Battle Over Airspace Stresses Need for Recognition of Local Plight

    The long-standing campus goal of establishing transfer
    housing is heading full-steam for a crash into our neighborhood’s gliderport.
    And what a shame this crash is, provided the campus loses a lot either way the
    situation turns. If the Torrey Pines Gliderport is able to block construction
    of UCSD’s 14-story transfer housing, the campus loses its chance to strengthen
    a highly underrepresented community. But if the lofty 14-story transfer housing
    structure is erected, it will draw the ire of many locals.

    A student perspective, which should welcome the
    transfer-student presence the project would support, obscures the seemingly
    irrelevant gliderport. But there are consequences to brushing aside the local
    voices fighting to keep the airways intact. As the campus plans expansion, we
    could later find use for the local ties strained by today’s struggle — a
    compromise needs to be reached, and that means a lot of middle ground to cover.

    To UCSD’s credit, in 2004 officials included housing plans
    in a Long Range Development Plan and offered opportunities for the public to
    comment on projects such as transfer housing. There was no protest, then.

    Now, the gliderport’s supporters find themselves fighting an
    uphill battle. The multimillion-dollar project broke ground earlier this month,
    and has a support base upward of 20,000. (Who on this campus would not love to
    see transfer housing?)

    Accommodating the gliderport would be “costly, and it would
    cause delays for no apparent reason,” said UCSD Director of Community Planning
    Milton Phegley.

    However important the end-goal is, there is an “apparent
    reason” for rethinking the venture: While the building site could move, the
    gliders’ favored and safest airway is immobile. Moving forward with the project
    would distance the campus as a “member of the community,” said Gary Fogel, a
    director for the Associated Glider Clubs of Southern California.

    There were opportunities to nip this conflict in the bud:
    Instead of a full-blown environmental study, like officials conducted for
    University House, UCSD opted for a “mitigated negative declaration.” This route
    might as well be “pay-as-you-go” — even if environmental impacts are unearthed
    during the project’s development, the problems would only be “mitigated.” A
    half-hearted approach to conflict-solving will alienate our surrounding area.
    The campus should have learned from its handling of last year’s incident
    involving Hillcrest Medical Center, where officials pushed to shift manpower
    from Hillcrest Medical Center to La Jolla’s Thornton Hospital, only to be
    thwarted by an uproarious public at the 11th hour. The episode highlighted the
    importance of community relations.

    Though Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and the campus have labored
    over finalizing a home for transfer students, we must all realize the power of
    acknowledgement; acknowledging the community strain this project presents, even
    in the face of a worthy goal, would go far toward proving ourselves worthy of
    La Jolla.

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