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La Jolla Community Planning Association deadlocks on revised Nautilus Street homes project

A rendering shows revised plans for a Nautilus Street two-home development.
A rendering presented to the La Jolla Community Planning Association during its July 7 meeting shows revised plans for a Nautilus Street two-home development.
(Courtesy of Stosh Podeswik)

The La Jolla Community Planning Association was unable to reach consensus during its July 7 meeting regarding updated plans to build two houses with junior accessory dwelling units on Nautilus Street.

The board made two motions, one for and one against the project, both of which failed. Thus, the updated project will go to the city of San Diego with no opinion from LJCPA.

The proposed development calls for a coastal development permit to demolish a single-family residence at 735 Nautilus St. and build two new two-story single-family homes with basements that would include junior ADUs within each home. The property is across from La Jolla High School.

The two homes would be separated by six feet, with a motor court on the west side of the property serving as a driveway and an entrance for both. From the street, the project would appear to be one unit in front of the other instead of side by side.

LJCPA’s Development Permit Review Committee voted 3-2 on March 15 that the project meets local building guidelines and that the committee could support its construction.

However, at the May 5 LJCPA hearing, trustees and applicant Stosh Podeswik disagreed on whether certain measurements were in line with San Diego city code. At the time, trustees voted down the project 12-3.

The La Jolla Community Planning Association meets July 7 online.
(Courtesy of La Jolla Community Planning Association )

Since then, the proposal was modified to reduce the height. “There were some issues there that were confusing,” Podeswik said as he provided additional renderings with new dimensions for the project.

He said the ceiling height has been lowered by 1 foot to be more in line with allowable building heights, specifically the 30-foot limit for the coastal zone.

However, La Jollan Phil Merten argued that the grade from which the height was measured was problematic. “The San Diego municipal code says that structure height is measured from existing grade or proposed grade, whichever is lowest,” Merten said. “A dimension of 30 feet in height is being measured from the existing grade to the roof. But the proposed grade is significantly lower. So measuring from the proposed grade to the top of the building is substantially more than 30 feet.”

He said the plumb line measurements — a type of measurement that uses an invisible line to determine the vertical extremes — also placed the property over 30 feet.

Given that the two buildings mirror each other, neither complies with the municipal code, Merten said.

But local architect Michael Morton argued that a complete picture was not being given. “There are provisions within the municipal code for an imaginary plane, or plumb line, measurement that goes from the top of existing grade to the bottom of new grade,” he said. “The plumb line measurement is taken from that grade.”

He added that there also are stipulations that factor in basements.

A motion for LJCPA to “recommend that the city carefully review the issues discussed … and approve the project should it continue to find that the project complies with the San Diego municipal code and the La Jolla Community Plan” failed 6-5.

A second motion that findings could not be made to support the project based on how the plumb line was being measured also failed 6-5.

With no position from the board on the revised project, the city will have the findings of the DPR Committee and the previous LJCPA vote to consider in completing its review of the plan. ◆