Planning group rejects Bishop's School request for variance on library height

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

After lengthy debate, La Jolla Community Planning Association trustees last week rejected a request from The Bishop’s school to allow its planned Library and Learning Center to exceed the maximum height limit by four feet.

The vote was 8-5 on a motion that findings could not be made to support a request for a variance to the limit - an issue that has been a bone of contention among community planners, many of whom felt the request violated the 30-foot height limit embraced by passage of Proposition D.

Bishop’s representatives countered at the associatoin’s Sept. 2 meeting that their library project did not violate Prop. D, as their height-limit calculations adhered to the city’s Municipal Code, which has a different standard of height measurement.

“This is not a vendetta against Bishop’s School,” said LJCPA planner David Little.

“Thirty feet is 30 feet. There is no exclusion for churches, schools or government buildings. Granting a variance would totally destroy the credibility of the CPA. If you pass this (variance), you’re going to get people (developers) lining up.”

La Jolla contractor Louis Beacham defended Bishop’s variance request.

“This is not for a development for a commercial group but for a school on its grounds which have numerous buildings that are much higher,” he said. “The request is only for a variance to make the library a functioning building.”

The school’s officials have contended that the variance is necessary because the library needs to be raised because it is in a flood plain, and because modern technology requires the library to have higher ceilings.