A new outdoor patio and stairs push the boundaries at a home in the prestigious gated community of Oceanside, Saint Malo Beach.
Recent construction is too close to the property line and should be removed, city officials say. However, the Oceanside Planning Commission wants to take a closer look at the situation before deciding whether to apply the rules.
“We have granted exemptions for more controversial issues than this,” Commissioner Susan Custer said at a meeting last week.
Built to resemble a French fishing village, with pointed shingled roofs and exposed beams, the Saint Malo subdivision was founded in 1929 at the outlet of the Buena Vista Lagoon near the Carlsbad border. Most of the homes were built in the 1930s and the development was annexed to Oceanside in 1950.
As a result, many structures deviate from current building standards.
Some of the homes are summer getaways that have been passed down from generation to generation within families, a construction project representative told the Planning Commission. The applicant for the waiver and patio permit is the owner, Franklin Otis Booth III, a great-great-grandson of Los Angeles Times founder Harrison Gray Otis.
Booth is asking to add 102 square feet to an existing 420 square foot cantilever deck at the back of the house and build a staircase between the deck and the ground.
The new bridge is largely built but not finished. The city requires that all construction be at least 10 feet from the rear property line. However, the old terrace already exceeded the required setback and the extension will take part of it within a foot of the edge of the property, according to the city’s report.
Additionally, with the extended deck and staircase, the 4,915-square-foot home will exceed the maximum coverage of the 7,482-square-foot land by about 6%, according to the report.
“What we are asking for is very minor in the grand scheme of things,” Denise Tomlan, the architect of the project, said in a presentation to the planning committee.
One of the reasons is that many houses in Saint-Malo are organized around a central interior courtyard. Outdoor space is limited, especially with ocean views. The plaintiff’s land, although it is inside the development, is on a slope that offers “spectacular views” to the south and west, she said.
The bridge extension was built without a waiver or permit as “it is a very difficult site” to build and the larger bridge was needed to support scaffolding for other ongoing renovations on the house, said Tomlan. The other work did not require a waiver, she said.
The city received a letter from a neighbor, Jay Zapata, opposing the bridge who said it affected his and his neighbors’ view of the ocean.
Zapata also alleged that the city rejected an earlier request to build the terrace, but the owner still started the work and received a notice of violation. Asked about it during Monday’s planning committee, senior planner Sergio Madera said he had no knowledge of it and should check the city’s records.
Tomlan took issue with Zapata’s claims and said the owner actually improved eyesight for the neighbors by removing a large tree.
“We did everything by the rules,” said Tomlan, and the owners said they would remove the bridge if the city didn’t approve it.
She said she submitted 26 letters collected by the applicant from residents in support of the project.
Planning commissioner Louise Balma said she was “on the fence” about the approval.
“If we set a precedent with this gap by letting it go… people will come back and say, ‘They have it, I want mine too,'” said Balma.
Commissioner Tom Morrissey was for approval.
“Why not let someone enjoy their property,” Morrissey said. “If it doesn’t obstruct anyone’s view, who cares?” “
The committee voted unanimously to continue the matter at its August 9 meeting to get more information on the project and any previous issues it may have had with the city.