Shores board issues response to Living, Learning Neighborhood EIR: Asks UCSD to consider building heights, placement and traffic impacts

Now that the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the UC San Diego Living Learning Neighborhood has been released, a public comment period has been initiated and will continue until Dec. 15. With the window open, the La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) voted to write a letter in opposition to the project during its Nov. 8 meeting. It also advocated for the public to write and submit comments at: env-review@ucsd.edu

The UCSD project calls for an 11-acre mixed-use complex on the west campus between Muir College and Marshall College to house academic buildings for Social Sciences and the Arts & Humanities departments; 2,000 undergraduate beds divided between four residential buildings; 1,200 underground parking spaces; and a market, dining hall and craft center. Construction is expected to begin in June 2018 and be completed in fall 2020.

The purpose of the environmental review is to find any environmental issues that were not thoroughly addressed. The EIR can be viewed here: bit.ly/LivingLearningEIR

Among the issues LJSA wants addressed are: the height of the buildings and their proximity to Torrey Pines Road and adjacent neighborhoods, and traffic impacts.

Some of the buildings planned are as tall as 14 stories, prompting concerns from LJSA trustee Dolores Donovan: “Buildings of that bulk and size are inconsistent with the rest of the neighborhood and will cast a shadow for most of the day across the street and the other side. UCSD should reserve its tallest buildings for the interior of the campus and keep the lower buildings to the outside of the campus where it intersects with the community.”

Trustee Janie Emerson added that she “skimmed” the EIR and that her early concerns were with Average Daily Trips (ADTs). “In looking at the EIR, the estimates are woefully optimistic,” she said. “Anyone who lives and drives in this area knows traffic is already horrific at certain times of day, if not impossible. The campus comment will be that since it’s a campus environment, the students will be walking not driving … but even if you don’t drive around on campus, you do get around by car. To think that no one who lives here is going to have a job off campus or social events to attend is ludicrous.”

Several board members noted the EIR does not adequately account for ADTs of staff and faculty who will be driving to campus and working in these buildings.

LJSA member Brian Earley said he envisioned a line of traffic from Torrey Pines Road in The Shores, all the up along La Jolla Shores Drive and back up to North Torrey Pines Road near the university. “There are no new roads planned and nowhere to put any new roads, so we’re stuck with the current infrastructure and now this increase in people,” he said.

The board voted to draft a letter addressing these points and submit it to the university for review, and encouraged the community to do the same. “It’s very important to express yourself, in writing, to this environmental review. Words spoken drift away on the wind, but words written are there forever,” Donovan said.

A public hearing on the project is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29 at the UC San Diego Faculty Club, 9500 Gilman Drive (at the end of Mandeville Lane). Learn more at livinglearning.ucsd.edu or plandesignbuild.ucsd.edu

In other Shores news

Summer safety stats: More than a million-and-a-half people visited La Jolla Shores beach this summer, according to Lifeguard Lt. Rich Stropky. He said crowd counts in June numbered 295,000 people; in July 525,400; 590,500 in August and 249,350 in September.

To arrive at these numbers, he explained: “We look at the density of the beach and count how many people there are in a given area at peak times. We connect the density blocks and multiply it by three, assuming there are three cycles of people coming to the beach. That’s as scientific as we get.”

Despite the high attendance, Stropky said “serious medical acts” were minimal, with 118 rescues in June, 65 in July, 48 in August and 20 in September. Minor medical aids were 84 in June, 90 in July, 63 in August and 34 in September. “One of the significant differences between this summer and last is that the surf and rip currents were cranking last year. We did over 9,000 in a year service-wide in 2016 and this year it was not as intense.”

UCSD fire station plans: A Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) was issued for the fire station planned on the UC San Diego campus, and comments will be accepted until Dec. 7. Unlike an EIR, an MND suggests there will be no major environmental impacts as a result of the project. The campus does not have its own fire department and relies on the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

The project involves the construction of a 10,500 square foot, two-story fire station where a tennis court exists. The fire station would accommodate a standard crew of 12 personnel rotating over a 24-hour shift. The proposed site is east of North Torrey Pines Road between its intersections with Genesee Avenue and North Point, within the North Campus Neighborhood.

The MND can be found here

End-of-the-year: Since LJSA does not meet in December, chair Nick LeBeouf gave a year-end send-off: “It’s been a great year for the board. We accomplished quite a bit, but we still have some things to finish up. Without your support and your voice, we can’t get the things done that you want. Your involvement is what makes this board effective. I’ve seen a change since I’ve been active here, and I think others have, too.”

— La Jolla Shores Association next meets, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10 at Martin Johnson House of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 8840 Biological Grade. facebook.com/LaJollaShoresAssociation

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