The dispute over the San Diego City Council's decision to stop a development of the former Jessop property in Point Loma will move on to the appellate court.
On March 15, a majority of city-council members voted to appeal a February 23 court ruling that sided with property owner Carolyn Kutzke, who had accused the council of unlawfully rejecting the project over environmental issues that had been already been addressed.
Point Loma Summit, the name of the proposed development, called for reconfiguring a 1.45-acre property located on La Crescentia Drive; three homes would be constructed, ranging in size from 2600 to 3880 square feet. The property would also include the potentially historic Jessop estate, built in 1929. The four homes all had a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet, as required by the Point Loma Community Plan.
But Point Loma residents blasted the project over potential fire hazards due to the hilly terrain and for being overly dense and inconsistent with community character. In June 2014, planning commissioners sided with Kutzke and city staff, who recommended that the project move forward.
A group of Point Loma residents, calling themselves Preserve Point Loma, appealed the commission's decision to the city council.
"The Point Loma Summit subdivision is in violation of our adopted Peninsula Community Plan; contains deviations to the existing Zoning Code regarding access, setbacks and height; is located on an environmentally sensitive steep hillside and sets a bad precedent for future deviations and variances to the San Diego City land use policies detrimental to community character and our quality of life," read the group's website.
Over 900 residents reportedly signed a petition urging the city council to reject the project.
In February 2015, the city council did just that, in spite of staff recommendations that stated the project adequately addressed fire hazards, steep canyon slopes, and the obstruction of view corridors.
Kutzke responded in April 2015 with a lawsuit against the city for inverse condemnation of her property.
The lawsuit charged the city council with overriding environmental documents to appease residents.
"Defendants violated the California and United States Constitutions by making findings adverse to an approved environmental document, which document was not the subject of an appeal. Defendants violated the California and United States Constitutions by singling out [Kutzke] for disparate treatment in interpretation of the Municipal Code."
The council's decision, read the lawsuit, had a "negative impact on Plaintiffs economically and interfered with distinct investment-backed expectations."
On February 23, 2016, Superior Court judge Joel Wohlfeil ruled in favor of Kutzke. Wohlfeil overturned the council's decision, and, according to the judgment, ordered that the proposal be "remanded back to the city council for findings consistent with the planning commission's decision..."
The case will move forward to appellate review.