LJCPA rejects Hillel EIR report as deficient
by DAVE SCHWAB
Feb 24, 2014 | 1392 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local planners rejected a draft environmental impact report for the proposed Hillel Jewish Student Center at this triangular parcel across from UCSD adjoining a single-family subdivision at the intersection of La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla Village Drive North and La Jolla Scenic Way. DAVE SCHWAB
Local planners rejected a draft environmental impact report for the proposed Hillel Jewish Student Center at this triangular parcel across from UCSD adjoining a single-family subdivision at the intersection of La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla Village Drive North and La Jolla Scenic Way. DAVE SCHWAB
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The Lolla Community Planning Association attached several conditions to the downsized Hillel project that had already been agreed upon by a subcommittee. 					DAVE SCHWAB
The Lolla Community Planning Association attached several conditions to the downsized Hillel project that had already been agreed upon by a subcommittee. DAVE SCHWAB
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Community planners cast a thumbs-down vote to plans which would lay the groundwork for redeveloping an estate-size parcel on Country Club Drive, as well as nixing a revised draft environmental impact report (EIR) for the controversial Hillel Jewish Student Center project, labeling it as deficient.

Those were the highlights of the Feb. 6 meeting of La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA). The advisory group makes land-use recommendations to the city.

La Jolla architect Jim Alcorn and Greg Shannon of Sedona Pacific Corporation presented plans to subdivide a 25-acre site, known as The Reserve, at 6850 Country Club Drive. The property is Copley Press’s sole remaining asset. Developers want it broken down into three separate parcels.

“Our strategy is to take the property and do a subdivision map according to design guidelines and sell two lots to a custom-home builder,” said Shannon.

He said 75 percent of the 25-acre site is designated open space, precluding development. Shannon said it would also be the ultimate responsibility of property homeowners to “maintain it [open space].”

Shannon said the current underlying zoning would allow as many as 100 units to be built on the site’s five developable acres. A third parcel onsite is already developed with offices, a gym and a greenhouse. 

Attorney Kevin Johnson, representing several neighboring property owners in La Jolla Summit concerned about the project, said the site is “physically unsuitable for development because it would disturb environmentally sensitive lands, including wildlife corridors.”

“An alternative analysis needs to be done to see if buildings should be in a different location,” Johnson continued. “This is a high-fire area which needs to be taken into consideration.”

Developers of The Reserve countered they’ve spent a lot of time going over fire and wildlife issues with the city, which is why a comprehensive set of design guidelines has been formulated to carefully direct development of the estate site.

Johnson said planners, if they were to accept the project as is, would essentially be “approving this footprint right now.”

“What you should be saying right now is you need more information,” Johnson said.

LCPA trustees agreed. After initialing voted 5-9-1 against approving the project as proposed, the board re-voted 14-0-1 in favor of a different motion requesting that an environmental impact report be done, as well as a substantial conformance review to determine if the proposed project would meet all applicable zoning and land-use provisions.

A draft EIR for a downsized Jewish student center — proposed on a triangular parcel across from UCSD adjoining a single-family La Jolla subdivision — was also nixed by a 12-1-1 vote of the LJCPA board.

Originally proposed in 2000 but significantly downscaled since, the project is on a remnant land parcel (Site 653) that neighbors insist should be kept as an open-space buffer between the university and residents.

Hillel representatives said the revised draft EIR for the project was being circulated “for an unprecedented third time.”

“We have made every effort to incorporate public input into designing a very high-quality project that will be an asset to the neighborhood,” said Michael Rabkin, Hillel’s executive director.

Rabkin described Hillel as “an independent religious corporation serving the religious needs of Jewish college students.”

Some neighbors didn’t agree with Rabkin’s perception of the project, arguing the facility would be a Jewish student center serving the needs of the university, not the surrounding neighborhood.

Neighbor Ross Starr said the proposed Hillel Center for Jewish Life “is not really a church, temple or building used for religious purposes. On the contrary, it is a student activity center, not a religious institution.”

Attorney Julie Hamilton, representing neighbors opposed to the Hillel project, characterized the project’s design analysis and EIR as “completely deficient.”

LJCPA trustees voted overwhelming to attach several conditions agreed to previously by a subcommittee, which determined that a number of environmental issues in the Hillel EIR still need to be addressed. Among them are the building’s seating capacity, increased traffic in the area, the adequacy of onsite parking and tall windows in the buildings, which could create light pollution spilling over into the adjacent residential neighborhood.
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