Myrna Naegel, co-founder of La Jolla Shores Tomorrow and the owner of 2210 Avenida de la Playa and Councilperson Sherri Lighter on July 31st, 2012 at Ms.Lightner Campaign Kickoff picnic.
2226 Avenida de la Playa is owned by Vaughn Woods. Mr. Woods is President of La Jolla Shores Tomorrow an organization formed to save La Jolla Shores. His building, however is in serious violation of both the SDMC and the LJSPDO.
OPEN LETTER TO COUNCILPERSON SHERRI LIGHTNER
I submitted a request for investigation of code violations for the properties located at 2210 & 2226 Avenida De La Playa on September 9, 2010. Both properties were inspected and issued Civil Penalty Notices and Orders on April 14, 2011 and February 15, 2011 respectively. Both property owners, although founders of the small but vocal group known as La Jolla Shores Tomorrow, have done little or nothing to correct the cited violations and show respect to our SDMC and our La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (LJSPDO).
The property owner of 2226 Avenida de la Playa has been cited for violations of the conversion of the garage to habitable space creating an illegal second unit with the installation of a bathroom, kitchen and floor to ceiling walls without the required ministerial building, plumbing and electrical permits. Additionally (i) the elimination of required off street parking (ii) the removal of the exterior staircase located in the front of the building (iii) the front door modification/relocation and the enclosure/addition to the front of the building on the ground floor (iv) the installation of an internal stair case and two doors along the west side of the building on the ground floor. In addition, the property owner is using the front half of his ground floor retail space for professional office use which is in violation of the LJSPDO.
The property owner of 2210 Avenida de la Playa has been cited for the violation of the conversion of the garage to office space in violation with La Jolla Shores/ Coastal Development Permit No. 90-0931 and Substantial Conformance Review, Project No. 96004482-P-1. The elimination of three of the four required off-street parking spaces. The illegal conversion of the required open carport to an enclosed garage, thereby, restricting the required egress path to the retail store on the ground floor level. The Notice required the Owner of 2210 to obtain permits to restore the development back to the previous permitted condition reflected by permit #B202050-03 issued on 6/20/2003 with final on 9/10/2003.
On October 3, 2011 I was told by Mr. Wisnleski the above code violations would be scheduled for Civil Penalty Hearings, to date this has not occurred. I am therefore requesting your office to investigate the following; (i) Why have these code violations not been corrected in almost two years? (ii) Given the financial condition of our City, why have civil penalties for the above code violations of the Municipal Code and the LJSPDO not been assessed at the daily rate as described in the attached notice? and (iii) Is there any truth to Erin Demorest comments, to me, that code violations in La Jolla Shores are too numerous and therefore all code violations are being ignored by the NCCD? Additionally, do you believe it is appropriate for individuals that are knowingly in violation of the SDMC and the LJSPDO to be allowed to serve on the LJCPA or its sub-committees?
Given the years of experience in your office with the NCCD I am certain this matter can be resolved ASAP.
Thank you for your immediate attention in this matter.
In response to Bob Whitney’s open letter published on Aug. 9, Mr. Whitney’s first contact with my office about the status of the alleged code violations was on Aug. 6 after close of business.
On Tuesday, Aug. 7, we contacted the city’s Neighborhood Code Compliance Department for an update on the status of the alleged violations.
The Neighborhood Code Compliance Department is under the direction and control of the Mayor’s Office and prioritizes violations based on whether they constitute an imminent health and safety hazard or environmental concern. Lower-level violations, such as unpermitted garage conversions, are addressed as time and staffing levels allow. With these types of violations, the department works with the property owner to resolve the issues before assessing any penalties or fines. The Neighborhood Code Compliance Department has informed my office that it is working with the property owners at 2210 and 2226 Avenida de la Playa to address the outstanding issues and to bring the properties into compliance.
Nearly all the mixed-use buildings in the La Jolla Shores Commercial Center are previously conforming uses or structures, which means that regulations may have changed since the buildings were built. Some of the business owners in the Shores may remember when all of the sidewalk cafes were cited for not being permitted and how the Neighborhood Code Compliance Department worked with us to affordably get the appropriate permits without any fines or penalties and without shutting down the businesses.
Finally, in response to Mr. Whitney’s last question; it is up to the community to determine who is eligible to serve on the volunteer community planning association and its subcommittees. I know the La Jolla Community Planning Association Board takes their responsibility to the community very seriously.
