La Jolla neighbors upset with condo project on Torrey Pines Road

By Pat Sherman

After more than a decade in development — involving several owners and abandoned design plans — 27 luxury townhomes are now under construction at 2402 Torrey Pines Road (former site of the 50-room Andrea Villa Inn, near The Throat intersection in La Jolla Shores).

Bette Biddulph-Smith, a resident at the adjacent Del Charro Woods condo complex on Torrey Pines, said she was happy to see “that old, ugly motel” redeveloped, but isn’t pleased with Lennar Homes’ construction crew parking work vehicles on the sidewalk and in the bike lane on weekends, or noise from metal trench plates workers installed in Torrey Pines Road that she said also create safety issues for motorists.

Biddulph-Smith said a motorcyclist hit the raised edge of a plate and was thrown from his vehicle earlier this month. When cars drive over the plates, she said, it sends an unnerving reverberation through her condo.

Biddulph-Smith said a foreman at the site told her workers would remove the plates and repave the roadway several weeks ago, though that has not happened.

“They said no problem, San Diego Gas and Electric will be out Monday or Tuesday (to sign off on our work), then we’re going to fix the street and everything will be fine,’” said Biddulph-Smith, who also claims police told a foreman at the site to move the construction fence back from the sidewalk to prevent blocking the view of traffic as Del Charro residents turn onto Torrey Pines (which she also said has not happened).

According to SDG&E Communications Manager Hanan Eisenman, Lennar crews were trenching the street to connect Ziani’s gas lines to an SDG&E main beneath the street. However, SDG&E will not connect the lines because the developer hasn’t yet provided a map of their completed project informing the SDG&E of the location of all gas lines for “safety and reliability.” The maps are required as part of the state’s “call before you dig” program, which maps all utility lines to prevent damage from future construction and assure public safety.

“As soon as the customer delivers the map we’re ready to go” and Lennar can repave the street, Eisenman said.

Architect Marvin Cohen has lived at Del Charro Woods since 1977, shortly after it was redeveloped (it is the site of the former Del Charro Hotel, once a summer vacation spot for the late FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover).

Since 2004, Cohen and other neighbors have objected to various redevelopment plans for 2402 Torrey Pines. Although he called Lennar a “reputable builder” and said he is happy to see work progressing, Cohen said he’s not happy with the density of the project under construction on a little more than one acre, which he said will create a “40-foot wall” facing Del Charro. In addition, the rear of the project may rise above 30-feet high from the street, due to the slope of the land, blocking views, he said.

“This is moving ahead much to the objection of a lot of people at Del Charro Woods,” Cohen said. “I wish them a lot of luck because they have had some very serious soil problems. … I just think they’re building the wrong thing, and I’m amazed that the city council approved it.”

Cohen said he also approached the city’s transportation department about concerns over additional traffic emptying onto what the city itself has deemed one of the busiest intersections in San Diego. He feels traffic lights at the intersection should be synchronized accordingly to avoid “an enormous traffic problem.”

In 2010, Cohen was one of several residents at Del Charro and The Sandpiper complex (2420 Torrey Pines Road) opposed to a previous plan to develop the site as 50 condominiums (Palazzo Project).

Questions posed to Lennar Homes project supervisors and a public relations manager were not returned by press time.