La Jolla planners look to block home project planned for Nautilus Street

A rendering in July shows the revised plan for the Nautilus Street development.
A rendering presented to the La Jolla Community Planning Association in July shows the revised plan for a development at 735 Nautilus St.
(Stosh Podeswik)

Community Planning Association votes to appeal a San Diego hearing officer’s approval of a proposal to build two new two-story homes with junior ADUs.


After a brief debate, the La Jolla Community Planning Association voted to appeal a San Diego hearing officer’s approval of a home project planned for Nautilus Street.

The project would demolish a single-family residence at 735 Nautilus and build two new two-story single-family homes with basements that would include junior accessory dwelling units at each home. The property is across from La Jolla High School.

The proposal was heard by local boards last year, and LJCPA ultimately deadlocked in July. The project then was approved by the hearing officer. LJCPA intends to lodge an objection to that decision with the San Diego Planning Commission in coming weeks.

Earlier, La Jolla’s Development Permit Review Committee voted 3-2 in March 2022 to support construction of the project, saying it meets local building guidelines.

However, at an LJCPA hearing two months later, trustees and applicant Stosh Podeswik disagreed on whether certain measurements were in line with San Diego city code, and the board voted down the project 12-3.

But in July, Podeswik said the proposal had been modified, with the ceiling lowered by 1 foot to be more in line with allowable building heights, specifically the 30-foot limit in the coastal zone.

However, La Jollan Phil Merten argued that the grade from which the height was measured was problematic. He said the plumb line measurements — a type of measurement that uses an invisible line to determine the vertical extremes — placed the property over 30 feet. Given that the two buildings mirror each other, neither complies with the municipal code, Merten said.

During its July 7 meeting, LJCPA considered two motions — one for and one against the project — and both failed. Thus the updated project went to the city with no opinion from LJCPA. The city did have the findings of the DPR Committee and the previous LJCPA vote to consider in reviewing the plan.

Though the city does not charge recognized community planning groups the typical fees to file an appeal, it does require an in-person presentation downtown.

Some LJCPA trustees were less than confident that appealing the project would be a good use of the board’s time.

“The possibility of us prevailing is slim,” said Vice President Diane Kane. “In the three years I was involved with appeals, we won one.”

Given the low success rate, trustee Glen Rasmussen said: “I’m not optimistic that our appeal would prevail. I think the findings that we made … are grounds for an appeal, but I don’t think we are going to get anywhere.”

However, community member Don Schmidt argued: “Your job is to uphold the Community Plan, and it means appealing a project. It doesn’t matter if you think the city is going to pass it; you have to stand up for La Jolla and defend this plan.”

Merten said the appeal would point out “where city staff can make erroneous decisions and approve projects. … It is up to this body to call them on it.”

Trustee Brian Will noted “it’s not often that I vote against a project, but I will always defer to the municipal code. I felt there are valid reasons this project violated the municipal code and we outlined them pretty clearly and told the city staff where to look. ... It’s unfortunate that they didn’t listen, but I think there is a valid reason to fight this project.”

A motion to pursue the appeal passed 11-2, with Rasmussen and trustee Jodi Rudick opposed. A subcommittee will form to produce a statement to submit to the Planning Commission with the reasons for opposing the project. ◆