Architect Claude Anthony Marengo explained his client’s request to modify some structures on the project, which was sold to his client “as is” more than a year ago.
“It’s a mess currently now. It’s been a mess for five years, empty. We are not the original architectural firm that started this,” he said. “We picked up this lot because our client wished to purchase it, and we hope somebody buys the second one, too, so we can clean up that hill and get out of there.”
Marengo assured trustees that the proposed amendment to add guest quarters above the garage meets all building code requirements within the building envelope.
“We lowered our garage a little bit to get a studio and guest quarters in. In doing that, we ended up with a structure that met the regulations for guest quarters, which states that you need to be not be more than 21 feet in height if it’s a flat roof or 30 feet if it’s a sloped roof,” he said. “This structure from the street to the top is 18 to 19 feet tall. All the buildings around it are also two stories, averaging about 22 to 26 feet, so it is in keeping with the character of the neighborhood as you pass it in the street.”
Although Marengo assured the LJCPA that the proposed amendment complies with all building codes, a number of neighbors from across Pottery Canyon to the east addressed trustees at the meeting, questioning why the so-called “massive” structure was permitted in the first place.
“When you look from that position, that is, with respect, a massive structure. It blocks out beautiful views, it’s overpowering — and I fully understand the size of the property — but from where I am viewing it and the people around me, it’s simply ginormous,” said 20-year Caminito Bello resident Irwin Belcher. “I was amazed and astounded at how a structure like this was ever passed.”
Other neighbors encouraged trustees to recommend view studies for the project to determine if the structure does, in fact, have a significant impact on the views of those in nearby neighborhoods.
“To add additional mass, to block additional views from folks that have been here for a long, long time … is tragic to us. People have property rights. This is America, that’s fine, but I really hope that they would take into consideration that what they’ve got, they’ve got, and that’s more than enough to be adequate and compatible with the neighborhood,” said La Jolla Scenic Drive North resident Jim Kelly. “Please don’t block our views anymore.”
Marengo reminded trustees that the view from neighbors on Caminito Bello and La Jolla Scenic Drive North are private views, not dedicated public views.
“Every property that is deemed a property in San Diego has the right to build within their building envelope, and they have to meet the criteria for bulk and scale in that manner,” he said. “This project is textbook to how you would step down a slope and separate structures to meet height limit.”
Trustee Phil Merton raised several issues about technical inconsistencies with the San Diego Municipal Code, including inadequate parking and discretionary judgments that are not in conformance to the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance, such as the building’s front façade setback being inconsistent with adjacent properties in the neighborhood and disrupting the architectural unity of the neighborhood.
Trustees voted 15-1-1 to deny the permit amendment. The city hearing officer will hear the project on Feb. 20 at 8:30 a.m. in the City Administration Building, located at 202 C St.
LJCPA QUICKHITS ELECTION TIME — Nine candidates — Janie Emerson, Myrna Naegle, Helen Boyden, Bob Steck, Ray Weiss, Fran Zimmerman, Patrick Ahearn, Matt Bothwell and Gail Forbes — will vie for eight vacant trustee seats on the LJPA at next month’s election. Trustee elections will take place on March 7 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St.
HILLEL DEVELOPMENTS — The LJCPA formed a subcommittee to prepare a response to the draft environmental impact report for a requested site development permit and public row vacation for the UCSD Hillel Center for Jewish Life project. The deadline for comment submission is March 11.