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Planning commission rejects Hillel plan

After lengthy debate, the city Planning Commission voted 4-1, with one member absent, Thursday against recommending approval of the controversial Hillel proposal.

The plans call for a 12,100-square-foot Jewish student center on a small triangular lot, Site 653, across from La Jolla Village Drive and UCSD adjacent to a single-family neighborhood.

Neighbors have argued the bulk and scale of the project, which calls for providing 68 subterranean parking spaces, is out of character with the surrounding community and would add to existing problems, including lack of parking and traffic congestion.

Planning uses allowed in the Site 653 area include permanent structures with religious uses. However, in arriving at their decision, planning commissioners, including La Jolla architect Tim Golba, questioned whether the proposed facility was not, in fact, primarily a student center, with ancillary religious use on a limited basis.

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It was also noted that the site would not be available for use by neighbors or the general public.

Golba also asked about Hillel’s plan to use car lifts in its underground parking garage to achieve the 68 required parking spaces. He said the size and height specifications for car lifts didn’t pencil out and would not work.

The planning commission’s recommendation will be forward to the city council, which will hear the Hillel matter at a later date.