Coastal Commission approves construction of Ridge Walk North neighborhood on UCSD campus

A rendering depicts the Ridge Walk North Living and Learning Neighborhood planned for UC San Diego in La Jolla.
(UC San Diego )

The project includes housing for 2,400 undergraduates, administrative and teaching space and more, with four buildings standing six to 18 stories tall.


The California Coastal Commission gave its support May 10 to development of UC San Diego’s Ridge Walk North Living and Learning Neighborhood, a new mixed-use project of more than 926,000 square feet on the La Jolla campus.

The Ridge Walk plan would demolish more than 131,000 square feet of existing structures to make way for housing for 2,400 undergraduate students, plus administrative and teaching space for Thurgood Marshall College, the School of Global Policy and Strategy and the Department of Economics. There will be 19 new classrooms, a dining center and a 150-seat lecture hall.

The project’s four buildings will stand six to 18 stories tall. The development also includes new pathways, stormwater infrastructure and landscaping on a 20.9-acre site west of Geisel Library. Construction is scheduled to start this summer and be completed in late 2025.

The item was listed on the Coastal Commission’s consent agenda and thus was approved without a presentation or discussion. However, Chairwoman Donne Brownsey had questions about whether additional bike racks could be installed and whether the charging stations planned for electric bikes were sufficient. UCSD representatives indicated they would take the questions to the design team for consideration.

In March, the UC Board of Regents gave UCSD permission to construct Ridge Walk North as part of a plan to also build a student center at a total cost of $1.1 billion.

According to a report submitted to the Coastal Commission, Ridge Walk North would be between Genesee Avenue to the north, La Jolla Village Drive to the south, North Torrey Pines Road to the west and Interstate 5 to the east.

The project would be near a portion of a grove of eucalyptus trees that is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and California Register of Historical Resources. Therefore, in approving the development, the commission imposed a series of conditions, many of them centered on environmental preservation.

A monarch butterfly wintering site has been identified in eucalyptus trees within the grove, and one of the conditions calls for monarch butterfly surveys and monitoring to avoid impacts on butterflies from vegetation removal or construction in the grove.

Additionally, at the request of commission staff, UCSD has proposed to plant milkweed and nectar plants within 1,000 feet of the project site for monarchs that visit the grove area. Thus, another condition requires the university to submit a plan including the location and species of the plants and the quantities of milkweed and nectar plants to be installed. Also, no pesticide, insecticide or rodenticide is to be used near the plantings.

One condition requires monitoring for bird nests before and during construction as precautions regarding noise and habitat protection. And because the height of the structures increases the risk of bird strikes, another condition requires the project to take bird strike prevention measures as part of the final design.

Other conditions address irrigation, lighting and more.

To learn more about Ridge Walk North, visit and click on “View current projects.” ◆