Torrey Corner painting sparks planning board concerns

The new mural at Torrey Corner shopping center.
(Karen Billing)

The Torrey Corner shopping center in Torrey Hills has a new look. The retail buildings on the corner of Carmel Mountain Road and East Ocean Air Drive have been repainted in new colors with large, eye-catching murals.

Next to Zip Fusion Sushi, the silhouette of a tree stands in front of a sun, shining out rays of red, orange and yellow against a blue sky. The city’s skyline is faded in the distance. The other building, home to The UPS Store and Ocean Air Massage, has been painted with varying shades of greens with stripes and trees. On that building’s facade facing East Ocean Air Drive, tree silhouettes were painted against striking oranges and yellows.

Not everyone in the community is a fan of the new paintings.

On Sept. 20, the Torrey Hills Community Planning Board voted to send a complaint to the city’s code compliance department, contending that the murals and color scheme are inconsistent with the center’s approved plan, the Torrey Hills Design Guidelines and the Torrey Hills Community Plan.

The center opened in 2008 and the buildings used to be more beige, terra cotta and brown colors, pairing the with rock accents.

The colors of the new Torrey Corner center.
(Karen Billing)

At least one member of the board thought the murals were an enhancement.

“I think it looks great. I think it looks much better than it did before,” board member Tiffany Howell said. “It’s really different but I think it adds to the community. I don’t see why we can’t amend things after decades.”

Chair Kathryn Burton countered that when things are amended, there is a city approval process that should be followed. According to Scott Robinson, supervising public information officer for the city’s Development Services Department, a permit is not required to paint a building as the murals are neither a sign nor an advertisement.

Board member Guy Ravad said he would’ve hoped the new painting would stay within the approved color scheme to keep the consistency of the rest of the neighborhood as it is “mismatched” to everything around it.

“As a stand-alone it looks great, if it was on the corner in PB (Pacific Beach) it would look terrific but it’s out of whack here,” Ravad said. “It’s a beautiful paint job but it belongs somewhere else.”

Board member Brad Fagan, who also serves on the Torrey Hills Homeowner’s Association, said the HOA discussed this recently because many people in the community complained. The HOA plans to send a letter to the property owner asking to be more aware of the community in the future and to start a dialogue with the HOA regarding any capital improvement projects.

The new Torrey Corner mural.
(Karen Billing)