Opinion: Light’s answer to height variance needs focus

By David Little

La Jolla resident

The legal description of the appeal sent to the Planning Commission by The Bishop’s School was for a variance to construct a building 32’-1” high in the coastal zone where the limit is 30 feet. The key word here is variance.

The Light’s answer in the Sept. 29 edition discussed measuring methods (on height variances), but if measuring methods were the issue, there would be no need to ask for a variance. The developer would simply create plans using the measurement method he believes is correct and submit them to the city.

Similarly your discussion relative to problems with sloped lots is superfluous since the Bishop’s Library lot is flat and again, if it were not, the developer should just use the rules for sloped lots and submit the plans without need for a variance.

Your answer provides the Municipal Code section where variance procedures can be found. The key words here “code section,” because the first line in the wording of Proposition D is “Notwithstanding any (code) section to the contrary, no building or addition to a building shall be constructed with a height in access of thirty feet within the Coastal Zone ...”

That is, since variances are contained in code sections, they cannot apply to Prop. D. So your first answer, “The 30-foot height limit pursuant to Prop. D is absolute and no variances or exceptions are allowed,” is correct. Yet a 32-foot building is being constructed. The variance inappropriately granted to The Bishop’s School was the first and only one granted in 39 years.

Apparently the new guidelines are if you have sufficient wealth and influence, you can get variances — even to the people’s referendums.