"I think what has happened over the past couple of weeks is a travesty," said Joe LaCava, chair of La Jolla's community planning group, during the February 9 meeting of San Diego's planning commission.
LaCava appeared before the commission to request that they reopen hearings on the proposal by Bishop's School in La Jolla to build a new library and learning center on campus. The building, however, would exceed the 30-foot height limit for coastal properties by 2 feet.
The project has seen its ups and downs. In September, community planners denied the school's request. In October, a planning hearing officer approved it. Finally, on January 20, San Diego's planning commissioners voted three to two in favor of an appeal, denying the height variance.
However, at that January 20 meeting, two commissioners were absent and city bylaws require four votes for an action. Because there were not four votes, the commission's decision is meaningless.
"I'm here to pursue any remedy under the law to reconsider the action on January 20," LaCava said during public comment. "I don't know if you will agree with us or with the applicant, or, find a compromise. But, clearly the conversation is not done. You cannot stop this discussion based on an action outside of a public hearing. Had it been disclosed that you get one [chance] to get four votes then commissioners may have taken a different action."
Deputy city attorney Andrea Dixon responded to LaCava's plea. "The commission's rules require four votes to take action. The legal effect of a three-two vote is that the hearing officer's decision stands. This has always been the policy of the planning commission, and the item will not be docketed for an additional hearing."