La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) opted for less, voting 13-3-2 against a revamped plan by Bob and Kim Whitney on their reintroduced, mixed-use, three-story redevelopment in La Jolla Shores.
The vote came at the LJCPA’s Dec. 5 meeting, during which the advisory group, which makes land-use recommendations to the city, also approved a controversial proposed sidewalk café in front of La Valencia Hotel by a 10-7-1 vote.
Bob and Kim Whitney, who’ve owned the property at Avenida de la Playa and Paseo Grande since 2007, want to demolish the one-story residence there and replace it with street-level retail with parking underground and condos on two levels above.
Whitney project opponents continue to contend that the project’s floor-area ratio (FAR) — the total building square footage compared to the square footage of the lot — is excessive and makes it out of scale and character with surrounding development.
This is the second go-round for the Whitney project, which in May 2011 was ordered to do a full environmental impact report by a 6-1 City Council vote.
In discussing project revisions, Tim Martin, the Whitney’s architect, challenged community planners “to find a building that’s more articulated in La Jolla than this one.”
Defending his revised development, Bob Whitney said, “It will be a wonderful addition to the area. We’ve done everything the community wanted” in terms of providing setbacks drawing the building back so it wouldn’t crowd adjacent properties.
Attorney Julie Hamilton, representing the Whitney project opposition, argued the project would be precedent-setting and should be nixed.
“If you allow this project to go forward, you will set a baseline condition for other similarly large projects on Avenida de la Playa,” Hamilton said. “It would significantly change the character of this community, which so many people have worked very hard to protect.”
La Jolla architect Michael Morton disagreed, insisting it was time for the Shores to move in a different direction development-wise.
“We’ve seen this project evolve and development in the Shores change from its 1950s building stock into an urban beach community,” he said. “It is time to let this project be approved and move on. I urge you to look ahead to future generations and let this community grow and develop, let it become what it should be.”
LJCPA secretary Helen Boyden spoke of the “creeping size” of Shores redevelopment, noting the La Jolla Shores PDO (Planned District Ordinance), which governs future development, was “established to change the course of development” (curbing it).
LJCPA trustee Patrick Ahern said the Whitney project as presently construed “complies with the rules and regulations.”
“The subtext of this meeting is anger,” said trustee Gail Forbes, pointing out building transitions can be “hell on earth” if not done right, while noting the Shores is a “very tight-knit” neighborhood and one set in its ways.
Trustee Phil Merten, an architect, said, while he felt the proposed Whitney building was “well articulated on three sides, it’s the fourth side I have a problem with.”
Merten spoke for many opposing the project, noting “It is 30-plus percent bigger than any other building in La Jolla Shores.”