Hillel Center Moves Forward With Project After Lawsuit Win

Hillel of San Diego’s path to build a long-planned center for Jewish life adjacent to UC San Diego appears to be clear after a lawsuit, filed by the Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use to disable the planned center altogether, was thrown out.  San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor ruled in favor of the San Diego City Council’s approval of Hillel’s project, known as the Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center for Jewish Life. This center would cultivate community by providing Jewish students and the public, a place to study, learn, and connect with others.

Last October, the City of San Diego approved Hillel’s awaited project to begin construction of a center for Jewish community on a vacant triangular lot located across the street from the southwest corner of Roger Revelle College. The plan for this center includes three buildings totalling 6,500 square feet, which will surround a central courtyard. TRLU, an organization comprised of one listed member, claimed that the approval for this project infringed upon residential zoning laws within the La Jolla community despite the City’s unanimous approval.

“TRLU’s lawsuit was a baseless attempt to further delay the Hillel project,” Executive Director of Hillel and Rabbi David Singer said. “TRLU has argued without proof and contrary to the opinion of every expert and city leader that the center would have a negative impact on the neighborhood.” According to its website, TRLU opposes this project because of the “potential impacts to aesthetics, community character, land use, traffic, parking, and growth.”

In response to TRLU’s efforts to move the center elsewhere, Taylor said, “We don’t do that in the United States. That is evocative of Eastern Europe and not appropriate.”

Funding for the Hillel center is based solely on the contributions made by members and alumni of the non-profit organization, along with friends in the surrounding community. Hillel has a campaign goal of $15 million. So far, it has raised $12.5 million with a $5 million contribution by Joseph Glickman (a neighbor of Hillel, community leader, and philanthropist) before he passed away this May. Glickman, who was dearly referred to as “Chickie,” believed that creating this center would build community, inspire leadership, and develop relationships among the hundreds of participants in Hillel programs. Singer said this facility will make a positive impact on the surrounding community by turning an empty lot into a picturesque landscape between the busy La Jolla streets while also providing a public park-like area with pedestrian access.  

“We are especially delighted that our project will serve as a welcoming beacon of inclusivity at the entrance to La Jolla, a neighborhood that once forbade Jewish ownership,” President of the Board of Directors of Hillel of San Diego Joel Smith said.

La Jolla has a history of widespread restrictive housing policies toward Jewish people since the 1960s. The Real Estate Brokers’ Association played a large role in making sure Jewish people were not able to purchase homes in La Jolla and also made it difficult for them to have success with other real estate agencies in the area.

The architect of the Hillel community center is actively proceeding with the design drawings and is working to get construction “shovel ready” as quickly as possible. At this time, it is unclear when the center will be finished and open to students and the public.

To commemorate the start of Hanukkah, Hillel will be hosting an event on the property on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. It will also serve as a celebration of its legal victory, as well as kick off its public fundraising campaign.


photo courtesy of UCSDhillel.org