The UC San Diego Hillel Center for Jewish Life hit another roadblock on Thursday night. The La Jolla Community Planning Association denied the student-based religious organization’s site development plans for a proposed student religious center near the university and several other requests associated with development and continued operation.
The La Jolla Community Planning Association denied the application citing that the site development permit was noncompliant with code use in a residential neighborhood.
Michael Rabkin, executive director of Hillel of San Diego, and project architect Mark Steel, presented plans for a phased project of three-buildings, totaling 6,600 square feet on a vacant 0.76-acre site near UC San Diego. The proposed development and land would be used as a UC San Diego Jewish student center and is located on the south side of La Jolla Village Drive between Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Scenic Way.
“We have members of the community here who are Jewish students at UCSD, who need and deserve a permanent religious space,” said Rabkin Thursday night. “We are constitutionally prohibited from building such a space on campus at UCSD and these are people and students who are apart of the La Jolla community.”
Rabkin added that the proposed development of religious space is an appropriate and allowable use in a single-family residential zone. He said that the proposed Jewish student center complies with all regulations in the land development code.
“This is not a fraternity or sorority house or a student center. This is a place for students to explore their religious journey, to find meaning and purpose to their lives, and also to organize community service projects,” said Rabkin. “They want to give back to the community, not disrupt it.”
However, the La Jolla Community Planning board denied each request associated with development of the new facility.
“I find this use incompatible with (residential) zoning in the neighborhood,” said Jim Fitzgerald, a Community Planning trustee. “Hillel is a great organization. That has never been an issue. They do deserve a place to meet.”
However, Fitzgerald said he is concerned that if the Community Planning Association approved this request by Hillel it would set a precedent and have a cumulative effect. He said an approval on this project would welcome any other student organization with a religious affiliation to move off campus and into the residential neighborhoods, and each applicant would need to be given the same consideration.
“Once you approve a project in a residential area like this, it would be hard to deny any other institution,” said Fitzgerald.
Community Planning Association trustee Joe LaCava echoed that Hillel’s permit application was noncompliant with code use. LaCava said the project is more of an institutional use, rather than a religious use, which is allowed in this residential neighborhood.
UC San Diego Hillel has been before several other La Jolla community organizations, including the Traffic and Transportation committee, and met similar concerns.
It also has been met by opposition by neighbors and members of the Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use.
Julie M. Hamilton, an opponent of the proposed project and member of the Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use, said this proposed project does not belong in this location.
“TRLU supports Hillel. It supports the purpose of Hillel and supports the benefit of Hillel, but it does not belong on this project site,” she said.
Dozens of supporters and dozens of neighbors opposed to the project spoke at the meeting. To share your own opinion on this project, comment below.