La Jolla says NO to new Hillel

Who needs enemies when we can find Jews who reject a new Hillel facility? Happy New Year!?

Planning group rejects Hillel plan
12:16 PM
By Dave Schwab – La Jolla Light

La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) members last week voted unanimously against a slightly retooled version of the Hillel project, the Jewish student center planned for a small lot across from UCSD.

On a 14-0 vote, the group, which advises the city council, agreed with the majority of speakers who said the 12,100-square-foot center was not consistent with the character of the single-family neighborhood abutting the small triangular lot.

Despite the rejection, Joshua Richman, representing Hillel, said they would take the project to the city’s planning commission in October.

More than 30 people signed up to speak against the project, said the LJCPA chairman Joe La Cava.

One of those was Debra Shaul, a new resident in the neighborhood who said she is familiar with Hillel.

The noise from students would have an “extraordinary effect on the quiet every Friday night and on High Holidays,” she said.

While she noted, “They aren’t going out of their way to be rude, just living their lives like college students do,” she said she feared the change would “be dangerous in the long run.”

Richman told the planners and the standing-room only audience at the La Jolla Recreation Center that the building will take up 36 percent of the lot size” with the remaining part of the lot a combination of landscaping, including 60 or more large Torrey pines, and sidewalks.

Parking would be accommodated by 68 underground spaces, including 28 lifts, he said. In addition, overflow parking for more than 200 vehicles on busy Friday nights, during Jewish holidays and special events would be provided via an agreement with UCSD enabling them to use campus lots.

Special events at the proposed student center would be restricted to six the first year, eight the second, Richman noted.

But the changes weren’t enough for the planning group members, who said the loss of a neighborhood street would hurt the neighborhood and that parking was insufficient.

Oliver Jones, another resident who lives near the site, said the project’s status was complicated by being contested in the court.

“This proposal creates a non-resident, high-facility use in a zoned single-family residence,” he said. “We have the data to show this is a commercially zoned, multi-use activity. … The residents in the area are excluded.”

Richman added Hillel’s fine-tuning on the project was made to address court rulings which expressed concern over biological issues involving raptors, as well as traffic.

La Jolla Shores resident Mary Coakley said the community has spoken with “one mind” on the Hillel project proposal.

“I’d just like to remind everybody that the decision on this project is going to have far-reaching impact, not only on the community that surrounds it, but on the entire city of San Diego. This actually is designated parkland. Every committee in La Jolla has voted solidly against it – and that very seldom happens.”

Dave Schwab
Dave Schwab is a reporter with the La Jolla Light. Contact Dave at (858) 875-5951 or

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5 Responses to La Jolla says NO to new Hillel

  1. Deborah Shaul says:

    Don’t comment on an issue about which you know nothing. The City of San Diego sold, without the due process necessary for all building in San Diego neighborhoods, land to Hillel. Hillel hopes to build a huge student facility two doors down from my home, where there are small children in virtually every house. They plan for 200-800 students but parking spots for 68; the facility offers no adequate parking, and is situated in a location that can cause not only traffic jams in this quiet, single family neighborhood, but also will expose the students who will walk to the facility to dangerous traffic patterns,

    I have a deep appreciation for all that Hillel has offered me and other Jewish students around the country, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for Rabbi Lisa Goldstein (the Hillel rabbi in San Diego), but none of the main supporters of this new student facility actually live in the area. They are not raising their families here, but they ask me and my neighbors to put our own children at risk while they deter larger buildings from being completed in their own SD neighborhoods. I have specifically been asked to “put the future of American Jewry ahead of your own family.” This, from a Hillel supporter who does not have to face that same conundrum, for he won’t have any large student buildings built next to his home. This issue is not an issue of anti Semitism, and to imply that is to demonstrate your own ignorance of the issue. Happy New Year to you, too.

  2. rabbiyonah says:

    Who said ANYTHING about anti-Semitism?

    Jews don’t want other Jews coming into their hood is a familiar story, sadly.

    Thanks for your comments, but truly that fact that Jews were the main opponents of the project that would help Jews is a fact that cannot be ignored.

  3. Jane Doe says:

    I think its despicable that San Diego prevented a Hillel building from being built. There are churches and church groups around campus. Quite frankly I think this is a violation of freedom of religion. If I were on the board, I would speak to the local courts, because it is preventing Jewish students from convening.

    • Deborah Shaul says:

      In answer to the last two listings: I wrote about anti-Semitism because of the accusations that went flying around the meeting and subsequent meetings downtown, the comments made to my Jewish neighbors who weren’t supportive of Hillel’s monstrous building plans. I’m not comfortable with the idea that being Jewish means I have to blindly favor any and all building projects designed by Jews, regardless of location and effectiveness for the neighborhood as a whole, as the email responses above infer. I was asked directly by a leading member of the Hillel board to put the future of the San Diego Jews ahead of the future of my Jewish children–when my children are going to be the ones who live and practice Judaism in the area, while the UCSD and SDSU students will move through every few years and go about their business elsewhere. I fully support Jewish education across campuses and across the world–in fact, I work assiduously in my own life to reinforce that fact–but agreeing to an oversized building in a single family home neighborhood does not automatically become part of that support. And to “Jane Doe,” you should actualy come to the meetings and learn something, for the property isn’t on the UCSD campus. It’s across the street from our homes, in a spot that would only add street and foot traffic at dangerous levels to the area. Jewish students aren’t prevented from convening anywhere–there are two amazing synagogues in the immediate vicinity (and only one church, by the way), and it’s not a freedom of religion issue. It’s a zoning issue. Once you make it about freedom of religion you change the entire tenor of the discussion.

  4. UCSD Alum says:

    Deborah I hear your concern and I understand your point of view, but only to an extent. It seems to me that the Hillel professionals and hired help who planned a new building did as well. The revised plans for the new building took less than 40% of the entire lot and included a park, bike trails, water fountains, and sidewalks not to mention gorgeous landscaping. The future of your Jewish children would be beautiful – a beautiful park nearby home vs an empty eye sore lot of land that has sat there as long as I can remember. Better yet whenever your child looks up at you inquisitively and asks, Mommy why are there so many people walking into that building every Friday night, you can happily answer that they are celebrating the Jewish tradition of Shabbat in a home that they had fought, worked, and wished for for years. Every time somebody brings up the too many cars, or too many people argument I’m baffled. When it comes to the vehicle issue – people will be clearly notified that there is not sufficient parking at the building and to not bring cars. There is a lot directly across the street – why even bother? And seeing as though there would be more than adequate space to accommodate many guests in the building, they would make their way inside for whatever purpose and keep external noise to a minimum aware of the fact that it took over 9 years and a million dollars to even get the right to build the structure they’d be sitting in. This doesn’t have to be a win or lose situation. I truly believe that both the neighbors of the beautiful La Jolla community, and the students of Hillel at UCSD can benefit from the construction of such a center and they should continue working towards a compromise that would benefit both sides. In fact, I’m sure if the neighbors cared enough they could push Hillel into a tiny little building and have a fantastic park with a pond, we’d settle for anything we can call a home. Give us at least that…

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