La Jolla’s Development Permit Review group considers array of housing projects
By Pat ShermanDuring the July 15 meeting of the Development Permit Review (DPR) committee — which analyses all discretionary permits in La Jolla (outside the Shores) and submits recommendations to the La Jolla Community Planning Association to be ratified and sent to the city — the group considered the addition of two companion units (“granny flats”) for a property in the La Jolla Mesa subdivision (perched above Bird Rock).
The applicant is seeking coastal and site development permits and a lot line adjustment to build the units, plus a deck, staircase, swimming pool/spa and pergola on adjoining properties at 901 and 911 Skylark Drive.
During a final review of the project, DPR members and neighbors discussed hillside drainage issues related to the project at length. During a previous review, DPR members requested a drainage study and measures to control the impact of storm runoff on homes downhill.
Civil engineer Mark Farrington said basins would be installed beneath each proposed patio, staggering the water-flow during the first 48 hours after a storm, treating it and discharging it onto the slopes.
“We’re required to reduce the flows, treat the flows and direct them in a responsible manner,” Farrington said. “We tried to design these so that they would be projecting out at a direction that would not be directly impacting anybody’s house.”
The property owner, Antonio Sacido, said he wants to construct the patios and companion units for his wedding, but does not plan to hold other events there or rent the units, converting them to office space and/or a gym after his nuptials.
“The rumor has been running around — because we haven’t gotten any communication — that these are being built as summer rentals and party houses,” Sandpiper Place resident Bill Mitchell said.
“Why are you saying they are going to be rentals?” Sacido countered. “I will never rent this out — is that what you want me to say?”
DPR member Angeles Liera said the best way to assure the units will not be rented is to remove the kitchen at 911 Skylark. The existence of a kitchen is how the city defines a space as habitable. Plans for the companion unit at 901 Skylark include only a sink and refrigerator, which the city does not classify as a kitchen.
City code states that before a building permit may be issued for a companion unit, the property owner shall enter into an agreement with the city — approved by the city attorney — stating that neither the primary residence or companion unit may be sold or conveyed separately; and that the property owner will reside in the main residence or the habitable companion unit.
DPR members discussed the need for additional parking to prevent a bottleneck on the cul de sac where the home is located and surrounding streets, particularly in the event more large events are held there, or if the units are eventually rented, which, despite Sacido’s professed intent, city ordinances allow, it was noted.
Neighbor Eileen Hyslop, who chairs an architectural jury of the La Jolla Mesa Vista Homeowners Association (HOA), said she did not learn about the companion units until July 13. She said they are prohibited per her HOA’s covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R).
In a letter to Hyslop, La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) board president Joe LaCava said the DPR and LJCPA “can’t consider private restrictions or agreements (such as CC&Rs), only whether a project conforms to the La Jolla Community Plan and City of San Diego Municipal Code.”
DPR member Mike Costello noted HOAs may file lawsuits to enforce their restrictions, potentially having more recourse than the city or a planning group. “You have the force of the law and a contract behind you,” he told HOA members in attendance.
Sacido said he held an open house for neighbors immediately adjacent his two properties to discuss the companion units, adding that La Jolla Mesa’s CC&Rs only require him to submit plans to the architectural jury when he is seeking a building permit, not a discretionary permit.
“Once I get the approval for a discretionary permit and I want to apply for a building permit, then I have to go through the homeowner association,” he said.
Although CC&Rs aren’t within the purview of the DPR, Liera suggested that applicants in such situations first communicate with their HOA before beginning the discretionary review process with the city. “Life will be much easier on you,” she said.
Costello suggested the applicant return to DPR (most likely in August) to deal with parking and provide proof of his signed, city attorney-approved habitation agreement.
In other DPR discussions
Hillside Soledad home: The DPR considered a preliminary review of Golba Architecture’s plans to build a two-story, 4,843-square-foot home above a basement-level living area with 2,491 square feet of deck and a swimming pool and spa on a vacant parcel at 1994 Via Casa Alta (west of the Mt. Soledad cross).
The home would be built on an environmentally sensitive hillside, with the pool on the lower level and a concrete wall encasing the deck. The project would be 37 feet tall from its lowest elevation.
Sasha Varone of Golba Architecture said the city has “signed off” on the majority of the project, and just began preparing an environmental document for it. She said the home’s square footage and bulk is less than the average home on the street.
The home will have a three-foot setback (instead of the allowed six feet), so that it doesn’t encroach too far into the hillside, she said.
The applicant will return to the DPR for a final review in August, pending completion of the city’s environmental document. The applicant is seeking to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification for the home.
Height meets history: The DPR offered a courtesy review for a proposal to construct a 74-square-foot addition to a one-story home at 335 Dunemere Drive, plus a 647-square-foot, two-story addition with two decks, blocks from the coast.
Architect Ron Despojado said the project wouldn’t block the view of the ocean down Dunemere, although neighbor James Geiger said it would block the view of the ocean from his home, and asked that DPR members and the applicant take this into consideration.
Monte Vista Avenue resident Julie Hatch said she felt it was “a shame” to obstruct Geiger’s view when the couple requesting the addition only lives in the home part of the year.
Despojado said that although he understands those concerns, private views are not protected, only public views. Despojado said he is meeting with a city historian to assess whether the property is considered historic, and how that might affect his client’s plans.
Liera, who also sits on the La Jolla Historical Society’s Preservation Committee, suggested the architect consult that committee in the near future.
“I think you’re generally on the right track from what I’ve seen,” she said.
Further west, a representative for La Jollans’
Mitt and Ann Romneyconfirmed that construction on their new home at 311 Dunemere Drive should begin within the next two to three weeks.
An estate divided?Another project scheduled for a courtesy review was postponed because the applicant did not attend the meeting.
The David Copley Trust is seeking a coastal development permit and tentative parcel map to divvy up the sprawling “Foxhole” estate at Virginia Way and Ivanhoe Avenue, owned by former
San Diego Union-TribunePublisher David Copley until his death in 2012.
The applicant is seeking a coastal development permit to consolidate eight separate lots on which the mansion is situated, then divide the land into two lots (of 14,643 and 13,523 square feet) — demolishing 174 square feet from the existing residence to create two, single-family residences from the existing one.
“It’s just removing that connecting chunk of house” and creating a new lot line, City of San Diego development project manager Michelle Sokolowski said, adding that city staff is evaluating preliminary plans and providing comments. The property has not sold since it went on the market in spring 2013 for $7.95 million. The
Lightwill report on the project as it makes its way through the discretionary review process.