— Sherri S. Lightner, District 1 City Councilwoman
Letter to Lightner flawed, politically motivated
Mr. Whitney’s letter embodies three themes that require redress: it reveals his fundamental ignorance regarding how Neighborhood Code Compliance works; he is hypocritical, as he is in violation of similar neighborhood codes; and his letter is an inappropriate and politically motivated attack on Sherri Lightner.
First, Whitney assumes that any city citation for neighborhood code violations is correct and the owner is at fault. Both of these propositions are patently false. In many cases, a homeowner purchased the house decades after a code violation occurred. Although the homeowner is responsible for bringing the home into compliance where there is a violation, there is no guilt associated with the process.
Furthermore, city records often fail to accurately reflect whether a proper permit was obtained or not, especially with older records. The city is often wrong in these situations and admits to same. In the case of the Naegle property at 2210 Avenida de la Playa, both Dale Naegle, before he passed away late last year, and his wife, Myrna Naegle, have been working with the city to resolve issues from the time they first received the notices.
Numerous meetings with the city and correspondence reveal that some of the alleged violations were not violations at all. The reference in the Civil Penalty Notice to an egress path required for the retail store was totally wrong. Dale Naegle immediately rectified the city’s mistake by quoting from the code. A letter dated March 14, 2012 from Duke Fernandez, senior land development investigator for the Neighborhood Code Compliance Division, to the Naegles states: “After several meetings, the city honored the reduction of four parking spaces represented on the Coastal Development Permit to three as shown on the B-202050-03 permit. The city also has honored your request to keep the garage door leading to your required commercial parking for security reasons.” The only outstanding issue involves the conversion of a garage to an office space.
This conversion was completed to make it possible for Mr. Naegle, who suffered from polio since childhood, to more easily reach his office on the ground floor. The elevator went directly to the garage and when it became too difficult for Mr. Naegle to access his office on the first floor from the elevator the only viable solution was to move the office to the garage. This arrangement was approved by Robert Vacchi, deputy director of Neighborhood Code Compliance Division.
There are ongoing issues concerning the rights of owners under the Americans with Disabilities Act and whether changes that were made in compliance with the ADA can remain after the person with the disability dies, which will be resolved in due course. Mr. Whitney’s assertion that nothing has been done is ludicrous, mean-spirited and uniformed.
Mr. Whitney’s own mixed-use project was rejected, not only by the La Jolla community, but by the City Council. He selectively filed complaints against those who opposed his project. And the city went along with this “selective prosecution” with sometimes devastating effects.
Take the case of Carol Sasaki at 2222 Avenida de la Playa, who received a civil penalty notice from the city at Mr. Whitney’s instigation. She states, “Is the city doing this to all the places on the block like mine that had their garages converted so many long years before any of us bought?”
After losing her home, Ms. Sasaki wrote, “What was done to me was evil and will affect me always. I am so depressed from losing my home. What they did to me over the garage and forcing me to come up with money I don’t have or lose my home is awful. I cannot believe that in America they can do these third-world tactics. Shocked still.”
Mr. Whitney is himself in violation of development codes. He owns two adjacent properties — one is residential with two bedrooms that requires two off-street parking spaces, and another that is commercial, over 1,000 square feet, that also requires two off-street parking spaces. Thus, while Whitney is required to have four off-street parking spaces he has only two. His excuse: he applied for a project that would resolve these issues. But his project was rejected by the City Council. Should Mr. Whitney be charged the penalties for code violations while he takes years to obtain an EIR or develop and process a new project? As Whitney asserts, the city’s financial situation could benefit by the collection of these penalties.
Mr. Whitney’s letter to Councilwoman Lightner is politically motivated and reveals his lack of understanding of the fundamental workings of the City of San Diego. Lightner is in the legislative branch, which does not direct the Development Services Department (DSD). The Mayor’s Office is charged with overseeing the DSD and the Neighborhood Code Compliance Division. But Mr. Whitney supports Lightner’s opponent, Ray Ellis. And, as Ms. Lightner supported the community opposition to his behemoth project, a project that would have been over one-third larger than allowed in any other similarly situated community in San Diego, Whitney seeks to tarnish her reputation.
Rob Whittemore, Hetty DeJong, Myrna Naegle, Dick McCormack, Grace McCormack