La Jolla review committee endorses scaled-down plan for new three-story house in Country Club area

A rendering of a home proposed for Castellana Road presented to the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee
A rendering of a home proposed for Castellana Road presented to the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee shows (in green) areas that have been removed to reduce the overall size.
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The DPR Committee also gives support to two home projects in Bird Rock, despite some missing information.


Rather than proceed to the city of San Diego with a “no” vote from La Jolla groups, the architectural team for a house proposed for Castellana Road in the Country Club area went back to the drawing board — literally.

After getting thumbs down from the La Jolla Community Planning Association in May and facing backlash from neighbors, the team reduced the size and scale of the three-story house planned for a lot that is now vacant.

At the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee meeting June 20, applicant representative Jennifer Bolyn presented the new design, which ultimately received unanimous approval.

The findings now go to LJCPA for ratification or further review. Bolyn committed to speaking with concerned neighbors in the days leading to the next LJCPA meeting on Thursday, July 6.

Applicants may proceed to city review with a “no” vote in La Jolla, given that LJCPA is only an advisory group. However, Bolyn said she wanted to create “as nice a project as possible” that could win community support.

Bolyn told DPR trustees that areas throughout the proposed house were reduced and pulled in to reduce the square footage from the original 10,120. A new proposed size was not immediately available.

Bolyn told the DPR Committee that the driveway was brought in by 10 feet, more landscaping was added, and the sizes of the decks, terraces and overhangs were reduced.

“I do believe that one of the reasons this structure felt a little bit imposing from the street was the decks more than the building, because the building conforms to the [neighborhood] setbacks,” she said. “There are so many buildings that are set right on the street, so we are not out of character.”

Trustee Brian Williams applauded the changes, saying, “I think the reduction in scale is very nice … and I like the changes and think they addressed a lot of the earlier comments.”

During the project’s first review in February, Bolyn said the location is “a pretty narrow street” on a “challenging site.” But she added that only 6,292 square feet would be above ground and therefore contribute to the floor area ratio, or size of the house in relation to its lot.

The DPR Committee voted to support the project in March, despite neighbors’ concerns about the height, the square footage included in the FAR measurement, how the size of the house would relate to its neighbors, how excavation for the garage would affect surrounding houses and more.

At the LJCPA meeting in May, residents spoke against the development, citing its size and saying the aesthetics would be different from the other houses in the neighborhood. The board voted 8-3 to oppose the project.

At the time, LJCPA trustee Patrick Ahern said “part of the issue is the home starts right at the street, whereas some of the other homes are set back a bit and the scale is smaller.”

Other DPR news

The committee supported two other projects — with trepidation.

Wrelton Drive: A plan to remodel and add to a two-story house at 625 Wrelton Drive in Bird Rock was approved despite some concerns about how the height was measured and whether it is appropriate to refer to the work as a remodel.

A rendering depicts a home remodeling and addition at 625 Wrelton Drive.
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The proposal includes a 186-square-foot first-floor addition, a 2,074-square-foot second-floor addition and a 115-square-foot third-story addition, along with decks.

Applicant representative Phil Quatrino told the DPR in May that the project would “open up the house to the exterior” and keep its footprint close to what currently exists. But the height, overall size and neighborhood conformance worried some who attended the meeting.

Quatrino returned to the DPR on June 20 with imagery of how the property would look from the nearby Tourmaline Surfing Park parking lot. But he did not present a streetscape depicting the proposed development in relation to its neighbors.

After some debate as to whether the committee had enough information to proceed, trustees voted 4-3 to recommend that the city approve the project.

Trustees Diane Kane, Angeles Leira and Mike Costello were opposed. Leira said that while she doesn’t dislike the design, she objects to its placement in the neighborhood.

Chelsea Avenue: Another project in the Bird Rock area also gained DPR approval. This one would demolish a two-story house at 5646 Chelsea Ave. and build a new two-story house with an attached garage, a basement and a roof deck along with an attached accessory dwelling unit.

La Jolla DPR Committee members gather to look at plans for a new house at 5646 Chelsea Ave.
La Jolla DPR Committee members gather to look at plans for a new house at 5646 Chelsea Ave. presented by applicant representative Sam Koob during the group’s June 20 meeting at The Bishop’s School.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Applicant representative Sam Koob attended the June meeting after further information was requested in May. However, acting DPR Chairman Greg Jackson noted that “a site plan that uses color to illustrate how this all fits” with the neighborhood was not among the information presented. Some trustees added that architectural plans were “hard to see.”

Also, though a commitment was made to add landscaping to the property, a landscaping plan was not presented.

Nevertheless, a motion to recommend that the city support the project passed 4-3, with Kane, Leira and Costello opposed because they wanted more information.

The recommendation will go to LJCPA for ratification or further review.

Williams, who also is an LJCPA trustee, said that if the landscaping plan is not completed by the LJCPA meeting and the project undergoes a full hearing, “I’m likely to change my [DPR] vote.”

Next meeting: The La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee next meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, at a location to be determined. The agenda will be posted 72 hours in advance at ◆