Whitneys walk out of LJCPA meeting in protest

By Dave Schwab

Developers Bob and Kim Whitney walked out of La Jolla Community Planning Association’s (LJCPA’s) Sept. 1 meeting in protest of the group’s failure to appeal another controversial project in La Jolla Shores.

“That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing,” said the couple before departing, referencing a lawsuit they filed in July against the LJCPA, which has appealed previous city approval of their mixed-use, three-story project in the Shores’ commercial district.

The Whitney’s suit alleges the LJCPA illegally filed a governmental appeal of their project dated Jan. 27, 2011 following “a secret vote by several trustees in violation of the Brown Act,” according to the suit.

The Whitneys want to demolish a one-story residence and store at Avenida de la Playa and Paseo Grande in La Jolla Shores and replace it with street-level retail, underground parking and two stories of condos.

In July 2010 their project was approved by a city hearing officer, but it has since been subjected to multiple appeals, the last of which found their environmental assessment insufficient directing them to do an environmental impact report.

The couple left the meeting of LJCPA, which makes land-use recommendations to the city, after it was revealed trustees had failed to file an appeal in time with the city to challenge approval of a single-family residence at 1912 Spindrift, where parking requirements were in dispute.

With 1912 Spindrift on the agenda as an action item later in the meeting, attorney Matt Peterson representing the homeowners said a compromise agreement has been reached to resolve the project’s parking issues.

“We found a way to attach a garage, and we’re going to use a stacking lift system to satisfy the street-parking requirement,” said Peterson, whose proposal was subsequently endorsed by LJCPA trustees.

Trustee Devin Burstein, head of an LJCPA ad hoc committee reviewing group policies and procedures, said one of four recommended changes would deny automatic appeals of development projects the group opposes, requiring a favorable group vote before filing any appeal.

Consideration of another proposed change to reverse a group policy preventing conditions being attached to approval of development projects was postponed until the group’s Oct. 6 meeting.

In other matters, Cindy Thorsen was inducted as a new trustee, a street closure was approved on Upper Girard Avenue for the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival Oct. 1-2, and a proposal by trustee Joe LaCava to allow donations to LJCPA through the La Jolla Town Council Foundation failed by a 5-8-1 vote.