Environmental report out for University House rehabilitation

A photo from the late 1980s of UC San Diego's University House, designed as a residence for the university's Chancellor. Photo: UCSD
A photo from the late 1980s of UC San Diego's University House, designed as a residence for the university's Chancellor. Photo: UCSD

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

A draft environmental impact report for the restoration of what was formerly the UCSD chancellor's residence has been released for public review and comment.

The report was released in advance of public hearing for the University House Rehabilitation Project set for 6 p.m. Feb. 24 at the University Faculty Club Conference Room at UCSD. The residence is a one-story structure built in 1952 by noted Santa Fe-based architect William Lumpkins for William Black, a prominent La Jolla developer for whom Black's Beach is named.

The environmental report is an outgrowth of the UCSD 2004 Long Range Development Plan EIR.

The includes the existing 11,400-square-foot residence known as University Chancellor’s House. According to UC policy, all chancellors must live in designated university houses on or within four miles of campus to fulfill their public relations responsibilities as hosts and fundraisers. An exception was made for current Chancellor Marye Anne Fox because the house was determined to be uninhabitable.

Originally purchased by the University of California system in 1967 for $2.7 million, as recently as July 2006, the UC Board of Regents had been considering spending $7.85 million in mostly private funds to rebuild the blufftop residence in La Jolla Farms.

In 2004, it was assessed for structural and seismic code compliance and was found to have deficiencies that made it unlivable. It has been unoccupied since that time.

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and her husband James Whitesell, a UCSD chemistry professor, purchased a home near Mount Soledad in 2009. The university system reimburses them $20,000 a year for "wear and tear" and utilities and expenses related to its use for university business. They previously had lived in a leased oceanview home, paid for by the university.

During the past two years, UCSD has been reevaluating plans for the University House with assistance from La Jolla Historical Society, Save Our Heritage organisation and Native American and Kumeyaay representatives, with an eye toward rehabilitating it for reuse. In December, Audrey Geisel, widow of Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, donated $2 million to the restoration fund.

In the years since the house was built, the property on which it sits was discovered to be a Native American burial ground, which has presented a major hurdle to its redevelopment.

The report can be viewed online at

http://physicalplanning.ucsd.edu/environmental/pub _ notice.html


It is also available for review at the Central, La Jolla, North University Community and University Community branch libraries.



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