with other information.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee next meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, likely online. Learn more at ◆