Futuristic La Jolla Shores home plans nixed in legal settlement

By Pat Sherman

A group of La Jolla Shores residents have triumphed in their opposition to an ultramodern home proposed for 8490 Whale Watch Way. The house was designed by famed Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Though many said they felt the design was intriguing, residents and community advisory groups ultimately said the proposed 12,700-square-foot home was out of character with the surrounding neighborhood, and excessive in terms of bulk and scale.

Despite this opposition, the project was approved by the San Diego City Council earlier this year. A subsequent lawsuit was filed in San Diego Superior Court by the nonprofit La Jolla Shores Tomorrow (LJST) group, which sought to block the endeavor.

The lawsuit challenged the project’s compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, the San Diego Municipal Code, the La Jolla Community Plan and the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance.

As a result, the property owner submitted a letter to the city’s Development Services director, Kelly Broughton, terminating the project application.

“Personally, I liked it, but I liked it in a different location,” LJST’s attorney Julie Hamilton said. “The house was a very unusual, very modern design with some very stark materials — and that simply wasn’t compatible with the other homes in the neighborhood. It was just the wrong place for that design, which is most often the problem in La Jolla.”

LJST President Dick McCormack said he was “gratified that the dispute has been resolved amicably and without further legal action.

“I don’t want anyone to get the idea that we’re against new building, but we would like to see these things not so enormous as to overwhelm the neighborhood — and we thought this one did.”

Jeffrey Forrest, the San Diego attorney representing the property owner and developer, said the owners are not certain if they will seek an alternate design for the property.

The nonprofit La Jolla Shores Tomorrow group was established in response to the concerns of residents and business owners who wish to protect the established architectural aesthetics of La Jolla Shores from being compromised by “unrestrained development.”