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Planners debate Prospect project

La Jolla Community Planning Association trustees last week deadlocked over a controversial proposal to convert an existing office building at 484 Prospect St. into a residential care facility for the memory impaired.

Calling out developers on a plethora of operational issues, questioning the adequacy of everything from laundry facilities and parking to staffing and security, they voted 6-5 to postpone final consideration until Feb. 4.

The developer wants to modify the existing 17,838-square-foot, three-story building, built in 1925, to house up to 56 residents — the majority of whom would be Alzheimer’s patients — in an extended-care, state-licensed facility. A conditional use permit is required since the facility would be a change of use for the building.

“It’s a residential care facility for the elderly,” said Diana Scheffler of James Alcorn & Associates Architects, representing the developers. She described the project as assisted living for those needing help with daily living skills.

“This is not a medical facility,” she added.

Scheffler noted the residential care facility would have private bedrooms without kitchens and residents would eat in a common dining room.

The developers have attended several advisory group meetings and met with neighbors of the nearby 464 Prospect upscale villa complex to address concerns about potential impacts involving traffic, noise, parking and terms of operation.

At the outset of the Jan. 7 planning association meeting, Scheffler addressed, one at a time, a laundry list of concerns aired by neighbors and community planners.

Scheffler described pedestrian access to a parking garage that would be shared with the neighbors at 464 Prospect as a “thorny” issue, while noting the staff would only take up 10 percent of parking in the structure.

Following the meeting, Trustee Darcy Ashley said she felt the group had gotten unduly wrapped up with details of facility operations and private negotiations between developers and neighbors.

“The planning association cannot be all things to all people,” she said. “It’s not our task to be liaison for state licensing. The shared parking agreement is also a private matter, not a public concern. Our domain is land use and how that impacts parking and other issues of concern to the community.”

Several 464 Prospect condo residents attending said progress had been made with developers in addressing their concerns, but the general consensus was more time was still needed to iron out the details.

To find out what Sherri Lightner said at the meeting, click here.