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Quality of Life

City Council OKs Environmental Impact Report For La Jolla Project

The San Diego City Council Monday certified the environmental impact report for a proposed La Jolla Shores mixed-use project, following two previous attempts that were rejected.

The approval, on a 6-2 vote, is a major step forward in plans by area residents Bob and Kim Whitney to demolish a pair of single-story buildings in the 2200 block of Avenida La Playa and construct a three-story building — with retail on the ground level and two condominium units above.

The proposed project was approved by the Planning Commission in 2010, but an appeal was upheld by the City Council. The Planning Commission backed the project again the next year, but the council rejected it a second time because of concerns about environmental impacts.

Since then, the developers revised their plans and conducted another environmental study, which the Planning Commission approved in April, according to a city staff report.

The La Jolla Community Planning Association, a group called La Jolla Shores Tomorrow and three individuals appealed the commission's action to the City Council, contending the project still violates neighborhood design guidelines and setting out numerous other objections.

Julie Hamilton of La Jolla Shores Tomorrow said the planned structure will be too big for the area's "1960s-70s vibe."

A more specific concern from a woman who lives adjacent to the property is a proposed 65-foot-long, 30-foot-high wall next to her residence that would block light and ventilation.

"How would you like to live in a place where the windows in your living space are facing a giant wall traversing the entire length of your home?" Myrna Naegle, who operates a ground-floor retail shop and lives on the floor above, asked rhetorically. "You would have no light. You would have no air circulation."

Robin Madaffer, an attorney representing the Whitneys, said the Planning Commission required a 15-foot-long section to be cut out of the third floor of the proposed building to address Naegle's concerns. The project was consistent with planning and zoning requirements in a neighborhood with a variety of building sizes, uses and architectural styles, she said.

Councilman Scott Sherman said he had concerns about the size of the proposed building but made the motion to approve the EIR.

"In looking down the line for reasons to try to say no to this, I don't see any way to make those findings," Sherman said.

Council President Sherri Lightner, who represents La Jolla, argued to uphold the appeal. She said the project sparked widespread community opposition, but the plans have not been significantly altered over the last four years.

She was joined in casting a dissenting vote by Councilman David Alvarez.

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