UCSD proposes additional entry for Venter Institute

By Pat Sherman

UC San Diego Principal Community Planner Anu Delouri told those attending the March 7 meeting of the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) that UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and other university officials decided to add an additional entryway to the J. Craig Venter Institute, in response to concerns from residents about traffic impacts from the project’s lone driveway off Torrey Pines Road.

The 45,000-square-foot genetic research laboratory is under construction and scheduled to open in October at the southwest corner of Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Village Drive. UCSD officials hope to assuage concerns and ease the amount of traffic entering and exiting off Torrey Pines with the addition of a second entrance on Expedition Way, the road leading to Birch Aquarium.

The Expedition Way entrance is currently in the design phase, Delouri said. UCSD officials are working with California Coastal Commission staff to obtain approval for a required amendment to the permit.

“We have to do an amendment to the environmental document as well, so that process is also underway,” Delouri said, noting that the Venter Institute would likely open before the new entry is complete.

Outgoing LJCPA trustee Tim Lucas inquired about the institute’s intended level of student internships and collaborations, which were noted in the project application. The Venter Institute’s Chief Operating Officer, Robert Freidman, said the building occupancy is 125 people, though there are only 112 parking spaces. He expects about 75 to 80 people to occupy the building at any given time, including UCSD students, many of which Delouri said would walk to the institute from campus.

“One of the goals of our moving (near) campus is to enhance those (student) collaborations,” Freidman said. Trustee Fran Zimmerman expressed concerns that the entry off Torrey Pines Road was just a few feet from Allen Field park, which is frequented by families and regular site for youth soccer games.

A suggestion was made that at the LJCPA’s April meeting, trustees discuss whether vehicles should only be permitted to access the Venter Institute’s Torrey Pines Road entry via a right turn.