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Shedding some light on a better building design

Much discussion has taken place over the last several months regarding allowing three stories and upgrading the floor area ratio to 1.7. We would like to set the record straight.

  1. Our proposal removes the two-story limitation on commercial zones in La Jolla. Currently, there is a 30-foot height limit. Our proposal does not propose to change or exceed the existing height limit. You can build up to 30 feet now, with two stories or with three. We believe three stories allows for a better building design.
  2. The increase in floor area ratio is not an increase in the density. The current density for residences is 29 dwelling units per acre. It will not change in our proposal. What we are proposing is to create an incentive for those residential units to be built, which have not yet been built, between 200 and 400. Remember, La Jolla has a population of 30,000.

Why? Because some merchant cores in La Jolla need help, and San Diego is in desperate need of new homes.

  1. Three stories allows for better building designs that can be set back from the street and alley. The square footage can go to usable space and not get wasted on covered parking. With a higher floor area ratio, owners can afford to move parking underground.
  2. With the development fees charged for new projects, the community can fund improvements the city should have but has not provided. These development improvements can include water and sewer upgrades, safer street crossings, better lighting at intersections, landscaping, level sidewalks, paved alleys, etc.
  3. If the residential units that have not yet been built can be built, more merchants can live and work in the same block and will not have to drive 20 miles to work.
  4. Small businesses will be able to purchase parking spaces from larger businesses so they can build a loft above their shop or expand and improve their business.
  5. If more residential units are built, merchants will have more customers and more exposure. Struggling businesses will be more resilient.

Mark Lyon is an architect in La Jolla.