Copley Press property in La Jolla one step closer to sale, development

Artist rendering of a 25,000-square-foot estate home proposed for The Reserve, off Country Club Drive at Romero Drive (based on design guidelines established for the project).

By Pat Sherman

The final asset of the Copley Press — 25 ocean-view acres off Country Club Drive adjacent the late David Copley’s Fox Hill compound — is one step closer to being developed and sold.

During its Dec. 10 meeting, the Development Permit Review (DPR) committee voted unanimously to approve the most recent design plans for the project.

La Jolla-based Alcorn & Benton Architects, which first presented the plans to the DPR more than a year ago, made substantial changes to the project based on feedback from DPR members and residents, including a reduction in the buildings’ height, chimney size and location on the property.

The project includes the sale of two parcels to be developed as estate homes, each accompanied by strict design guidelines specifying everything from the type of fencing and driveways, to the homes’ height, and the height and type of trees allowed.

The project requires site, coastal and project development permits, as well as a vesting tentative map for a home of 5,000 square feet and another of 25,000 square feet (the latter of which may include a guest house or pool house).

The city requires the buyers to record a covenant of easement that will set aside 75 percent of the property (aka The Reserve) as open space.

Artist rendering of a 5,000-square-foot home proposed for The Reserve, off Country Club Drive at Encelia Drive. As a concession to residents of the adjacent La Jolla Summit community, the home was tucked into the hillside and its height reduced by five feet.

“Certain standards have to be met for maintenance and keeping invasive (plant) species out,” said project representative Greg Shannon, with Sedona Pacific real estate. “Basically what the city’s done is say we want to preserve the habitat in its natural condition, but we want you private people to pay for it.”

The covenant is enforceable by the city and agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Basically, it’s a legal document,” Shannon said. “If we don’t comply, they take us to court.”

Shannon said original plans included a trail system for residents and the public that would connect with La Jolla Country Club, though the city nixed those plans.

The site falls within several zones of the La Jolla Community Plan (each with their own restrictions), including: coastal overlay, coastal height, parking impact, brush management, very high fire hazard and earthquake fault buffer.

Asked if the buyers could later subdivide the parcels, developing multiple, smaller homes, Shannon said they could, theoretically, though they could not disturb or develop any of the open space area. Dividing the parcels would require the property owners to return to community planning groups and the city for a new discretionary review and permits.

“Why anyone would want to go through this process is a mystery,” Shannon said.

To address drainage concerns, the project will include three bio-retention basins that collect storm water and filter out silt, solids and some pollutants before releasing it into an adjacent canyon, where it will flow to a storm drain below.

A representative from Hayer Architecture discusses revisions made to the Harbach home plans, which received unanimous support from DPR members last month, during a final review of the project.

“The water in that storm drain eventually (flows) down to the beach,” Shannon said.

Any driveways must be made with porous concrete, which allows water to flow into an underground stormwater detention system, where it is released into the bio-retention system for filtering.

“That water is going back to the natural ravines where it always was,” Shannon said. “It’s just being controlled as to the velocity and solids in it.”

Attorney Kevin Johnson, representing several property owners in the La Jolla Summit development (overlooking The Reserve) requested that trees not be allowed that are taller than the buildings height, though DPR member Matthew Welsh said aesthetically, it is preferable that tree tops be a foot or two higher than rooflines. Design guidelines call for the use of native trees such as Torrey pine, coastal live oak, toyon or sycamore.

“We agree,” Shannon said. “This project is about being good stewards of the land and settling into the land, not stomping on the land. If we have kind of a uniform vegetation height, you’re almost forcing the landowner to go with an ornamental, non-native tree.”

Johnson requested that a certification of compliance be required, to assure the buyers do not deviate from the design guidelines.

“The level of detail and methodology for the survey that the city requires is something we’re concerned about,” he said.

In the end, DPR member Mike Costello made the motion that findings could be made to approve permits for The Reserve, which was seconded by DPR member Bob Collins.

Development Permit Review committee members unanimously approved plans to rebuild the Harbach residence, located on environmentally sensitive coastal land in Bird Rock.

In other DPR news

Harbach Home

: The DPR committee also unanimously approved revised plans for the Harbach residence at 5372 Calumet Ave. in Bird Rock.

The property owners are seeking coastal and site development permits to demolish a one-story, single-family residence and construct a 4,757-square foot, two-story, five-bedroom home over a basement. The site is located on .2-acres of environmentally sensitive coastal lands in a parking overlay zone.

DPR members requested the applicant provide a summary of the neighborhood character, an historic report for the existing home and a geologic report for the site.

Though DPR Chair Paul Benton said there were some geological issues, a representative of Hayer Architecture said keeping the structure 25 feet from the coastal bluff was consistent with slope stability criteria and had been approved by the city, as had the historic report.

DPR member Diane Kane said she discussed neighborhood character issues with Don Schmidt of the La Jolla Historical Society’s preservation committee, who was familiar with Calumet Avenue. It includes post-war properties by master architect Thomas Shepherd on its east side.

“It’s really a shame that the views have been blocked; the character of the street has changed quite a lot with development,” Kane said, although adding that she agrees with the conclusion of the historic report.

DPR member Phil Merten said the project is “quite similar to others along the street, and even a little more sensitive than the one next door that DPR approved a while back.”

Special Meeting

: The Reserve and Harbach Residence are on the consent agenda of the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s special meeting, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

During the meeting, the association will discuss a

mixed-use project

proposed for 7610 Girard Ave., next to

Vons grocery store

  1. (DPR rejected the project in October, voting that the three-story building violates the La Jolla Planed District Ordinance, regardless of whether the structure’s height conforms to San Diego Municipal Code.)
The planning association will also discuss a revised draft environmental impact report for the

Hillel Jewish Student Center

slated for land adjacent UC San Diego.—

The Development Permit Review Committee meets 4 p.m. the second and third Tuesdays of the month at

La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.