La Jolla Shores trustees consider Marine Conservation Facility plans

UC San Diego assistant director of communications and community planning Anu Delouri informed La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) board members that a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) Marine Conservation Facility is out and comments from the community are welcome through Monday, July 3.

The project, which was originally presented to the community earlier this year, calls for the conversion of an existing building into laboratories for SIO students, and the building of a 100-student forum and classroom, plus a café on the northern side. Located at the intersection of La Jolla Shores Drive and Biological Grade, the building is within the limits of the Scripps campus, and therefore outside of the purview of La Jolla community advisory boards. However, it lays in the Coastal Zone, and UCSD needs approval from the California Coastal Commission to break ground.

The community reacted to information-only presentations in front of the La Jolla Community Planning Association earlier this year, alleging the parapet over the proposed café would limit the views from La Jolla Shores Drive. As a result, UCSD planners downsized the facility to satisfy the critics.

At the June 14 Shores Association meeting, Delouri said in her opinion, the view wasn’t a problem. “It opens up a much more beautiful view to the north of (existing) building A,” she said.

However, trustees pointed out the community’s loss of confidence in the UCSD plans after the MESOM facility in Scripps campus was built in 2012 two stories higher than what previous renderings showed. “It’s true that the then-architect didn’t mean to trick anybody with the renderings, but something happened,” Delouri clarified, adding that the university is trying to make amends and be “a good neighbor.”

“I can only request we work together and rebuild the trust, because we’re not tricking anybody,” she said, and then she explained some of the offsets in the books for Marine Conservation facility, such as a coastal trail connecting with local hiking paths, a public outlook with five unrestricted parking spaces and the removal of some trees that opens up views elsewhere.

LJSA trustee Mary Munk defended the intentions of Steve Gallagher, SIO’s assistant vice-chancellor for marine sciences. “His whole interest is in creating something that would be wonderful for the community,” she said.

Trustee Dede Dononvan replied, “I’m sure that’s true, but this building could still destroy more views for the community of La Jolla.”

If all approvals and permits are granted, site preparation and construction will start in October, with the date for completion set for November 2018.

The full Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Marine Conservation Facility is available at and comments may be forwarded to Alison Buckley, Campus Planning, UCSD 9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0074. For questions, contact Buckley at (858) 534-4464.

In other La Jolla Shores Association news:

Living & Learning Neighborhood: Delouri also spoke of the proposed six-building Living & Learning Neighborhood, which is to be a future educational hub at UCSD.

The 11-acre site on North Torrey Pines Road, just north of Muir Lane, will provide 2,000 beds for single undergraduate students, new instruction and research space for departments and programs within the divisions of social sciences and arts and humanities, general assignment classrooms and community spaces such as a dining hall and retail.

Trustee Janie Emerson commented, “When we took that tour a couple years ago, and they were talking about building new housing, one of the comments was, ‘Please don’t make it a concrete corridor where all the highrises go all the way down the street.’ We requested when you do something like that, don’t put the huge buildings on the road, put them central to campus.”

Eric Lindebak of Safdie Rabines, one of the architectural firms involved in the design of the project, said architects were taking mass breaking into consideration. “We’ve done a number of things ... to create a reduced sense of scale, all buildings have a three-, four- or five-story terrace level, so there’s a real effort to try to give that human scale at the street level.”

LJSA board member John Sheridan aired his concerns about traffic on North Torrey Pines Road when the project is complete. Delouri reassured him, “We have traffic studies and a lot of things on the way. It’s an adjustment of what we have on campus … it’s a redistribution.”

Zoning proposal: Unrelated to the Living & Learning Neighborhood project, Lindebak gave a presentation about the draft zoning proposal that La Jolla community activists, planners and developers are working on to avoid the ongoing process of “mansionization” in different areas of town. LJSA trustees Emerson and Dave Gordon, who also serve in the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee, agreed with the general concept of the proposal, but offered their input on how to improve the document. “We’re happy to take in feedback, we wrote down your comments, because we think the best way (to pass this) is to get as much feedback from everybody,” Lindebak said.

— LJSA meets 6:30 p.m. second Wednesdays at 8840 Biological Grade.