‘A promise isn’t good enough’: DPR Committee wants to see revised plans for Gravilla Townhomes before voting

A street montage shows how the proposed Gravilla Townhomes project (the large white building) would look among its neighbors.
A street montage showing how the proposed Gravilla Townhomes project (the large white building) would look among its neighbors, as presented to the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee on May 10.
(Courtesy of AVRP Studio)

Although the applicant team offered to make modifications to its Gravilla Townhomes project, the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee wanted the changes in writing. Thus, when the project was heard during DPR’s May 10 meeting, the team was asked to return for a third time.

The Gravilla Townhomes proposal calls for a coastal development permit for a new two-story project with 12 for-sale condominiums — including one affordable for people of very low income — with 13 below-grade parking spaces with car stackers at 6710 La Jolla Blvd., at the corner of Gravilla Street. The nearby alley is to be expanded.

The La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee approved the project during its April 11 meeting.

Addressing comments from previous hearings, architect Doug Austin said the team was working to make sure the project would conform to city and local height measurements, that windows would be aligned so they don’t face into neighboring properties and that light pollution would be contained.

He said the project’s height complies with the San Diego municipal code except for one parapet (a low protective wall along the edge of a roof or balcony) in which an angle would be reduced by 18 inches.

Austin said a lighting designer had been employed to create a plan to contain the light to the building.

“Lighting can be one of the most beautiful parts of a building,” he said. “We would have proper light shields and light would be directed onto our site and not upward or outward. We will comply with city regulations on that.”

However, the changes that were discussed were not reflected in the plans that were presented. DPR trustee Glen Rasmussen called that “concerning.” He noted that at the La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting this month, there was a dispute about whether a project met “the rather complex” height limits. He said DPR would be best served seeing the revised plan.

Austin asked that the board make it a condition of approval that the modifications be made. He argued it would be “time-consuming and expensive” to go through “all the details of a project like this.”

“We understand the request, we have no problem meeting the request, but we ask that it be done in a timely fashion,” he said. “We don’t mind people holding our feet to the fire.”

However, trustee Mike Costello said the board “has a lot of history” with conditional approvals and makes it a practice not to offer them. “A conditional approval goes downtown, is read … and that’s the last anyone hears of it. All they know from that point on [is] that it was approved.

“A promise isn’t good enough,” Costello said. “City staff will pass a project along with violations of the San Diego municipal code. We have examples of that.”

The applicant team will return at the next DPR meeting on Tuesday, May 17, to show revised drawings.

Other DPR news

Copa de Oro project: The board determined that a revised set of plans for a home at 1542 Copa de Oro substantially conforms to a previously approved coastal development permit.

Applicant Michael Morton said the permit had been approved but the “owner has decided to make some small changes” to add to the rear of the property. After comments from the city, the pool was pulled back five feet from the top of a nearby bluff. In doing so, minor adjustments were made to the bedrooms.

“The biggest change from the street facade is the garage is pulled to be parallel to the bedroom suites,” Morton said, and square footage was increased by 281 for a total of 3,936. The height did not change and the floor area ratio (the size of a building in relation to its lot) is 0.40, “well under” area limits.

A motion to make the preliminary review final passed unanimously, as did a motion that findings can be made that the project substantially conforms to the previously approved permit.

DPR approved the previous permit in November 2020. At the time, Morton described the project as a partial demolition, remodeling and 784-square-foot ground-floor addition to a 2,871-square-foot, one-story single-family residence. ◆