Chabad project denied

Great project, wrong location.

That message was delivered yet again by La Jollans at the La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting last week when members voted 14-0 to recommend disapproval of the controversial Chabad project.

Community planners denied the project, proposed for property at 2466 Hidden Valley Road, saying its bulk and scale would be out of scale with the surrounding community, that parking specified for its multiple uses would be inadequate, and that traffic generated from the project would add to existing congestion.

Chabad’s plan calls for tearing down the rabbi’s existing single-family home and replacing it with a three-level facility to include an 11,666-square-foot rabbi’s residence on the upper level, a 96-seat religious sanctuary, and 16-student pre-school on the ground floor with 33 underground parking spaces.

Chabad’s reasoning

Chabad spokesman Ron Buckley told the board that no activities would be held at Chabad during morning and evening peak traffic periods to minimize traffic impacts.

He added the city doesn’t require all possible uses to be factored into parking required for the facility, just a worst-case scenario for the busiest time, Saturday religious services.

“This is not a referendum on whether or not this particular site should be a place of worship,” said Darcy Ashley, the planning group’s secretary. “I was really stunned at how dangerous that (Throat) intersection really is. You (Chabad) should choose a site that doesn’t come with all the challenges on this intersection.”

‘Not the right place’

Association President Joe LaCava said, “This may not be the right place for this use, but religious use is allowed in La Jolla Shores.”

Planner Jim Fitzgerald doesn’t believe exceptions should be made in the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (PDO), which governs development in the community, to accommodate Chabad.

“I don’t think we in the planning group have the luxury of ignoring the PDO,” he said.

Fitzgerald also questioned traffic studies that said the already low rating would not be made worse by the development.

“I just have a hard time accepting that it’s already at an F level,” he said, “and that this project only makes it a little bit more of an F.”