La Jolla permit reviewers laud retooled WindanSea plans

DPR group bemoans another Bird Rock box during preliminary review

Members of La Jolla’s Development Permit Review (DPR) committee have given thumbs up to a home remodel and second-story addition at 6715 Neptune Place, which wold transform one of the few remaining one-story homes on the oceanfront block.

The project includes a six-space subterranean garage accessed via an automobile lift, Jacuzzi and raised front yard deck.

Project designer Claude-Anthony Marengo of Marengo Morton Architects first presented the project in January, during which one committee member, Diane Kane, lamented that its design was more of the same, boxy, unsightly structures that have sprouted up on Neptune Place.

However, During the Feb. 17 DPR meeting Kane and other committee members praised changes to the project design that softened its appearance and incorporated some of their suggestions.

The solid “modern glass box” concept presented in January was reworked into a more contemporary design, with a slightly lower elevation, sloped roofs and Cape Cod-inspired aesthetic touches, including white-washed brick, white stained siding, brown metal roofing and planters fronting unused garage doors at the rear of the property. Grass was also added to an area near the front deck, while a rooftop deck was removed from plans.

“I appreciate the fact that you took some of our criticisms and worked with them,” Kane told Marengo. “This is a significant improvement. That’s what this committee is here for, to make sure that new projects fit comfortably into an existing context.”

Committee member Matthew Welsh said he appreciated the project being stepped back further at several points from what was previously presented.

Community member Ed Comartin said that, amid the drastic architectural changes that have occurred on Neptune Place, he likes how the new project appears to retain some of the feeling of the existing home.

“It’s 10 times better than what you presented last time,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve seen anyone come back with a radical change to something (based on) the input that they (received from an advisory group). … I’ll give you credit for that.”

A motion to support permits for the project made by DPR member Jim Ragsdale and seconded by Bob Collins passed by a vote of 6-0-1.

Additional DPR discussions

5664 Abalone Place: Conversely, during its Feb. 10 and 17 meetings DPR members were less than pleased with a project at the corner of Abalone Place and Bird Rock Avenue. Project architect Scot Frontis is pursuing a coastal development permit to demolish an existing one-story home and build a 3,101 square-foot, two-story home at 5664 Abalone Place via the city’s Sustainable Buildings Expedite Program.

Exterior design elements of the modern home include titanium fascias and composite wood paneling known as Prodema that Ragsdale said didn’t fit in well with the neighborhood.

Several residents and DPR members argued they weren’t getting a clear enough picture of how the home fit in with the character of the neighborhood. The loss of one-story homes that once defined Bird Rock to make way for boxy, tall structures often built close to the property line was again lamented.

Comartin suggested the committee send a message by denying the project. “These homes are setting a precedence,” he said.

DPR member and Bird Rock resident Mike Costello said his neighbors continue to bend his ear about the proliferation of large square homes in their community.

Kane said ocean views in Bird Rock are being sacrificed, adding Bird Rock seems to be “going the way of Neptune Place, one building at a time.”

“I would work with the materials and the massing … and see if there’s something that can be done to soften it,” she said. “It’s not quite there yet.”

DPR member Robert Mapes said he felt some “well-placed vegetation” might soften the appearance of the project, while Ragsdale agreed there should be “a fairly easy way to fix this.”

Frontis opted to return to a future DPR meeting after making some possible changes.

6752-6762 Tyrian St.: DPR members were also not satisfied with a residential project proposed for 6752-6762 Tyrian Street in WindanSea. The project is located behind an addition to the three-story Holiday Inn Express on La Jolla Boulevard that is under construction, and a block from the La Jolla Community Center.

The applicants are seeking coastal and site development permits, as well as deviations, to construct a 1,461 square-foot home, and to remodel and add 762 square feet to an existing residence. A potentially historic home at the site would remain untouched for a total of three residential condominiums.

The contemporary design calls for two stories above a subterranean garage.

Marengo, who previously proposed building a duplex on the site, commended the applicants for reducing its impact by breaking it up into several buildings, though Comartin said he felt the white stucco with dark wood trim popped out too much.

“If you look at the homes in the area and even the bigger places behind it ... they’re more of a lighter texture,” he said. “It’s just really too heavy.”

The structure that will remain unscathed is under review by the city’s Historical Resources Board (HRB). Although the applicant said city staff has determined the home is not historic, Kane disagreed, saying HRB itself is the actual arbiter and must make that determination.

Kane said the project design was not in context with “a tiny neighborhood that has historic homes.”

In the end, the applicant opted to present the project again at a future DPR meeting.

Other DPR motions: The DPR voted in favor of the city’s plans to demolish the existing La Jolla View and Exchange Place reservoirs, and construct a new, larger reservoir at the site of existing La Jolla View Reservoir. The committee also approved a 10-year permit renewal for T-Mobile to operate cell phone antennas and related wireless communications equipment at Mt. Soledad Presbyterian Church.