La Jolla Hillel revisions aren’t enough for neighbors


By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

A Hillel student center half the size of that originally proposed for a La Jolla lot continued to draw strident opposition at a city-sponsored meeting on the project Oct. 27.

About 20 people, many neighbors in the single-family neighborhood adjacent to the project’s 0.8-acre triangular parcel site across La Jolla Village Drive from UCSD, weighed in on what issues should be considered in a proposed Environmental Impact Report for the project.

“What you’ve seen in the past was 13,000 square feet and now it’s roughly 6,600 square feet,” Project architect Mark Steele said. “Before it had an assembly room gathering space for religious purposes. That entire function is gone, no longer part of this facility.”

Despite the changes, nearly everyone at the meeting had something to say about the project — all negative. The main environmental issues raised concerned potential impacts on community character, traffic, parking and safety.

Ross Starr, who lives nearby, passed out a “checklist” of objections to the project’s particulars: inadequate parking, violation of La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance, the project’s precedent-setting nature and alleged invalid right-of-way vacation.

John Berol, a former member of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, said “the residential character of the neighborhood is the primary issue,” noting there’s concern about UCSD facilities “spilling over” into residential neighborhoods.”

Hillel is requesting a site development permit and public right-of-way vacation for two one-story buildings and one two-story building around a central outdoor courtyard space, a surface parking lot and a landscaped area.

The site is bounded to the north by La Jolla Village Drive, to the east by La Jolla Scenic Way and to the south by La Jolla Scenic Drive.

said there are a number of differences between Hillel’s current and past proposals.

Steele said the building space was halved to “make it fit in with the residential character of the neighborhood.”

He added that plans for underground parking in the facility have been dropped in favor of 27 surface spaces

Hillel is currently occupying a single-family house at 8976 Cliffridge Ave. adjacent to site and wants to build its new center in two phases.

The first would consist of continuing to operate the religious administrative offices in the existing residence on a 0.2-acre parcel. The house would be vacated and returned to its original residential use once the new structure is completed.

Phase II would consist of building new structures and the parking lot on the 0.8-acre lot and the public right-of-way.

The project has been designed to meet the standards required to obtain a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating.

City staffer Elizabeth Sherwood said this is just the beginning of public review on Hillel’s project and that the public has until Nov. 8 to submit comments on the project.