Planning Association approves Farms’ home plan amid protests

By Dave Schwab

Overriding some neighbors’ objections that public ocean views would be compromised, La Jolla Community Planning Associaton (LJCPA) endorsed the Encore Trust home redevelopment project in La Jolla Farms.

The March 1 vote by the advisory group, which makes land-use recommendations to the city, was 8 for the project, 3 against and 3 abstentions.

The association determined the project conformed to local planning regulations and findings could be made for required permits.

Review of this project was noteworthy in that it pitted two LJCPA trustees, current group president Tony Crisafi and immediate past president Joe LaCava, against one another in representing opposing sides, requiring both to recuse themselves from voting.

LaCava is representing project applicants Marty and Michelle Weinberg who said they want to redevelop the vacant, 1.52-acre site at 9872 La Jolla Farms Road into their “dream home.”

Crisafi is representing neighbors opposed to the Weinberg’s proposed plan, claiming it wrongfully — and irreversibly — impinges on public ocean views. Neighbors engaged Crisafi to devise and present a counter-proposal for the Weinberg home design, calling for “sinking it” deeper into the site to reduce its visibility.

Opponents also presented a petition signed by 62 residents in the Farms neighborhood against the project.

Project review was also unusual in that the applicants, both Marty and Michelle Weinberg, defended their home project personally before LJCPA trustees.

“Our house was designed very carefully to fit into the topography,” said Michelle Weinberg. “I respect that the public needs to have views. But we’re entitled to some kind of view of our own, and if you drop the house down – there would be no view at all.”

Marty Weinberg said his family has made extraordinary concessions to appease neighbors’ concerns. “They told us they wanted us to modify our home in many different ways and we did: a 25 percent reduction in its size, removal of a guest house, preservation of a 50-foot view corridor on the side of the house, and dedication of a public trail leading down to the beach,” he said.

Attorney Evelyn Heidelberg, speaking for neighbors opposed to Weinberg’s plans, argued the project as presently construed violates La Jolla’s community plan because its encroachment into public views does not “protect or enhance them” as intended.

LJCPA trustee Phil Merten, an architect, countered that that provision in the La Jolla Community Plan, if taken literally, would not allow any development. He said public thorougfares in the Farms neighborhood all overlook private property, which obscures views to some extent.

Trustee Mike Costello disagreed saying public views are “precious and should be protected.”

Trustee Nancy Manno concurred with the majority saying, ”we cannot impose our design opinions,” on applicants. But she urged them to “be more sensitive to your neighbors: I lived in a house that had magnificent views that were lost because a neighbor built while we were away.”