La Jolla Development Permit Review committee recap

La Jolla permit reviewers consider WindanSea expansion, cell site and reservoir plans

During January meetings at La Jolla Rec Center, members of the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s Development Permit Review subcommittee (DPR) considered permit applications for several residential projects, as well as the reconstruction and removal of reservoirs, and a contract renewal request for a wireless communications facility at Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church.

Rising with the tide: During a preliminary review to the DPR, Claude-Anthony Marengo of Marengo Morton Architects presented plans for a home remodel at 6715 Neptune Place that would include a 2,738-square-foot, two-story addition, concrete deck in the front yard and subterranean car garage and gym. The home, and one adjacent it at the corner of Gravilla Street, are two of the only one-story residences remaining on Neptune Place, which fronts the coast in WindanSea.

The site is comprised of two lots (including one fronting Vista Del Mar to the east) that are zoned differently, Marengo said. “We’re doing a full excavation (for the garage),” he said, noting the subterranean area would also be used to catch groundwater runoff. “We’ll be putting filtration systems all the way around this whole structure.”

A portion of an existing, five-car garage off Vista del Mar will be converted to guest quarters and a storage area for beach equipment, while another portion of it will contain an elevator leading to the subterranean garage, Marengo noted.

To maintain previously conforming setbacks, the city requires that the structure retain its garage doors, although they would likely be replaced with decorative glass or redesigned to appear as French doors (a concept supported by DPR member Dianne Kane).

“I really can’t lose the doors,” Marengo said.

The project utilizes the city’s “50 percent rule,” which allows applicants certain exemptions in exchange for maintaining 50 percent or more of a building’s exterior walls during a remodel (in this case, the ability to maintain previously conforming setbacks). However, unlike some projects employing the 50 percent rule, the owner must still obtain a coastal development permit (CDP), and the project can be appealed.

The maximum height of the proposed project would be 28 feet, and a ground-level patio would extend to five feet from a wall fronting Neptune Place.

Based on drawings presented, DPR member Kane said the project appeared to replicate the pattern of tall, boxy buildings that have sprung up on Neptune Place. “You’re absolutely right,” Marengo said. “It’s a contemporary box … a glass box.”

Kane conceded that rejecting this project based on its design would be like “closing the barn door after the horses are gone.”

“It’s creating more of the same in the whole neighborhood,” she lamented. “What have we done to our community?”

Marengo said that, like La Jolla Shores, the neighborhood is a hodgepodge of zoning that allows for higher density.

Vehicle court at issue: DPR members also approved a Muirlands home rebuild at 1547 El Camino del Teatro after an issue with potential light pollution from a proposed vehicle court at the rear of the property was resolved with the neighbors.

The applicant is seeking a CDP to demolish an existing home and guest house and construct a new residence and guest quarters totalling 12,521-square-feet.

Last month, neighbors Jim and Mary Berglund said they were concerned noise and light would spill from the vehicle court to their adjacent home, located to the south. At issue was a proposed eight-foot wood fence between the parking court and the Berglund’s home. While the fence may shield car headlamps, the Berglund’s representative, La Jolla architect Phil Merten, argued it wouldn’t sufficiently block noise from car engines.

Following the review, Rollins and Merten met in private, returning with a compromise that involves constructing a wood-framed stucco wall that would better block sound, and extending the wall further along the driveway to prevent light spilling onto the Berglund’s property. The new design was noted and signed on plans by Rollins and Merten.

Vacant Shores lot development approved: Architect Taal Safdie presented plans for a single-story 3,034 square-foot home (Amitai Residence) on an environmentally sensitive, vacant lot at 2514 Ellentown Road in La Jolla Farms. DPR members unanimously recommended approval of the plans.

Cell contract renewal: DPR members considered a 10-year contract renewal request for T-Mobile’s wireless communications antennas and related equipment at Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church (6551 Soledad Mountain Road).

AT&T, Verizon and Sprint also have wireless facilities at the church. All are painted brown and located 20-25 feet above ground. The request includes the addition of two storage cabinets to a mechanical building.

A motion made to consider the preliminary project review a final one — clearing the way for its approval — failed to garner the required unanimous vote of trustees.

Kane said she would like to hear from the church as to any potential issues with the wireless communication providers, while DPR member Angeles Leira, who voted against the motion, said she would like to see a photo of the mechanical building. The applicant will return in February to present the project again.

Reservoir replacement/removal: Permit reviewers also heard the city’s plans to replace the existing 720,000-gallon La Jolla View Reservoir with a new 3.1 million gallon tank, while completely removing the Exchange Place Reservoir two blocks off Torrey Pines Road.

The reservoir’s pump station and pressure reducing station will continue in operation. Built in 1909, the 990,000-gallon Exchange Place Reservoir was placed out of service in 2002.

The roof of the new, 60-foot-deep La Jolla View Reservoir storage tank will be below existing ground level and covered with four feet of soil. Construction is expected to begin in October 2016 and be complete by April 2018.

The construction is on environmentally sensitive parklands, which include small areas of Southern Maritime Chaparral and rare plant and animal species. The environmental document explaining mitigation measures has not yet been produced.

La Jolla Parks & Beaches chair Dan Allen expressed concern for the protection of parkland, wildlife habitat and open space during construction, which will be visible from Pearl Street. Allen quoted from the La Jolla Community Plan, which states that protected open space is not to be disturbed.

The project, which also involves replacing the existing Muirlands Pipeline along Country Club Drive with larger, 30-inch pipeline, will be continued to a future DPR meeting.

Next meetings: DPR meets 4 p.m. the second and third Tuesdays at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. To view agendas and meeting minutes, visit