Whitneys’ project gets mixed reaction, rejection from Shores Association board


Kim Whitney spent a lot of time last week, refuting each point brought up by those who have warned that her family’s three-story project would cause the “Los Angelization” of La Jolla Shores.

“There are some misconceptions about our project and misstatements that have been circulating,” she said, countering arguments presented by financier Vaughn Woods and architect Phil Merten that the project is so different that it would “disrupt the architectural unity” of the area.

In the end, she and architect Tim Martin were unable to persuade the La Jolla Shores Association board members, who voted 4-5-2 against the project.

Kim and Bob Whitney have been working for months to get their plans through the various community groups that must review it before they can seek city approval. They want to demolish a single-story structure on the two lots at 2202 and 2206 Avenida De La Playa and replace it with a three-story structure with retail, condos and underground parking.

The reasons board members gave for their votes were as varied as the arguments presented by the two sides.

New member Debra Rappaport Rosen, who made the motion to approve the plans, took one side: “Avenida de la Playa (business district) has a lot of (architectural) diversity — it’s not all the same,” she noted. “It’s dangerous to make the Whitney project a sacrificial lamb. I would hate to see this project punished because people are worried about future development. You can’t vote on what will be.”

Advisory group secretary Pat Nissan had a different take: “I moved here because I love the funky old buildings,” she said. “This doesn’t look like the kind of building I want to walk past every morning. It’s quality of life versus having a beautiful structure.”

And then there was Barry Graceman, who abstained: “I have problems voting either way,” adding that as chair of La Jolla Shore’s long-range vision committee which is trying to figure out a new plan to guide the community’s future development, that it would be premature for him to vote on the Whitney’s “visionary” project.

— Dave Schwab