An infill development has touched off a land-use controversy over zoning in Pacific Beach’s Crown Point neighborhood.
At issue is a project at 4033 and 4039 Lamont St. proposing a three-story mixed-use building with 18 residential units and ground floor commercial. The project includes two affordable dwelling units.
A neighbor, Andre Desjardins, has disputed the project’s legality, claiming it is not allowed under current zoning for that site. He contends the project is also out of character with the surrounding neighborhood.
“There are no pure commercial uses located anywhere on Lamont Street, south of Grand Avenue,”
said Desjardins. “This is a residential neighborhood, plain and simple. The proposed pure commercial and/or office component of the project does not solve any unmet need in the immediate area.
“Home office use is already allowed in the underlying zone. Perhaps a better use of the space contained in the two commercial suites (proposed) would be some form of amenities for the larger project.”
Added Desjardins: “The project has all nearby residents very concerned about the negative implications of introducing a ‘commercial land use’ in a 100 percent residential area. I am in favor of increasing the housing stock in PB. I am not opposed to the development of new housing units.
“However, I am (and many others are) opposed to putting commercial uses in purely residential areas – community plans and zoning laws exist for a reason – and this project seeks to circumvent the PB Community Plan and existing residential zoning.”
“The reality is this is a pair of 300-foot commercial suites, and there’s not much else you can do with them other than put in professional offices,” said project architect Tim Golba. “In the RM-2-5 zone, which this site is, mixed-use is currently allowed by right. For the Paull project, we are using a development incentive not to ‘add’ commercial.
“Rather, we used an incentive to ‘expand’ the rather limited uses allowed for commercial by right in the RM2-5 zone, so that they would be more neighborhood-serving. That expansion through the incentive will allow professional offices such as accountants, artisans, massage therapy, consultation, and anything along that line, whereas the base zoning allows limited offices and instructional studios by right.”
Added Golba: “My clients are a family who loves Crown Point, not some Vegas developer or a local entrepreneur. We could have done 21 units by right, but we chose to do 18, which fit more with the property and the proposed design on the site. We’re not rezoning the property, it’s already allowed by right.
“All we’re trying to do is provide a viable alternative. The PB Planning Group picked up on that. They said, ‘This is a great idea. Someone could rent there, use the commercial suite downstairs, and never even need a car, which is what the City is pushing.’”
Desjardins disputes Golba’s take on allowable commercial uses for the Lamont Street infill site. He claims the project opens the door for a plethora of possible uses.
“The only ‘by right’ allowed quasi-commercial use is ‘instruction studios,’” contends Desjardins. “Office uses are not allowed. The commercial uses allowed under this zone include retail sales, eating and drinking establishments, financial institutions, maintenance and repair facilities, general and medical offices, vehicle sales and rentals, research and development, and vocational schools. These uses are detrimental to the character of the immediate residential area.”
“This is not a Vegas developer or someone proposing a Walmart,” countered Golba.
PB planners approved the proposed infill development by an 11-1 margin. The project is appealable to the City Planning Commission.
A video on the proposed project can be viewed at youtube.com/watch?v=Nk44ipEudAo&t=1487s.