Council asks for redesign of plans for proposed Del Mar home

In order to preserve public views, the Del Mar City Council on Sept. 15 asked an architect to redesign plans for a proposed two-story, single-family home on Ocean View Avenue.

“This project unreasonably blocks public views and there are alternatives available that will result in a perfectly usable project for the applicant and will help that project blend in with the neighborhood successfully,” said Councilman Don Mosier.

Kerry and Michelle Marsh have asked to demolish a two-story home with a detached carport in order to construct a new, two-story, single-family residence with a basement, pool and spa at 340 Ocean View Ave. The requested permits would allow the applicant to perform associated gut and fill grading, landscaping and structural site improvements, including the removal of six of the 11 Torrey Pine trees from the 14,350-square-foot lot.

The project was brought before the Design Review Board three times — in December, February and March — before the board conditionally approved design review, land conservation and coastal development permits for the project at its May 28 meeting.

At that time, the applicant presented revised plans that included lowering the levels of the house as well as the pitch of the roofs. Doing so reduced the proposed structure to a height that is approximately 3 feet taller than the existing structure in the location of the new garage and 26.5 inches taller in the location of the proposed entry.

The existing flat-roofed home has a roof elevation of approximately 205 feet.

Brian Church, owner of Del Mar-based Brian Church Architecture, said the plans — which had been revised three times — actually opened up new views.

Nevertheless, Joseph Dietz, who lives across the street from the proposed development, appealed the Design Review Board’s decision, arguing that the project blocked coastal views and detracted from the natural beauty of the coastal area.

“As a benefit for the Del Mar residents and visitors who enjoy it today, we believe that the natural views in our seaside city are not infinite and worthy of your city’s commitment to protect scenic, public views from any diminishment or loss,” said Dietz, who has lived in the community for 64 years.

A number of neighbors submitted letters in support of the appeal. After hearing from several residents in person, the council on July 21 unanimously decided to hear the appeal during a public hearing.

Supporting Dietz’s appeal, several neighbors argued against the project again on Sept. 15, adding there are reasonable alternatives to the current plans.

“We’re not talking about private versus private issues here, and balancing someone’s view versus another, we’re talking about preservation of the entire community’s view,” said Ole Snyder, who noted he drives by the view every day. “This is not something that should be negotiated or compromised.”

Since the July council meeting, four of the five council members had opportunities to meet with the architect, appellant and neighbors, and review the project plans. Deputy Mayor Al Corti recused himself from the issue because Brian Church Architecture is working on his property.

Agreeing with the neighbors, the council asked the architect to go back to the drawing board and drop the proposed structure so that it doesn’t exceed the height of the current home.

“I think the design of the house, itself, is a wonderful design. I think it’s very well located,” said Councilman Terry Sinnott. “But I do also find that there is significant public coastal view blockage to existing views. It also detracts from the natural beauty of the coastal area.”

“The applicant argues that there is no alternative to the proposed design that would preserve that ocean view,” Mosier added. “I reject that argument. There are alternatives. I’m not going to redesign the project for them, but there are alternatives that would preserve that ocean view.”

Once plans for the project are revised, they will be brought before the council.

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