S.D. Planning Commission supports townhomes and cottages project in La Jolla

A rendering depicts a proposed development that would build six new townhomes and remodel three houses.
A rendering depicts a proposed development that would build six new townhomes and remodel three houses in the 800 block of Coast Boulevard South in La Jolla.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

With few questions and lot of praise, the San Diego Planning Commission unanimously gave its approval Feb. 2 to a project to develop part of Coast Boulevard South in La Jolla by remodeling and/or moving some houses — including historic cottages — and building new townhomes.

The plan calls for coastal development, site development and neighborhood development permits and a tentative map to consolidate two lots into one and demolish five structures at 813-821 Coast Blvd. South. The project also would remodel and add to a non-historic property at 811 Coast Blvd. South; remodel and add to the historic Harriet Cottage at 825 Coast Blvd. South; relocate, remodel and add to the historic Dorothy Cottage at 827 Coast Blvd. South; and build six new three-story townhouses over an underground garage. The development would total 23,591 square feet.

San Diego city staff member Catherine Rom said the proposal is consistent with the community plan in terms of residential density and that “relocation of the historically designated cottage from the rear of the property to the front will clear a large portion of land at the rear of the site to accommodate the highest number of new units possible.”

She noted that both the San Diego Historical Resources Board and the La Jolla Community Planning Association supported the project, and she said city staff’s recommendation was that the Planning Commission approve the needed permits.

During local review, LJCPA trustee Tom Brady said, there were concerns about how the safety and quality of life of senior citizens at the nearby Casa de Mañana assisted-living facility would be considered.

“It’s an excellent project; we were very impressed with it,” Brady said. “But there were concerns for the residents because Casa de Mañana is adjacent to this project. Coast Boulevard South is a two-way street and there is a crosswalk just north of this project [that would be affected by the construction]. … I think it is a valid concern. A lot of residents use that crosswalk, and construction activities are going to be considerable. Consideration should be given to the construction traffic.”

While in agreement, Planning Commissioner Matthew Boomhower said traffic plans are not in the commission’s purview. But he asked the applicant to address that as part of construction plans.

Andy Fotsch — co-owner and principal designer at Will & Fotsch Architects in La Jolla, which is designing the project — responded that “we are deeply concerned about the community and [Casa de Mañana] resident safety. We want to work with our neighbors to make the construction process as safe and painless as possible.”

The website has been created to provide construction updates for neighbors.

Will & Fotsch Architects co-owner Andy Fotsch
Andy Fotsch, co-owner of Will & Fotsch Architects in La Jolla, presents a proposal for Coast Boulevard South to the San Diego Planning Commission on Feb. 2.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

When LJCPA endorsed the project, it approved a supplementary motion to request that the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board “study the traffic situation along Coast Boulevard with specific attention to this project during construction and once complete.”

“I really like this project a lot,” Boomhower said. “This is a very complicated site, and the fact that you managed to squeeze as much flour into this sack as you have is really a testament to the applicant and their design team. I think it’s very thoughtfully put together.”

He added that the support from LJCPA and the Historical Resources Board was “very telling.”

Planning Commission Chairman William Hofman said he was curious about the process of moving the historic Dorothy Cottage.

“We’re going to brace the home and basically slide it down the hill to the foundation,” Fotsch said. “Then we will hover it in place over the foundation as we reinforce the entire foundation and make sure it perfectly aligns … and then plop it in place.

“There are methods and means still being discussed, but there are companies that specialize in moving historic homes. It is not a cheap undertaking and it is going to be complex, but it will be very cool to watch. That will be one of the first things we do, so hopefully [it gets done] by the end of the year, assuming everything moves well.”

The frontage of the project is to consist of three houses: a historic unit that will stay in place, the historic cottage in the back that will be moved to the front, and a non-historic cottage currently on the frontage that will undergo a remodel and keep 50 percent of the original walls.

The new townhouses in the back will stack vertically and be largely hidden from public view, Will & Fotsch said. ◆