Civic Report >> La Jolla Community Planning Association, Jan. 8
by Dave Schwab
Jan 24, 2014 | 2312 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Expected to be a free-for-all over a controversial Jewish community center, the Jan. 8 La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) meeting turned into a debate over what constitutes a basement and held a discussion of sea lion proliferation at La Jolla Cove.

The advisory group’s Jan. 8 headline item, discussion of the draft environmental impact report for Hillel Center for Jewish Life proposed across from UCSD, was trailed until February. A representative for Hillel, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, complained the group had only learned that day its EIR was on the agenda, noting it was unprepared to comment, adding there was “nothing new to report.” Public review on the project’s environmental document has been extended until Feb. 11.

This is the second go-round for the proposed Jewish student center, originally proposed in 2000 on a triangular-shaped remnant of land (Site 659) that neighbors insist should be kept as an open-space buffer separating the university and the adjoining single-family subdivision.

Hillel’s revamped plans have cut the size of its proposed building in half, breaking up its bulk into three separate buildings and adding an open-space park for community benefit.

Hillel is asking for a street vacation, a site development permit and a use permit for its administrative office at 8976 Cliffridge Ave.

Though the project has been downscaled, some strong public opposition remains, with neighbors contending the center doesn’t belong in their neighborhood.

Also on Jan. 8, LJCPA voted 13-3-1 against recommending a proposed mixed-use, commercial retail-residential development at 7610 Girard Ave.

Developers are seeking permitting to build eight condo units and one 5,125-square-foot commercial condo unit on a currently vacant 0.27-acre site near the Vons shopping center.

The proposed development is in a zone where the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance (PDO) does not allow three stories. Developers contend their plans constitute two stories of development above a basement with subterranean parking.

Architect Paul Benton, who heads an LJCPA subcommittee that reviewed the mixed-use project, gave a slideshow presentation detailing why some people believe the project constitutes three stories rather than two.

From the audience, La Jollan Sally Miller questioned the project’s viability.

“Why are you constructing a subterranean place when they’ve proven to be a failure?” she asked.

“Whether you call it a basement, a ground floor or a catacomb, it doesn’t make a difference,” said LJCPA trustee Jim Fitzgerald. “It’s a three-story building in an area that does not permit three stories.”

In other action, community activist Mike Costello, a skin diver, gave a slideshow presentation discussing the life cycle of sea lions showing how the pinniped population has mushroomed over the past 40 or 50 years in and around La Jolla Cove.

Costello’s photos showed once-brown rocks now heavily whitewashed with pinniped and bird waste. He suggested a letter be sent to the city by the advisory group advocating that a comprehensive study be done of La Jolla’s beaches and rocky shores.

LJCPA trustee Ray Weiss, a Scripps Institution professor, warned such a study would “have holes in it and not be scientific.”

LJCPA vice chairman Joe LaCava said he didn’t see much to be gained by writing another letter to the city.

“Let’s not get bogged down in the seal wars,” LaCava said. “We need to find a permanent solution to the stench at La Jolla Cove that does not result in any other La Jolla beaches being compromised.”
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