La Jolla DPR rejects Valencia’s sidewalk café due to pedestrian issues

By Ashley Mackin

Plans for the proposed sidewalk café at the soon-to-be expanded Café La Rue (once home to The Whaling Bar) at La Valencia Hotel, underwent a second review by the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee (DPR) at its November meeting. And then members voted the plans down.

The project requires a neighborhood-use permit for the 198-square-foot sidewalk cafe at 1132 Prospect St., located in Zone 1 of the La Jolla Planned District.

As reported in La Jolla Light, the Planned District Ordinance committee approved the project in October, but when presented to DPR, members voiced concerns. At issue were repaving the entire area so a more continuous appearance would be provided; installing rounded angles at the railing corners; presenting a more detailed elevation of the walk, the railing, and the south elevation of the building; and providing more detailed information on a palm tree location.

DPR members were also worried about the possibility of a bottleneck around the sidewalk café for pedestrian traffic.

La Valencia representatives returned to DPR on Nov. 18 with modifications to the sidewalk café, seeking its approval before presenting the project to the Community Planning Association on Dec. 5. La Valencia hopes to open the café in December.

Though each concern was individually addressed — with the exception of the rounded railing, which La Valencia decided not to change — DPR members voted not to approve findings for a Neighborhood Use Permit as presented. Member Diane Kane, although voting for the necessary permit, said she was “on the fence,” and hoped it would ultimately be voted down.

“I think there is way too much going on in that location and this is adding to it,” she said. “We are losing more and more public realm to private uses, and that spot is really a critical bottleneck, so I think there are safety issues and pedestrian issues. There is just not enough room on that sidewalk for all the stuff people want to do there.”

Representatives for the project said they would next proceed to the CPA, despite the “no” vote from the DPR. La Valencia Hotel representative Carey Algaze polled those who voted against the plans to understand their reasoning so she could address those concerns at the CPA meeting.

In other DPR news:

■ The Reserve Project Plans to develop a four-lot subdivision with three estate-home lots and one open-space lot at 6850 Country Club Drive (aka The Reserve Project) were back before the DPR for final approval.

The DPR committee has reviewed the project twice, visited the site in 2012, and based on its observations, expressed concerns about height, view impacts, runoff and fencing options.

Project representatives presented updated plans, and cited La Jolla design standards as the basis for their choices of color, height and building materials. However, some DPR members said they didn’t have the chance to review the design standards in the parts applicable to the project, and needed more time before they could approve the project.

The DPR voted that findings could not be made for the necessary permits, but invited project representatives to their next meeting, when they’ve had more time to verify design standards. DPR Chair Paul Benton said project representatives have the option of returning to DPR or proceeding to the CPA.

■ 6767 Neptune Place One project that did garner DPR

approval was the residential apartment complex located at 6767 Neptune Place. Benton said the applicant was “very responsive,” and changed the proposed bright white exterior to muted colors, and recessed the balcony, per DPR requests.

— The DPR committee meets at 4 p.m. the second and third Tuesday of the month, at the La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.