La Jolla Shores house/ADU project gets clearance from San Diego hearing officer

A rendering depicts a 2,674-square-foot house planned for 1851 Spindrift Drive.
A rendering depicts a 2,674-square-foot house planned for 1851 Spindrift Drive in La Jolla Shores. The proposal includes a basement, an attached garage and an accessory dwelling unit above the garage.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

A homebuilding project in La Jolla Shores that faced controversy during its local reviews cleared a hurdle with the city of San Diego much more easily.

The project to demolish a 1,863-square-foot single-family residence and garage at 1851 Spindrift Drive and build a new two-story, 2,674-square-foot single-family house passed on the consent agenda at a hearing officer’s meeting March 22 with no presentation or discussion.

The new house would include a 1,574-square-foot basement and an attached 458-square-foot garage with a 382-square-foot accessory dwelling unit above the garage.

Hearing officer Patricia Bautista approved a mitigation, monitoring and recording program intended to reduce any potential impact from the project on archaeological and tribal cultural resources to a “less than significant level.”

The project underwent three reviews by the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee from July 2021 to February 2022. The first time, the applicants were asked to return with more information. The second time, the project was voted down over bulk and scale issues. The third time, the PRC voted to support the development given changes that addressed concerns of neighbors and PRC members.

Among those issues was the floor area ratio (the new house’s total floor area in relation to the size of its lot), which PRC trustees previously said was too large.

The FAR was reduced from 0.86 to 0.79, according to applicant representative Haley Duke of Island Architects in La Jolla. She added that the setbacks were increased on all sides of the property, with the largest increase in the front yard — from 10 feet to 12 feet.

The home, to be done in a Spanish palette with wood, terracotta and natural materials, also will contain “some big openings” — such as covered terraces and sloping roofs — “so it’s less wall at the facades,” Duke said.

When the PRC’s findings proceeded to the La Jolla Community Planning Association in April, local architect Phil Merten said he had a “big issue with a number of aspects of the project.” Among them, he argued, is that the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (a blueprint for design) states that structure setbacks “shall be in general conformity with those in the general vicinity,” which he contended is not the case with this project.

A neighbor also expressed concern about the size of the proposed house and the setbacks.

In the end, LJCPA voted 10-5 to ratify the PRC’s findings.

The hearing officer’s decision on the project is final unless appealed to the San Diego Planning Commission by Thursday, April 6. ◆