DPR Committee supports Bird Rock home development, despite concern that it’s ‘crammed in’

A projection of a rendering of a home and accessory dwelling unit proposed for 851 Forward St. in Bird Rock
A projection of a rendering of a home and accessory dwelling unit proposed for 851 Forward St. in Bird Rock is presented to the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee on July 18.
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Despite concerns about how a proposed Bird Rock development would fit onto its lot, the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee gave its support to a home-build project for the eastern end of Forward Street during the plan’s first hearing July 18.

Domusstudio Architecture seeks a coastal development permit to demolish a residence and garage and build a new two-story single-family home and a detached one-story accessory dwelling unit at 851 Forward.

The project has a high point of just over 26 feet, within the 30 feet allowed. “We purposely sited the home away from the neighbors and toward the alley so as not to impact the neighborhood,” said Domusstudio architect and principal David Keitel.

Architect Anna Nagasugi added that many of the houses immediately surrounding the proposed development are two stories.

During DPR deliberations, committee member Greg Jackson said that “height-wise, this is reasonably consistent with the neighborhood … but this looks like it was really shoehorned into the site.”

The house and accessory dwelling unit total 3,181 square feet on a 5,227-square-foot lot.

Because of the planned ADU, “you have a lot crammed in, and it looks crammed in,” Jackson said.

Keitel acknowledged that “the lot is not huge” but said there is “a mixture” of different styles and sizes in the neighborhood.

A projection of a rendering depicts a proposed development at 851 Forward St. from multiple viewpoints.
(Photo by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

With a few questions from neighbors about the height, placement of the fence and windows and whether sewer lines would be shared, the committee voted to make the preliminary review final and then voted 5-0 to support the project, with DPR Chairman Brian Will customarily abstaining.

The findings will proceed to the La Jolla Community Planning Association for ratification or further review.

Other DPR news

Skylark Drive site walls: The board grappled with a proposal to retroactively endorse permits for site walls that have already been built at a single-family residence at 902 Skylark Drive in the Muirlands area and asked the applicant to return with more information.

At issue is whether the walls in the backyard would have been permitted had approval been sought before they were built.

Homeowner Tony Moran said three retaining walls around 7 feet tall were built on the property a year and a half before he bought the house.

“The seller disclosed that the walls had been cited by the city [of San Diego] because they were not permitted … then COVID happened and the seller moved to Florida,” he said.

Will noted that according to local building codes, retaining walls in the setback area must be a maximum of six feet. “Anything taller than that is a fence, even if it is made of the exact same material,” he said.

“This looks like it would not have been permitted,” Jackson said. “The key question seems to be, if we turned back the clock and [the owner] had applied for a permit, would it have been approved? If the answer is yes, then I don’t have a problem. But if the answer is no, we shouldn’t be thinking it is a good idea either.”

The board suggested Moran seek more information about whether the walls would have been approved, or what remediation measures would be needed, and asked him to return at a future meeting.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee meets the second and third Tuesdays of each month. The next meeting is at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, at a location to be determined. The agenda will be posted 72 hours in advance at ◆