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San Diego hearing officer clears path for condo conversion project on La Jolla Boulevard

Two houses at 7209 and 7211 La Jolla Blvd. are proposed to be converted to condominiums.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

With no one opposed, a San Diego hearing officer approved a proposal for land containing two houses on La Jolla Boulevard allowing them to be sold separately under a condominium conversion. The project has been under review by La Jolla groups and the city for five years.

During a virtual meeting Aug. 3, hearing officer Antoinette Gibbs determined that findings could be made to approve a coastal development permit and map waiver for a condominium conversion of two dwellings at 7209 and 7211 La Jolla Blvd. With no speakers scheduled to comment, the project was listed on the consent agenda and approved without a presentation or discussion. Any appeals must be filed with the San Diego Planning Commission within 10 days.

According to the San Diego municipal code, a condominium conversion means “the change in ownership from a single structure or group of structures used for residential rental units to individual ownership of apartments or units under a condominium plan or to a cooperative or stock apartment project.”

When the proposal was reviewed locally in 2017, the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee took issue with a proposed relocation and detachment of a carport, which is to be turned into a garage, and construction of an outdoor staircase. But it ultimately voted to support the plan.

In October 2017, the La Jolla Community Planning Association voted 6-5 to recommend city approval of the proposal.

The project was determined to be categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act.

“The proposed conversion supports … [the La Jolla Community Plan] by maintaining a higher density of housing near a transit area, with public transit and a wide range of commercial/retail service establishments within walking distance,” according to a city report. “The proposed conversion to residential condominiums contributes to providing more variety and affordable homeownership opportunities in the area by providing smaller, more efficient dwellings where mostly larger single dwellings exist. Finally, the project proposes improvements to the parkway that will restore and preserve the streetscape theme of the neighborhood.”

The development would be across from a group of historical houses known as Heritage Place. Spurred by La Jolla history enthusiasts Pat and Bob Schaelchlin, Heritage Place was created in the 1970s to move houses that were under threat of being demolished. The houses in the complex date to the early 1900s.

“It was a phenomenon in the late 1970s around the time of the La Jolla centennial,” said La Jolla Historical Society historian Carol Olten. “It was started in an effort to make a place to put buildings … so they could be restored and so people could be reminded of their heritage.”

The project was considered controversial at the time, Olten said, because “people didn’t want old houses being moved across the street from them. But now that their integrity has been maintained, they are quite valuable.” ◆