San Diego City Council Reverses Planning Commission – Rejects Proposed Development on Jessop Estate

by on February 10, 2015 · 0 comments

in Culture, Environment, Health, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

Pt Loma PresPL Jessop 01By a 6 to 3 vote, the San Diego City Council rejected a proposed development for the Jessop Estate in Point Loma. In doing so, the Council reversed the Planning Commission which had voted 5-1 in June 2014 to approve it.  The vote had to do with a resident’s appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval.

Dozens of Point Lomans, many part of a new group called Preserve Point Loma, attended the hearing in support of the Council’s rejection of the project.  They offered up a petition with reportedly 700 signatures of residents also opposed. Speakers from the group offered up criticism of the project which included claims that the area’s character would be damaged by the proposed subdivision, there would be an increase in fire hazards, and the project would set a dangerous precedent that would allow more dense, intensive housing projects.

Pt Loma PresPL Jessop 03The Peninsula Community Planning Board had earlier rejected the project, called The Point Loma Summit, which called for dividing the old Jessop family property two lots into four to construct 3 homes each 3,000-4,000 square feet on the nearly 1.5 acres. The property is located at 414 La Crescentia Drive.  The Summit plan would have kept the existing house – built by prominent jeweler Joseph Jessop in 1929. It’s possibly an historic house.

City staff had recommended keeping with the Planning Commission’s vote. Staff maintained that the project met or exceeded city guidelines that covered fire safety and cliffside grading.

The owner of the property, Carolyn Kutzke, reportedly has been attempted to have the property developed for several years. Attorney Robin Madaffer represented the developer, and stated:

 “This project adds three single family homes in an infill area close to the community uses and the proposed density is consistent with the allowable density.”

 Madaffer – the spouse of former Councilman Jim Madaffer – asserted that the environmentally sensitive coastal slopes would not be altered or even touched by the project; that zoning allowed two more houses that were planned; that fire safety concerns would have been mitigated by the installation of standpipes.

She also stated:

“There has been all kinds of community outreach and we just simply haven’t been able to come up with a compromise plan that works for everybody.”

Byron Wear, a former City Councilman himself, was one of the spokespeople for the Preserve PL group.  Wear argued that the project did not fit the character of the community, it did not comply with neighborhood and city land-use plans, and the project was a public safety risk as egress and ingress by fire trucks would be restricted. He said:

“In summary, the proposed Point Loma Summit development of the old Jessop estate is ill-conceived, poorly planned and inconsistent with the Peninsula Community Plan and (the city’s) general plan.”

 Former City Councilman Ed Harris also spoke out against it. He said:

 “It sets a precedent for Point Loma, it sets a precedent on how many houses can be a on a lot and it’s a slippery slope.”

 Councilwoman and President Sherri Lightner noted that excavation work would require nearly 200 dump trucks moving through the neighborhood, and that deviations to normal design guidelines requested by the developer were “not appropriate,” she said, and added:

“When you have properties this big, you shouldn’t be putting the houses 12 feet apart. I have grave concerns about public safety.”

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf stated that she would be supportive in general in development on the site, but that this proposed project sited homes in locations that she didn’t support. Zapf represents District 2, of course, where the property is located. She said:

“The greatest concern I have is where it’s being built.”

Some Council members agreed with local residents that the project would be too intense for a site with sharp slopes in a single-family residential zone about four blocks west of Rosecrans Street. As the tilt of the Council on the project became apparent, Madaffer offered to remove one of the houses from the proposed project, but it was not considered by the council.

Council members David Alvarez, Todd Gloria and Scott Sherman did not indicate support for the  proposed homes of the Project. However, both Gloria and Alvarez did not believe the Council had adequate grounds to grant the appeal.

Finally, the vote was taken. It was 6 to 3. Alvarez, Gloria and Sherman dissented.

 News sources: U-T San Diego, KPBS  and   Fox5

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