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DPR board declines to endorse sidewalk dining expansion at Bird Rock’s Paradisaea; PDO wants more information

Management at Paradisaea restaurant at 5680 La Jolla Blvd. is looking to expand its sidewalk dining.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Plans for an outdoor seating expansion at LJ Crafted Wines and a pool house behind a home in Upper Hermosa get approval.

A proposal to expand the controversial outdoor dining at Bird Rock’s new Paradisaea restaurant was reviewed this week both by the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee and Development Permit Review Committee, with neither voting to endorse the plan.

The applicant team is seeking a permit to expand its outdoor dining along the building at 5680 La Jolla Blvd. to add more tables and chairs, with the furthest expansion being 17 feet from the building and 14 feet from the curb. The seating area is to be delineated by a rope, planters and umbrellas.

For the record:

2:37 p.m. Nov. 21, 2022This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Deborah Marengo’s last name.

At the PDO meeting Nov. 14, Chairwoman Deborah Marengo echoed concerns from other hearings that the proposal for the restaurant itself hadn’t gone before the committee for review in its early stages. Permitting for the restaurant was handled by the city of San Diego.

Though the proposed sidewalk cafe was reviewed by the Bird Rock Community Council earlier this year, management “did not get input from any other community groups,” Marengo said. “There is equipment on the roof and they didn’t come before PDO for any type of screening, they did not come to us to have us look at the signage, the list goes on and on.”

In April, the city asked the Community Council to weigh in on the outdoor seating’s planned encroachment into an area in the Bird Rock Maintenance Assessment District, but not about the restaurant’s design or operations.

In September, the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board was asked to consider a valet parking proposal for the restaurant, and the board opposed a request to convert two parking spaces just outside the establishment to a valet zone.

Applicant representative Trip Bennett said the valet parking is no longer being explored.

Paradisaea opened for business Sept. 25.

Area resident Darcy Ashley said the sidewalk dining is an “intensification of use that does not have the coastal development permit that should come with it.” If the use is going to be intensified with the addition of seats “where there was none before,” increased parking demand should be addressed, she added.

PDO trustee John Shannon expressed concern about whether there is enough room for pedestrians with the existing sidewalk seating and whether any expanded outdoor dining would leave sufficient space.

“I have stood at that crosswalk and have been standing where those tables are and had cars blast through [the roundabout]. … The proximity to the traffic is disturbing to me,” Shannon added.

He suggested that other boards review the traffic and pedestrian issues associated with the outdoor seating.

The board ultimately opted to ask the applicant to return with more information about how the safety of diners is being protected given the proximity to La Jolla Boulevard.

The next day at the DPR Committee meeting, Bennett acknowledged that “some of you are concerned with regulations and processes that weren’t followed” regarding the restaurant proposal being heard at earlier stages.

However, he said, all the changes to the historically designated former “Piano Building” were reviewed for conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties under a separate city building permit and that the only deviation being requested is an expansion of the outdoor dining “with an additional 350 square feet for seating.”

The Planned District Ordinance Committee backs the four-phase expansion proposal along Draper Avenue, but the Development Permit Review Committee asks for more details.

DPR trustees also had concerns about the outdoor dining being close to La Jolla Boulevard. Though the applicants made a request to add bollards to separate the dining area from the pedestrian walkway and diners from moving cars, Bennett said city planners told the team that “bollards are not allowed in the city right of way.”

Currently the outdoor seating is separated from the walkway by velvet ropes.

Trustee Mike Costello said the expansion plan for the outdoor seating is “for reasons of safety ... inconsistent with Bird Rock’s walkable community plan and traffic calming plan.”

Trustee Greg Jackson said that “although we identify no specific ways in which the proposed outdoor seating violates zoning or other municipal code requirements, we believe it is dangerous and ill-advised and that were the city to approve it, the city would risk liability for any ensuing injuries or damages”

The board ultimately stated that while it “does not object to outdoor seating as proposed,” members “encourage the city and the proprietor to do what they can to ensure protection of the diners from motor vehicles.”

A motion to that effect passed 4-2, with Costello and trustee Angeles Leira opposed because it “doesn’t deal with the issues.”

DPR Chairman Brian Will did not vote, as is customary in non-tiebreaking situations, but he said “I want to support the project and vibrant sidewalk cafes [and] I want to encourage businesses to expand in La Jolla … but I don’t want to be the one to endorse a project that could end up hurting someone in the future.”

An application for the project was filed Oct. 18 with the city Development Services Department. According to a city notice, staff will make a decision on the application without a public hearing “no less than 30 days after the [Nov. 15] date of mailing the notice of future decision.”

Other Bird Rock development news

The current outdoor dining area of LJ Crafted Wines at 5621 La Jolla Blvd.
Owner Lowell Jooste would like to further develop the current outdoor dining area of LJ Crafted Wines at 5621 La Jolla Blvd.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

LJ Crafted Wines: Plans to install a new 3-foot-high cable railing to create a 210-square-foot “sidewalk cafe with a slight twist” at LJ Crafted Wines at 5621 La Jolla Blvd. got thumbs up from both the PDO and DPR committees.

At the DPR meeting, applicant representative Michael Morton said owner Lowell Jooste wants to expand the current outdoor seating area and has an agreement with a neighboring property owner to rent some unused concrete area adjacent to the business.

Morton said there would be an interrupted path for pedestrians and “a corral around the eating and drinking area” mimicking what is currently there. Tables and chairs will be taken in when the business is closed. The current outdoor seating is permanent, but the extension would need to be renewed every two years.

The DPR voted unanimously to make its preliminary review final and support the project.

The PDO Committee made similar findings.

Waverly Avenue pool house: A plan to build a 572-square-foot pool house behind a home at 6260 Waverly Ave. in the Upper Hermosa neighborhood near Bird Rock went before the DPR Committee. Work also would include construction of shoring walls and stairs.

Representing the applicant team, La Jolla architect Tony Crisafi said the home is being remodeled.

“What is proposed is a pool at the north end of the property and a pool house,” he said. “The impact of this proposed development is increased garden space because the existing terraces and decks are being taken out, and the pool house will be set into the slope.” A permit is required because the building is being “pushed into the upslope.”

A wall associated with the new development will not be visible from any neighboring sites and is “the least obtrusive design for the use of that space for the owner,” Crisafi said.

The DPR board voted unanimously to make its preliminary review final, and a motion to support the project passed 5-1, with Leira opposed because she had questions about how the pool house will be situated. ◆