Permit rules get LJCPA attention

A new slate of officers was elected, bylaws changes were adopted and a thorny land-use issue regarding coastal permit exemptions were addressed at La Jolla Community Planning Association’s (LJCPA’s) March meeting last week.

It was the annual meeting of the advisory group, which makes recommendations to the city on land-use issues. A total of 180 eligible voters cast ballots between 3 and 7 p.m. March 5 at La Jolla Rec Center, choosing among 10 candidates running for six, three-year term LJCPA trustee positions.

The top vote-getters and their totals were: Tom Brady, 132; Greg Salmon, 120; Michelle Addington, 113; Dan Courtney, 109; Nancy Anne Manno, 108; and Phil Merten, 97.

Changing rules

The six new trustees will be seated at the group’s next meeting Thursday, April 2.

The issue that drew the most attention - and debate - was a proposed change in the Land Development Code.

It calls for new language that exempts projects from a Coastal Development Permit, and public review, if they don’t exceed 90 percent of allowed height and 90 percent of allowed Floor Area Ratio, and if the second story is no more than 40 percent of the floor area.

Dan Joyce, San Diego senior planner, gave a brief presentation on the proposal that he said was designed to encourage the building of smaller-size homes on existing lots in single-family neighborhoods.

Those applying for remodels would be allowed to forego the community development review process if their plans meet the new height and floor area standards, he said.

He added that the proposed exemption would not apply to sensitive lands, hillsides or other similar areas with habitat encroachment.

Time to study

The proposal Joyce explained got a cool reception from planning association members.

“I think the categorical exemption could be a good thing,” said member Toni Crisafi, an architect. “But we haven’t given our input, recently enough, at the community level.”

“The primary issue is compliance with the provisions of the La Jolla Community Plan,” said fellow board member and architect Phil Merten. “When a project does not go through discretionary review, then there’s no compliance with the La Jolla Community Plan and the community then loses control over the direction and manner in which our community redevelops.”

LJCPA secretary Darcy Ashley concurred that more, rather than fewer, housing projects in the community should undergo discretionary public review.

“Only about 25 percent of the projects get a Conditional Use Permit,” she said, “so we’re only seeing one-quarter of them as it is.”

After more than an hour of debate, member Dan Courtney said the exemption needed further review and moved that the matter be referred to the LJCPA’s Conditional Use Permit subcommitte for further study. That subcommittee meets next on March 17 and April 14.