Whitney project wrong for La Jolla Shores


Fritz Liebhardt

La Jolla resident

La Jolla Shores is a community developed with a fabric of common need and use. It has taken years of community input and struggle to obtain the current ambience. The Whitney project is not cut from the same cloth and does not add to the village character. The Whitney project creates a different feel and context and is more urban and metropolitan than the vicinity.

Following the business district west along Avenida de la Playa from the intersection at La Jolla Shores Drive to its termination at Camino del Sol, there are 13 corner parcels.

Currently, there are seven two-story structures and six one-story or less structures on these corner lots. The general configuration at the corners is a composition of low-rising, stepped-back-from-the-sidewalk edifices creating an open visual environment. The Whitney project would be the first and only three-story element introduced into the setting. The height and bulk of the proposed building would create a direct contrast to the openness of the surrounding area corners.

The proposed design utilizes architecturally out-of-scale-and-context arches which are claimed as homage to the popular Irving Gill architecture. This is nothing more than an overused developer’s gimmick. Poorly designed and executed imitations of Gill’s empathetic designs exist around La Jolla, most created in an effort to influence and sway decision-makers. This mimicry is more mockery than honor — Mr. Gill had more sense than to impose an out-of-context, oversized structure on a tiny lot.

In the years to come, redevelopment will occur in La Jolla Shores. Now is the time to set the bar and create the scale on which future projects will be marked. To allow deviation from the village atmosphere today will sanction the destruction of the village ambience in the future.

The permit approval being sought is a discretionary decision that should be based on the desires of the community to maintain the current neighborhood character. A simple concurrence with UBC or zoning code ordinances that do not take into account the discretion of the decision-maker is not sufficient to grant approval. The decision-maker must positively infer and affirm that the proposed project complies with section 1510.0101 of the La Jolla Shores Precise Plan.