City Council says Hillel yes
by Adriane Tillman
May 11, 2006 | 651 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents of single-family homes will share a section of their neighborhood with University of California, San Diego (UCSD) students, as city council voted 6-2 to sell an unused piece of property to Hillel, a student Jewish group, on Tuesday, May 9. More than 500 people filled every seat at the Museum of Contemporary Art's Sherwood Auditorium to debate the controversial issue that has dragged on for six years. Known as site 653, the vacant, 15,341-square-foot, triangular-shaped city-owned property is located at the intersections of La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla Scenic Drive North and La Jolla Scenic Way.Opponents said that the student center would clog the neighborhood with cars and violate the La Jolla Community Plan that zones the area for a single-family residence. Suggestions were made to convert the area to open space.Two opponents even made offers to buy the property from the city for $1.2 and $1.3 million, respectively. The city sold the property to Hillel for $940,000. Proponents of the project countered that university visitors already congest the streets, and that the underground parking lot, coupled with a shared parking agreement and shuttle service with the university, would suffice. Furthermore, the development would brighten the unused, weed-infested corner of the neighborhood and benefit the city economically. Local residents both supported and opposed locating the Hillel center in their neighborhood. La Jolla's seven advisory groups, including the La Jolla Community Planning Association, the University Community Planning Group and the city's planning commission, all recommended denial. Suggestions that anti-Semitism played a role in the planning groups and neighbors' opposition to the project were made by some project supporters.Contestants to the project repeatedly insisted that they opposed the location of Hillel, not the actual Jewish group. "In any group of people there are bigots, but that's not what's motivating these people," said District 1 City Councilman Scott. "We need to keep our eye on the fact that this is a land issue." Peters made a motion to approve transferring the property to Hillel with 24 conditions attached. Capacity cannot exceed 250 people, or 400 for special events, which are limited to six during the first year. A minimum of 68 parking spaces must be provided on-site. If the university cancels the shared parking agreement, which can be cancelled at any time with prior notice, capacity is limited to 120 occupants.Hillel will pay Neighborhood Code Compliance to enforce the conditions through an initial $20,000 deposit, followed by a yearly $10,000 payment, or whatever is needed. "This is the first time that I have ever disagreed with my own planning group," Peters said. "I've convinced myself that the restrictions will prevent the issues with Adat Yeshurun from arising again."Congregation Adat Yeshurun did not deliver on its promise to build a parking lot for its congregants and the city has not enforced the pledge, Peters admitted. Instead, cars line North and South Scenic Drive on the Jewish Sabbath. As for alternative uses, Peters doesn't believe the site is conducive to open space and the fire department prefers to locate a fire station in South University City, he said. Regardless of the Hillel project, neighbors need to begin the discussion about how to control parking in their neighborhoods, Peters said. Residents will find themselves continuously squeezed by parking overflow from the university, as it expects to grow by 10,000 students in the next 10 years, according to Peters. "That issue is not going away," Peters said. District 6 City Councilwoman Donna Frye voted to deny the center since she couldn't "make findings that the use is compatible with the single-family uses that surround the project."
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