Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use is a non-profit 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the special community of La Jolla.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the currently proposed project for Site 653?
In response to the 2009 Appellate Court ruling requiring Hillel to prepare an Environmental Impact Report, Hillel submitted a proposal for a new facility in October 2010. Accordingly, Hillel of San Diego is requesting a Site Development Permit and Public Right-of-Way Vacation for the phased construction of two one-story buildings and one two-story building around a central outdoor courtyard space, a surface parking lot, and a landscaped area. The project proposes to be accomplished in two phases as Hillel is currently occupying an existing on-site single family house.
Phase I would consist of the continued operation of religious administrative offices in the existing single family residence located at 8976 Cliffridge Avenue on an approximately 0.2 acre parcel. Phase II would consist of the construction of new structures and the parking log on the approximately 0.8 acre adjacent vacant lot and public right-of-way.
The purpose of the public right-of-way vacation is to increase the lot size and make use of unutilized land. The proposed project would have an overall building square footage of approximately 6,600 square feet.
The project site is bounded to the north by La Jolla Village Drive, to the east by La Jolla Scenic Way and to the south by La Jolla Scenic Drive. The project site is within a Single Family Zone of the La Jolla Shores Planned District, Coastal Height Limit Overlay Zone, Campus Parking Impact Overlay Zone, and the La Jolla Community Planning Area.
2. Where is Site 653?
Site 653 is a 3/4-acre (33,000 square feet) triangle of land near the intersection of La Jolla Village Drive and Torry Pines Road across the street from the south-west corner of the U.C. San Diego Revelle College campus in La Jolla
3. What are the impacts of the project on aesthetics and community character?
Hillel previously proposed a 12,100 square foot structure, 22 feet high, on a portion of the lot that was elevated up to 14 feet above the adjacent street. Hillel has attempted to reduce the impact on the surrounding area by reducing the size of the buildings and moving the buildings to the southwest area of the lot. These changes have done little to reduce impacts on aesthetics and community character. Hillel may have reduced the gross floor area of the buildings, but the structure is now 28 feet high on a site that is 3 feet above adjacent properties and 10 feet above La Jolla Village Drive and La Jolla Scenic Way. In fact, Hillel has redesigned the project in a way that has a far more significant impact on aesthetics and community character by raising the site three feet on the southwest portion of the site and raising the building height six feet.
No other structure in this neighborhood south of La Jolla Village Drive exceeds 22 feet in height. The proposed student center is six feet higher than any other structure in the adjacent residential community and nearly three times the size. The project site is a prominent site, considered the gateway to the La Jolla Highlands, a community characterized by low profile single family residences. There is little doubt the proposed student center will have a significant impact on aesthetics and community character.
4. What are the impacts of the project on land use?
Hillel is proposing the construction of a student center that includes student lounges, office space, meeting rooms, study areas, a library, a large kosher kitchen and conference space. In addition, Hillel is currently using the existing single family residence located at 8976 Cliffridge Avenue as administrative offices for Hillel of San Diego, an organization that encompasses Hillel activities throughout the County. Hillel describes its activities as small study groups, lectures, meetings, student computer access and general administrative activities. Nowhere does Hillel describe its activities as primarily for religious purposes. In fact, it is clear that the Hillel Student Center provides a resource to allow Jewish students at UCSD to learn and immerse themselves in the Jewish culture, but will not provide religious services. Consistent with this purpose, Hillel has provided the parking necessary to serve offices, meeting rooms and a library, but has failed to provide the parking necessary for religious purposes.
The student center proposed is not allowed in the single family zone of the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (“LJSPDO”) because it is not being used primarily for religious purposes. Hillel cannot “have their cake and eat it too” by relying on the exception in the LJSPDO for buildings used primarily for religious purposes, then fail to meet the general requirements for buildings used primarily for religious purposes. Similarly, the proposed use of 8976 Cliffridge Avenue solely for administrative offices is a use that is not permitted in this single family residential zone in any situation.
Regardless of the project’s inherent inconsistency with the underlying zoning ordinance; this project represents a use that is inherently incompatible with the adjacent single family residential neighborhood. This parcel is not suitable for development because of its location and size. It is a triangular shaped lot heavily constrained on all three sides by the existing road system. Hillel is attempting to “shoe horn” a project on the site that is significantly out of scale with the surrounding residential neighborhood. The project cannot comply with the City’s street design manual and will be forced to take access too close to the intersection of La Jolla Village Drive and La Jolla Scenic Way or too close to the acute angle of the intersection of La Jolla Scenic Way and La Jolla Scenic Drive North.
For decades, various members of the City staff have maintained the project site should remain open space due to the constraints related to its location and access. Hillel is now proposing to place a student center on a project site that is the gateway to the La Jolla Highlands community. The proposed student center is six feet higher and three times as large as most of the single family residences in the surrounding neighborhood. The site is so constrained that Hillel is not able to provide adequate parking, is not able to provide adequate sight distance and must place the entrance driveway within 140 feet of one of the most constrained intersections in the City of San Diego.
Additionally, the proposed student center requires the vacation of 17,923 square feet of right of way in order to develop Phase II. The area proposed for vacation is currently used either as a public street or for open space purposes. Indeed, the well worn path across the undeveloped area to be vacated is indicative of the public’s current use for open space and pedestrian purposes. Similarly, Hillel’s proposed student center will require a reduction in the street width of La Jolla Scenic Drive North from 36 feet to 34 feet curb to curb. Again, this is a heavily used street that provides parking for a variety of vehicles.
5. What are the impacts of the project on traffic, circulation and parking?
The Court of Appeal held the previously proposed project could have a significant impact on traffic and parking. Although somewhat reduced, the currently proposed project will have similar impacts. The currently proposed project would place a driveway on a collector street in proximity to a heavily congested intersection. Additionally, the student center is being designed for intensive use, and could create significantly higher levels of traffic in the residential area.
Hillel is proposing a reduction from 68 parking spaces to 27 parking spaces, a 60% reduction, while the building size has been reduced from 12,100 square feet to 6,600 square feet, a 35% reduction. If the project is to be considered a building used primarily for religious purposes, the project must be required to meet the parking standards for religious uses. The applicant is currently proposing 27 parking spaces, leaving the project grossly underparked under the standards applicable to buildings used for religious purposes.
It is inevitable the project will have impacts on traffic, circulation and parking, given the location and configuration of the project site and the size of the proposed development.
6. What are the impacts of the project on growth?
The original plans for the University established La Jolla Village Drive as the boundary between University activities and the surrounding community. This project will set a precedent for allowing University uses to encroach into the residential neighborhoods.
7. Who is the attorney?
Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use is represented by attorney Julie M. Hamilton. Ms. Hamilton has successfully negotiated and litigated complex disputes on behalf of numerous non-profit environmental organizations and community groups throughout California. She has successfully handled matters related to wetland habitat restoration, groundwater, CEQA, Coastal Act, water quality, telecommunications, endangered species and solid waste. More information can be found at www.jmhamiltonlaw.com.
8. How can I stay informed?
9. How can I help?
Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use needs your help! TRLU is a 501(c)(4)* tax-exempt non-profit organization. Your donation will help further TRLU’s mission to protect the special community of La Jolla.
Please contribute by sending your check or money order made payable to:
Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use
P.O. Box 523
La Jolla, California 92038
*501(c)(4) organizations are tax-exempt and non-profit. Such organizations may lobby for legislation and participate in political campaigns and elections. Contributions to 501(c)(4) organizations are not tax deductible. However, donations do not have to be disclosed publicly.