Planning group rejects Hillel plan


La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) members last week voted unanimously against a slightly retooled version of the Hillel project, the Jewish student center planned for a small lot across from UCSD.

On a 14-0 vote, the group, which advises the city council, agreed with the majority of speakers who said the 12,100-square-foot center was not consistent with the character of the single-family neighborhood abutting the small triangular lot.

Despite the rejection, Joshua Richman, representing Hillel, said they would take the project to the city’s planning commission in October.

More than 30 people signed up to speak against the project, said the LJCPA chairman Joe La Cava.

One of those was Debra Shaul, a new resident in the neighborhood who said she is familiar with Hillel.

The noise from students would have an “extraordinary effect on the quiet every Friday night and on High Holidays,” she said.

While she noted, “They aren’t going out of their way to be rude, just living their lives like college students do,” she said she feared the change would “be dangerous in the long run.”

Richman told the planners and the standing-room only audience at the La Jolla Recreation Center that the building will take up 36 percent of the lot size” with the remaining part of the lot a combination of landscaping, including 60 or more large Torrey pines, and sidewalks.

Parking would be accommodated by 68 underground spaces, including 28 lifts, he said. In addition, overflow parking for more than 200 vehicles on busy Friday nights, during Jewish holidays and special events would be provided via an agreement with UCSD enabling them to use campus lots.

Special events at the proposed student center would be restricted to six the first year, eight the second, Richman noted.

But the changes weren’t enough for the planning group members, who said the loss of a neighborhood street would hurt the neighborhood and that parking was insufficient.

Oliver Jones, another resident who lives near the site, said the project’s status was complicated by being contested in the court.

“This proposal creates a non-resident, high-facility use in a zoned single-family residence,” he said. “We have the data to show this is a commercially zoned, multi-use activity. … The residents in the area are excluded.”

Richman added Hillel’s fine-tuning on the project was made to address court rulings which expressed concern over biological issues involving raptors, as well as traffic.

La Jolla Shores resident Mary Coakley said the community has spoken with “one mind” on the Hillel project proposal.

“I’d just like to remind everybody that the decision on this project is going to have far-reaching impact, not only on the community that surrounds it, but on the entire city of San Diego. This actually is designated parkland. Every committee in La Jolla has voted solidly against it - and that very seldom happens.”