Letters to the Editor


I am responding to the article “”Hillel Seeks to Buy Vacant UCSD Lot.””

The circumstances surrounding the development of this city-owned space parcel (not a “”UCSD lot””) are far more complex than have been presented in your article.

Residents of the La Jolla Highlands neighborhood recognize and respect Hillel’s desire to have its own facility to accommodate the social, religious, cultural and educational needs of its constituency. Opposition is based solely upon the proposed use of this site.

This site is zoned single-family residential (R-1) and has been designated “”open space”” or “”landscaped park”” in official planning documents over the past 25 years. Residents purchased their homes here with the expectations that zoning regulations would be upheld. In fact, there is a great deal of controversy concerning the process by which this property is now suddenly available for lease or sale, with priority given to nonprofit organizations.

The Hillel organization proposes to build a 10,000 square-foot center on this site. The proposed facility would accommodate hundreds of persons — not just UCSD students — for a variety of social activities and religious services, including meal service for 150 to 200 persons ar a time, at least weekly. The facility would be in use seven days a week, including evenings, weekends and holidays — sugesting a use more compatible within a commercial environment.

The increased volume of pedestrian and vehicular traffic drawn into the neighborhood by participants accessing the facility would significantly impact the quality of life of its residents due to additional traffic congestion, parking problems, noise and safety issues.

Similar Hillel facilities at UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and SDSU are not located in residential neighborhoods, but in densely populated student housing areas surrounded by fraternity houses, apartment buildings and commercial establishments.

The proposed student center does not conform to zoning regulations for this site and is not a compatible use within a single-family residential neighborhood. Further, institutional development of any kind on this site is not appropriate.

There are several possible solutions. First, Hillel could utilize existing facilities. Two synagogues are located in our neighborhood and withing walking distance of UCSD. The Jewish Community Center with its own Judaica library is also located neaer UCSD.

Second, UCSD plans to increase student meeting space on campus — with the possibility of an ecumenical center for use by all student/religious groups.

Third, other city-owned sites nearby may be available.

The full City Council will meet soon to discuss and vote upon this issue.

— Linda Smith

La Jolla Highlands Homeowners