Project Review

Background

La Jolla does not have an architectural committee nor a design review committee; instead, we work closely with the City of San Diego and its application processes.

If the City’s Municipal Code allows your private project under Process 1 (simple building permit) then the LJCPA has no involvement. However, we do encourage you to work with your neighbors as well as the Homeowners Association (if any). The exception is sign permits or facade changes in the Village or the Bird Rock merchant district (see below).

If the City’s Municipal Codes requires you to apply for a discretionary permit (Coastal Development Permit (CDP), Site Development Permit (SDP), Conditional Use Permit (CUP), Tentative Map (TM), etc), then the LJCPA is empowered by the City to review the project and offer its recommendation. This review is done in an open public forum.

Starting the Community Review

The LJCPA requires applicants to first make their application to the City of San Diego. Once the City deems the application complete that is the time to approach the LJCPA. Specifically the LJCPA and its subcommittees require the following to be complete before review can begin.

  • The site has been posted.
  • The Notice of Application has been mailed out.
  • The LJCPA has received the first set of City comments.

The City and your assigned City Project Manager will guide you on these items.

Once all three have been completed the project can be scheduled for hearing at the appropriate subcommittee.

Keep in mind that committees have a fixed meeting schedule and typically need 1 to 2 weeks advance notice to place your project on the agenda. The days of simply showing up at a meeting unannounced or on short notice are long gone.

LJCPA and its Joint Community Committees and Boards

The LJCPA relies on its Joint Community Committees and Boards for the first level of review. As noted in the Project Review Flowchart which committee or board you need to attend depends on the nature and location of your project.

  • Planned District Ordinance Committee (PDO)
    Facade renovations, signs, change of use, sidewalk cafes within the La Jolla Planned District
  • Traffic & Transportation Board (T&T)
    All public street changes (striping, time-limit parking, stop signs, street vacations, traffic calming, etc.)
  • La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC)
    All permit applications (CDP, SDP, TM, etc) in La Jolla Shores
  • Development Permit Review Committee (DPR)
    All permit applications (CDP, SDP, TM, etc) in the rest of La Jolla.

Presenting Your Project

Simply put, you need to present all information that is required by the City. Each applicant has their own opinion when to come before the subcommittee. Some opt to come as soon as they have the first set of City comments, others opt to go through 2 or more rounds of city comments before presenting. The choice is yours. Keep in mind that the plans you present for community review must be the same as have been submitted to the city.

PDO, PRC, and DPR each meet in a 12′ x 15′ room with 8 to 11 committee members offering an intimate less formal setting. Use of standard architectural drawings is typically adequate for display purposes. Members typically have not seen the plans before the meeting and may not know where the property is located. Both PRC and DPR typically require presentation at two meetings, the first informational, the second for decision. Either group can choose to approve a project with only one meeting if the project is non-controversial and fully complies with the city’s regulations and the community plan. Meetings are open to the public
and the committees encourage neighbors to participate in the discussion.

If you need to present before the full LJCPA a different approach may be required. LJCPA has 18 trustees and meets in a larger room (30′x40′). The process is necessarily more formal. There are typically 10 to 30 members of the public in attendance as well. Accordingly, display of architectural drawings can make it difficult for the trustees to understand the project. Some applicants choose to have a “PowerPoint” display or provide handouts for a more informative presentation.

Both the LJCPA and the subcommittees avoid Conditional Approvals; that is, they either “Recommend Approval” because the required findings can be made or they “Recommend Denial” and provide reasons for the denial. Historically, conditional approvals fell out of favor because applicants did not follow through on requested changes or the City ignored the conditions in making its decision. Accordingly subcommittees may ask for the applicant to return with updated plans or to attest that the changes will be made.

LJCPA Recommendation

Once a recommendation is issued by the subcommittee, it is automatically placed on the Consent Agenda of the LJCPA’s next regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Consent Agenda allows the LJCPA to ratify all the recommendations of its subcommittees in a single vote with no presentation or debate. You should note that anyone may request that a consent item be pulled for reconsideration and full discussion. Items pulled from the Consent Agenda are automatically trailed to the next LJCPA meeting. Upon confirming that the applicant can be present, the LJCPA will conduct essentially a new and open review of the project.

General Advice

Successful projects that move through the LJCPA’s review process in an efficient manner are those that adhere to the following advice: one, follow the regulations under the Municipal Code and the La Jolla Community Plan and, two, meet with the neighbors early and often to gain their support or at least try to address their concerns.

Don’t forget that some portions of La Jolla continue to be governed by a private homeowner’s association; however, neither the City nor the LJCPA enforce private Codes, Covenants & Restrictions (CC&Rs).