UCSD changes expansion project name and some details; La Jolla Shores Association still opposed

A rendering depicts UC San Diego's planned Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood.
(UC San Diego)

A UC San Diego expansion project has undergone changes in name and description, but whatever the name, the La Jolla Shores Association is continuing to move forward with its opposition.

The UCSD Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood, formerly named the Future College Living and Learning Neighborhood, is designed to house 2,000 students in five buildings ranging from nine to 21 stories tall, with space for a conference center, hotel rooms, classrooms and retail, plus a 1,200-space parking garage underneath. The addition is proposed for La Jolla Village Drive at North Torrey Pines Road.

The expansion is planned as part of UCSD’s 2018 Long-Range Development Plan, created in response to state mandates to increase enrollment.

The new name “reflects the location [in proximity to the La Jolla Playhouse and UCSD’s department of dance and theater], UC San Diego’s arts presence and goal of furthering social and cultural enrichment,” UCSD associate director of communications Leslie Sepuka said in an email to the Light.

At the July 8 meeting of the La Jolla Shores Association, the group’s president, Janie Emerson, offered a reminder of LJSA’s concerns with the project, including potential traffic congestion and environmental impacts and what the group sees as the university’s lack of cooperation with the community.

The university says it has reached out to community groups several times about the project over the years and that design changes have resulted.

In the next chapter of the La Jolla Shores Association fight against UC San Diego’s plans for the Future College Living & Learning Neighborhood, the community group has started a petition and retained legal counsel in a serious effort to delay the university’s construction timelines.

April 21, 2020

The project includes “general assignment classrooms, a 480-seat auditorium, meeting space, restaurants and retail space” for a total of 900,000 square feet, according to details available at

“The original presentation had one small restaurant,” Emerson said, and “the lot is now described as 11.8 acres instead of 10.9.”

The plan also calls for “enhanced campus entry at the Revelle College Drive intersection,” along with a valet drop-off zone, a transit hub for shuttles and public transport vehicles and “recreation/outdoor wellness spaces …throughout the site.”

“The project has changed,” Emerson said. It will be presented to the University of California Board of Regents at its September meeting, a delay from the originally planned July presentation. The project’s FAQ link states it “is currently in the design phase, pending UC Regent approval, with the goal of opening in the fall of 2023.”

Sepuka said that “when the project was awarded to the design team in 2019, the initial project phase lot size was 10.9 acres. As the project progressed through the design phase, refinements such as utility improvements, construction laydown areas and road improvements caused an increase in acreage to 11.8. For example, the updated acreage now encompasses the La Jolla Playhouse drop-off area, which is intended to improve the overall visitor experience.”

A rendering shows UCSD's planned Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood.
A rendering shows UCSD’s planned Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood, formerly called the Future College Living and Learning Neighborhood.

Emerson said “we’re going to put up a new petition” and change the GoFundMe page that asks for contributions toward LJSA’s April retention of legal counsel to oppose the project. The change will include the development’s new name “so people won’t be confused,” she said.

The petition is to show “UCSD that more people care about this project,” Emerson said in an earlier interview.

“We’re still raising money for the attorney,” she said, “and we need people to get the word out. We need to keep pushing forward on this.”

LJSA board member Brian Earley said he hopes someone will “rethink this development. It’ll push this community of La Jolla into a smaller corner.”

He asked why San Diego had to be “the capital for the UC system,” and other board members interjected ideas for UC expansion into sparser areas in Northern and Central California to alleviate congestion.

“We need to keep pushing on this,” Emerson said. “There’s a lot we can do here as a community; we just need to keep working at it. All of us.” ◆