Hours after the Coastal Commission voted against permitting a luxury condominium complex to be built along Carnation Avenue, the developer said he would keep working toward building the home of his dreams.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” Richard Julian said in an email after the Commission voted 7-5 against the Aerie project. “We are reviewing the situation and will get back to you with our decision”
The project would have replaced a dilapidated apartment complex with eight luxury units and would include excavation to accommodate a subterranean garage. Julian and his architect, Brion Jeannette, told the said the plan was in compliance with the Coastal Act because the planned excavation would leave most of the coastal bluff’s facade.
But several commissioners said that leaving a sliver of bluff face wasn’t adequate, and a decision in favor of the Aerie project could lead to devastating bluff excavation along the entire California coast.
“I do feel this would set an unnecessary and dangerous precedent,” said Commissioner Esther Sanchez.
Commissioner Sara Wan said Julian’s plans “essentially take out the whole inside of the bluff.”
“I don’t know how we can go there,” she said. Not only would other developers begin to excavate bluffs throughout the state, she said, but the bluff face eventually could erode or fall to the ocean.
Commissioner William Burke said he originally planned to vote in favor of the project, but the commissioners’ discussion brought up “grave questions” about the excavation. “What do we do if that collapses?” he said.
The Commission’s staff had recommended approval of the Aerie condominiums, although staff had recommended against approval of proposed docks. Julian had withdrawn the application for the docks before the meeting today, a move that his opponents said was a pre-planned “red herring” move.
Several Aerie supporters testified, including Julian’s 80-year-old mother-in-law who asked the commissioners to approve the project because she wanted to move into it.
But opponents again and again brought up the destruction of coastal bluff.
“It sets a terrible precedent for future development,” said Marilyn Beck, a neighbor who has opposed Aerie before many planning commission and City Council meetings.
Julian did not elaborate on what changes he might make in his plans. In the past, he has expressed frustration that in spite eight years of trying to work with neighbors and city officials (and now the Coastal Commission), he has been unable to get permission to begin construction.
UPDATE: The group Residents for Responsible Development, which has opposed the project, sent an email after the meeting today that said in part, “RFRD wants to thank everyone who supported this effort in opposition to the project, especially those of you who wrote letters. We don’t know what the applicant will do now, but any redesign will have to go back through the City approval process and then again to the Coastal Commission. If we have further information, we will send out updates. Thank you all again for caring about your community!”
EDIT TO ADD:
Here is how the commissioners voted:
Steve Blank, YES
Richard Bloom, YES
William A. Burke, NO
Dan Secord, YES
Patrick Kruer, NO
Sarah Glade Gurney, NO
Esther Sanchez, NO
Mark W. Stone, NO
Sara Wan, NO
Sharon Wright, YES
Khatchik Achadjian, YES
Mary K. Shallenberger, NO