Planning Commission unanimously approves Hillel Project: Plans proceed to San Diego City Council

The proposed Glickman Hillel Center for Jewish Life, to be located 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 received unanimous approval from the San Diego Planning Commission during its April 27 meeting at City Hall. The project has been in development, and subject to opposition from various La Jolla community advisory boards, for 17 years.

With the Planning Commission’s recommendation, the proposal will advance to the San Diego City Council and be docketed at a future meeting.

After approximately three hours of discussion, Planning Commissioner William Hofman said, “I’ve reviewed all the opposition and the group in opposition did a great job presenting their case. But I’m in full support of this project. It’s a good transition from UCSD to a residential zone and I don’t see the negative impact to the neighborhood.” He then moved to approve the required documents associated with the project. His motion was quickly seconded by Commissioner James Whalen, who also lent supportive comments.

The Center, as previously reported in La Jolla Light, will be a “center for Jewish life and Jewish students at UCSD,” said Hillel Executive Director Michel Rabkin. “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.”

However, at the Planning Commission hearing, land use attorney Julie Hamilton reiterated concerns that have surfaced since the project went public in 2000.

“There is no doubt Hillel is a good organization that serves a good purpose, but the issue here is with the use and the location,” she said, noting the proximity to a nearby single-family residential neighborhood and concerns of “inadequate” parking.

In a press release following the vote, Rabbi David Singer, Director of UC San Diego Hillel, said the LEED-certified project would total approximately 6,500 square feet and would provide space for religious programs in three separate, one- and two-story buildings around a central outdoor courtyard. The plans include 27 surface parking spaces, bicycle storage, and a small publicly accessible, park-like area with a bicycle and pedestrian path, bench, and water fountain. A thorough environmental review for the facility was conducted and it concluded that there will be no significant environmental impacts that will result from its development.

One year ago, at age 101, La Jolla resident and philanthropist Joseph “Chickie” Glickman donated the lead $5 million gift for the Beverly & Joseph Glickman Hillel Center to provide students at UC San Diego with a permanent Jewish home near campus.

More information: ucsdhillel.org/glickman-hillel-center

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