Solana Beach denies appeal in ongoing development dispute

By Claire Harlin

A local couple’s plan to tear down an 800-square-foot single family home and build a 7,700-square-foot duplex was stopped in its tracks on July 11, when the Solana Beach City Council unanimously affirmed that the applicants need a development review permit (DRP).

The hearing, which resulted in a nearly two-hour deliberation among residents and the council, was called to discuss the applicants’ appeal of the city’s determination that the project was incomplete. The property, located on a 10,000-square-foot lot on North Rios Avenue, is owned by John and Kristin Murk.

The Murks’ original application for a structural development permit was submitted in 2010, and in 2011, the city added provisions to an ordinance that would require the Murks to have a DRP as well. The applicants contend that only requirements existing in 2010 apply, and their project was stymied by the city. They also said they were subject to a rigorous review and were treated differently than other applicants.

City Councilman Mike Nichols said that claim could not be further from the truth, and he takes offense by it.

“We have so much stuff to do, and to think up an ordinance to stop a specific project, that’s just absurd,” he said.

Councilman Dave Roberts pointed out that the city even hired a third party engineer to review the case.

“We have to have fiscal discipline here, and if we did that on every case our city would be broke,” Roberts said. “It is our responsibility to follow the rules that are in place, not only for the Murks but for everyone in this community.”

Much of the deliberation involves a discrepancy in proposed grading figures. The applicants proposed there would be no-to-little grading, which was inconsistent with property evaluations that determined the sloped land would require more grading than proposed in order to keep water from running into the neighbors’ properties.

“You can’t tear down an 800-square-foot house on a 10,000-square-foot lot and build a 7,700-square-foot home and not change any dirt or change any grading or anything,” Roberts said.