Quality of life allegedly threatened in Point Loma

Could 900 residents be wrong about Jessop estate project?

More than 900 residents signed a petition requesting that council not grant final approval.
  • More than 900 residents signed a petition requesting that council not grant final approval.

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.

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It sounds like NIMBY's to me. The root of all the problems with zoning lies in the variances. Once granted variances grow like weeds crowding out the reason for the zoning in the first place. Not to worry though Trump or Cruz will eliminate government regulations and restore property rights to owners who will then be able to do what they want with their property. Maybe instead of adding three houses they could build affordable housing units for poor immigrant families.

Great example of a wealthy neighborhood (with plenty of City access) trying their best to get what they want. But in this case the Owner was also able to hire high quality legal representation, that got the initial decision reversed.

Any bets on:

  1. Will the case gets appealed? Because Preserve Point Loma has lots of green and the longer they can tie up this development, the less likely it will occur.

2 What the legal fees will be set at for the losers, Preserve Point Loma?

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