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Shores Association joins fellow La Jolla group in asking UC regents to delay decision on UCSD project

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

The La Jolla Shores Association voted to urge the University of California Board of Regents to postpone a decision on UC San Diego’s planned Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood, following a La Jolla Community Planning Association decision to make a similar request.

TDLLN, a proposed UCSD expansion as part of the university’s 2018 Long Range Development Plan, is planned for La Jolla Village Drive at North Torrey Pines Road. It calls for five buildings ranging from nine to 21 stories tall and is designed to house 2,000 students. It also includes a conference center, hotel rooms, classrooms, retail and a 1,200-space parking garage underneath.

UCSD is slated to present the TDLLN project to the regents at their meeting Sept. 15-17 for approval to begin construction.

LJSA and LJCPA have opposed the project over concerns about its scope, environmental impacts and a perceived lack of communication from the university.

At the Shores Association’s Sept. 9 board meeting, President Janie Emerson updated LJSA on the Sept. 3 meeting of the Community Planning Association, during which UCSD was initially scheduled to give a presentation about the project. But the university withdrew the formal presentation in favor of a shorter update without a format for public comment.

LJCPA wrote a letter to the UC regents stating “what had happened, what they had tried to do and why the community wanted to interact,” Emerson said. The full letter can be found at bit.ly/CPAregentsletter.

After a complicated discussion at the Sept. 3 La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting about UC San Diego’s planned Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood, the group voted to send a letter to the UC Board of Regents asking that it withhold its impending vote on the project until the community has a chance to hear about the development in a public forum.

Emerson asked for a motion for LJSA to write its own letter expressing its concerns. The letter, Emerson later told the La Jolla Light, would “get into more specifics” than the LJCPA letter.

“We are not against UCSD,” Emerson said at the board meeting. “We are simply concerned about this project — its vastness, its impact on our environment and our life here.”

“It occurs to me that the university’s assumption and expectation is exactly like their email address: plan, design, build,” Emerson said. “And the La Jolla community’s perception is that we help with the planning so it works for both the community and the university. I think that’s where the communication disconnect has come in. I’m not sure how to solve it.”

Representatives of UCSD did not attend the meeting, but university associate director of communications Leslie Sepuka said in an email to the Light that “the fact is that several design features incorporated into the Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood are a direct result of community input,” citing open spaces, extra parking spaces, placement of “the highest points of the buildings furthest from the community edge” and orienting buildings along the public edge to reduce scale and mass.

The motion for an LJSA letter passed with two abstentions: Emerson, who as the president votes only to break a tie, and Mary Coakley Munk, whose late husband, Walter Munk, worked at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Coakley Munk always abstains on issues related to the university, she said.

LJSA board members Pam Boynton, Joe Dicks, Dede Donovan and Emerson will compose the letter, though Emerson encouraged all at the meeting to write their own letters to regentsoffice@ucop.edu.

The regents are scheduled to consider TDLLN at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, as part of the finance and capital strategies session. Emerson said she has registered to speak during the meeting. For the agenda or to view the meeting, visit bit.ly/regentsseptmtg.

Ahead of that meeting, LJSA board members and the association’s retained law firm are reviewing an addendum to the 2018 Long Range Development Plan environmental impact report, posted on the UCSD website plandesignbuild.ucsd.edu.

The environmental document, requested by LJSA in February, includes 3,000 pages of appendices and hopefully will address the association’s concerns about the impact TDLLN could have on the local environment, Emerson said.

“No one ... talks about the sewer, the water ... the increased carbon footprint,” Emerson said.

Depending on the regents’ action, a lawsuit based on the California Environmental Quality Act may be “on the table,” Emerson said.

“We aren’t the lone ranger here,” Emerson said, referring to lawsuits filed against UC Berkeley over that university’s planned $126 million redevelopment project for new campus housing and classrooms.

“We truly don’t want to go there if we’re not forced into it,” Emerson said. “What we’re asking for is a dialogue and true collaboration ... and move forward for the benefit of everybody.”

Sepuka said an Environmental Quality Act consistency analysis for the project was included as an addendum to the EIR and concluded that “the project is consistent with the 2018 LRDP EIR, and the project will not result in any new significant impacts.” ◆