San Diego City Council delays vote on Hillel Center for La Jolla

At the 11th hour, the proposal to approve plans for Glickman Hillel Center for Jewish Life on a triangular lot across from UC San Diego bounded by La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla Scenic Way and La Jolla Scenic Drive North, was pulled from the San Diego City Council agenda July 11, due to a “noticing error.”

Hilary Nemchik, representing District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry, said City staff did not meet the specific noticing requirements for this type of right-of-way vacation coming to a public hearing and it would likely be months before the item can return to a City Council agenda.

Elaborating, City of San Diego public information officer Anthony Santacroce said, “Most land use items require one public noticing in a newspaper. However, this one, due to a public right-of-way easement being vacated, required two notices to be published, two successive weeks in a row.

“The California Streets and Highways Code section 8322 requires the notice run in a newspaper of general circulation for two weeks prior to the hearing date. The notice only ran for one day. The City did not meet its noticing requirement for the Right-of- Way Street Vacation, thus the item was pulled so that it could be properly noticed.”

The Center, former Hillel Executive Director Michel Rabkin previously told La Jolla Light, will be a “center for Jewish life and Jewish students at UCSD. It’s an off-campus center for small group meetings, pastoral counseling, holiday celebrations, prayer services and a place for cultural exploration. So it’s a drop-in center where we will have professional staff work out of to work with students on a day-to-day basis.”

The project received unanimous approval from the San Diego Planning Commission during its April 27 meeting.

The project has been in development, and subject to opposition from various La Jolla community advisory boards, for 17 years. A looming concern is the proximity to a nearby single-family residential neighborhood and concerns of “inadequate” parking.

At the July 6 La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting, trustee Mike Costello described the project as “one of the top four most important projects that has ever come before the CPA.”

He said, “It is so important for that neighborhood and maintaining residential neighborhoods in our community. There is nothing more important than stopping that project and enforcing our zoning here in La Jolla. I cannot stress what it will do to that neighborhood (to) open the area up to students. Because whether it’s a religious center or student center – it will bring students.”

Current Hillel of San Diego director Rabbi David Singer said he was “disappointed” to learn of the postponement, especially “due to an error on the part of City Staff.”

He said, “While we, our students, our neighbors and thousands of our supporters were excited to finally celebrate the approval of our Hillel center, we will use this delay as an opportunity to again extend an olive branch to our opponents.”

A new date for the project to be heard has not been set.

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