Residents drop opposition to Bird Rock home remodel

By Pat Sherman

Residents in south Bird Rock rescinded their opposition to a home remodel and expansion at 615 Wrelton Drive (near Tourmaline Surf Park), following a June 12 California Coastal Commission (CCC) hearing in Huntington Beach, during which the commission unanimously approved the the plans.

The project, approved by the City of San Diego’s Planning Commission last year, was later appealed to the CCC. In August 2013 the La Jolla Community Planning Association rejected the remodel plans.

Attorney Julie Hamilton, representing the group La Jollans for Neighborhood Preservation, said her client dropped their opposition this month based on an “in-depth” CCC report that considered all sides of the issue and established mitigation measures acceptable to both sides — including shifting the second story of the home considerably to the east, and out of the view corridor (looking west down Wrelton Drive from La Jolla Boulevard). San Diego’s Local Coastal Program identifies Wrelton Drive as a scenic overlook.

Hamilton said the homeowner was also asked to remove some trees in front that block the view.

The owner also agreed to conditions regarding existing retaining walls (illegally constructed in the rear yard by a previous owner without required grading permits). The owner agreed to conduct an environmental analysis considering the impacts of removing the walls and replacing them, she said.

“I think everybody came out ahead on this one,” Hamilton said.

Attorney Matt Peterson, who represented homeowner Don Henely, said he worked with CCC staff, Henely, and Marengo Morton Architects on design modifications that comply with the La Jolla Community Plan Local Coastal Program to create new public views of the ocean down Wrelton Drive (which he said involve the removal of two mature palm trees).

“It’s kind of tragic to lose big mature palm trees but the CCC and the community plan do (allow it) when you can open up community views,” Peterson said.

More than 20 residents voiced opposition to the project during a meeting of the La Jolla Community Planning Association in August 2013, based on the home’s prior use for short-term rentals, and fears that it will continue to be used as such.

However, Peterson said his client “wants to build his house for his family, and told all his neighbors that was his intention.” Peterson said he believes his client plans to live in the home year-round, following construction, although was not entirely certain.