Adelante Townhomes project has some Bird Rock residents ruffled

rendering of proposed adelente townhomes project in bird rock
An official rendering of the Adelante Townhomes project. (Credit: Murfey Co.)

A proposed townhome project has major opposition from some Bird Rock residents about what they say is non-conformance with official planning codes, but the developers maintain the plans adhere to regulations.

The Adelante Townhomes project proposes the demolition of an existing office building at La Jolla Boulevard and Forward Street in Bird Rock, the subdivision of one lot into 14 condominium units, and construction of one new two-story, multi-family residential building with a basement level, covered parking and roof decks.

The 21,485-square-foot project, brought forth by Murfey Company, is within the La Jolla Planned District Zone 4; one of the units will be affordable housing for low-income residents.

The inclusion of the affordable unit means Murfey Co. is able to apply for incentives and waivers “granted by the state housing density bonus,” Murfey director of development & preconstruction Ryan Wynn told lajolla.provisions.media

The waivers allow the company to not have to comply with La Jolla Planned District Ordinance requirements that 50 percent of the ground floor of such a development have retail space.

After months of community group review (see timeline below) with a multitude of concerns about the lack of retail, Murfey Co. converted one of the units into about 1,100 square feet of retail space on the ground floor at the north and west corner of the proposed project: there are now 13 residential units and one commercial unit proposed for the building.

The project has been approved by city of San Diego-recognized advisory group La Jolla Community Planning Association; BRCC has never taken an official position on the project, though several of its members are opposed.

“We are opting to listen to the community’s desires to include commercial space into the project,” Scott Murfey told lajolla.provisions.media. “We are proud of the redesigned project and believe that will be a great addition to further enhance Bird Rock.”

As it is now, several of the project’s opponents reiterated their complaints during a contentious Bird Rock Community Council meeting that ran more than two hours Oct. 3.

“The abuse of the density bonus law in this development makes a mockery of the purpose of the law,” said La Jolla resident and former San Diego City Councilmember Sherri Lightner during the meeting’s formal presentation.

“The Bird Rock business district is a really dynamic business area” for the entire city of San Diego, said longtime Bird Rock resident Darcy Ashley.

La Jolla resident and architect Phil Merten says the project is over the height limit; developers say it’s not.

Not conforming with the PDO and community plan with respect to the lack of retail is also of grave concern to Phil Merten, La Jolla resident and architect.

Other arguments against the project are that it’s three stories in height, Lightner said, is over the 30-foot height requirement, and the parking spaces do not meet minimum width requirements.

The project may be 32 to 33 feet high in some locations, Merten said. 

“The project is not more than 30 feet in height, ” Wynn said to lajolla.provisions.media. 

“Providing the required amount of parking spaces and the minimum dimensions to accommodate automobiles today is a key requirement and this project simply does not do that,” Merten said at the meeting. 

“The architect has designed an attractive project that complies with [applicable] height limits and the two-story designation,” Russ Murfey told lajolla.provisions.media.

“The developer can choose to build a project without incentives and waivers that complies with the zoning requirements and provides equitable affordable housing and livable and saleable business development” Lightner said at the meeting. 

Project opponents also circulated a petition at the meeting calling on Bird Rock residents to sign affirming they “request that the La Jolla Community Planning Association rescind its approval of the Adelante Project … [as] this project does not conform to various requirements of the San Diego Municipal Code [and] the La Jolla PDO.”

“I’m very concerned,” BRCC Vice President Joe Parker said. “It’s about changing the character of our community.”

Murfey Co. representatives – including brothers Russ and Scott Murfey and Wynn – attended the meeting but as they made a formal presentation during the September BRCC meeting, did not give their own presentation but were given the opportunity to speak during public comment.

At the meeting, architect Steve Dalton, who worked on the project, said “a lot of misinformation is being spoken,” about the townhomes, adding further concern that one of the images presented at the meeting as a rendering of the project [presented in tandem with the original] was made by an outside group and “doesn’t comply with the design we proposed.”

Sherri Lightner lays out her concerns at the Oct 3 Bird Rock Community Council meeting. The lower image is a rendering she and other project opponents privately contracted.

The second rendering was privately contracted, Lightner said.

Not all at the meeting were opposed to the project; one man spoke in support of the project, noting the addition of 13 housing units by the Murfeys, themselves Bird Rock residents, would benefit the community. 

“We want to bring something we can all be proud of,” Wynn said, adding the retail was added after feedback and collaboration from Bird Rock residents. 

“I live here. My kids live here,” Scott Murfey said. “We’re really trying hard to provide something positive for the community.”

Lightner urged meeting attendees to “show up,” by signing the petition and participating in future meetings where the project is discussed.

The Timeline:
  • Nov. 2022: Project is first presented to BRCC.
  • Dec. 2022: La Jolla CPA Development Permit Review Committee supports the project preliminarily.
  • Jan.: PDO approves despite noting non-conformance.
  • Feb.: LJCPA approves the project.
  • March: LJCPA rescinds its approval vote, a move that led to PDO changing its vote to deny the project based on the opposition of some residents.
  • April: DPR supports the project on final review. 
  • May: CPA again backs the townhomes proposal.

The project will now move forward to the San Diego Planning Commission; a hearing date has not yet been set.

Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.
Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Everything happening in La Jolla, sent right to your inbox!

Follow & Subscribe

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Everything happening in La Jolla, sent right to your inbox!

Enjoying our content?

Your contribution helps support our small local team of journalists in continuing to bring you quality content and news about La Jolla.
ADVERTISEMENT

Recommended Posts

Most Popular

Follow & Subscribe

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Everything happening in La Jolla, sent right to your inbox!

Enjoying our content?

Your contribution helps support our small local team of journalists in continuing to bring you quality content and news about La Jolla.
ADVERTISEMENT

Most Popular

All News Categories

What's new in La Jolla?

Stay connected with regular updates on all things La Jolla, CA

Join your fellow La Jolla enthusiasts and get the latest local news stories, exciting events, inspiring roundups for the top things to do, the best eats in town, new businesses, plus exclusive subscriber-only deals.

Get the latest local news stories, see upcoming events, top activities and restaurants, plus exclusive subscriber-only deals.

Join your fellow La Jolla enthusiasts and get the latest local news stories, exciting events, inspiring roundups for the top things to do, the best eats in town, new businesses, plus exclusive subscriber-only deals.