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La Jolla community planners veto PRC’s OK of proposed new house on former site of historic home

A rendering shows the planned new construction on a vacant lot on Via Capri Court where a historic house once stood.
(Courtesy of Karina Diamond)

The La Jolla Community Planning Association vetoed the findings of its La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee, which had decided that a planned home development conformed with a previously approved permit.

The Shores PRC made its decision in February on a proposal to build a new 6,219-square-foot house at 2382 Via Capri Court. The property currently is a vacant lot on which a historic house once stood but was illegally demolished.

But the Community Planning Association voted 11-4 during its April 7 meeting to recommend that the applicant effectively start from scratch with a new permit.

Project manager Karina Diamond previously said the current owners bought the lot “unaware there was an illegal demolition of the previously existing house.”

The previous owners received a coastal development permit to redesign the house to better withstand earthquakes and changes to the hillside that surrounds the property, but they never completed the project. Instead, the house was torn down.

“The [current] owners want to build the house as was designed and approved under the previous coastal development permit,” Diamond said.

She explained changes to the floor plan in saying the “edges were minorly adjusted and there is a small reduction of lot coverage,” plus a driveway was removed.

After several previous hearings and an 11th-hour attempt to stop it, a home project in La Jolla Shores that has undergone multiple changes won support from the La Jolla Community Planning Association during its April 7 meeting.

LJCPA member Janie Emerson, who also is a PRC trustee, said the changes made her question whether the project substantially conforms. “This design is quite a bit like that one, but there are significant changes to it,” she said.

Though Diamond said the owners intend to build “in accordance with those plans,” the existing permit calls for modifications to an existing structure, and there is no existing structure.

Hence the red flag for some LJCPA board members.

Trustee Greg Jackson said he wanted the proposal to be reviewed as a new project rather than as a substantial-conformance review.

“There are so many layers here … and it feels wrong to me that we’re proceeding this way,” he said. “There is a vacant lot where someone is proposing to build a house, and we have a perfectly good process for dealing with that, which is where someone applies for a CDP and we review it. This is not the remodeling of a historic structure, it’s a new structure.”

Trustee Mike Costello was one of the dissenters in the board’s vote, saying the decision “punishes the wrong owners.”

Trustees John Shannon, Bob Steck and Brian Will also voted no.

The city of San Diego may agree with LJCPA or overturn its findings and determine that the project conforms to the previously approved permit.

In the latter case, the applicant would be allowed to apply for a building permit and proceed with construction without further community review. ◆