House of Sand and Cash

Those posh new digs for UCSD's chancellor will have to wait at least another month or so. In the face of protests from historical preservationists and Native Americans, the University of California Regents, meeting in Los Angeles last week, spurned determined efforts to rush through plans for the new $8 million mansion. The crowning blow was a letter to the regents from state senator Denise Ducheny, protesting demolition of the historic house currently on the La Jolla Farms site. Indian remains have been discovered under the property. “We have heard that a portion of the budget for the house will come from private donors and that those donors are opposed to the preservation and reuse of the existing house,” Ducheny wrote. “When preservation is not included as a serious option, it gets lost in the process and suddenly the citizens of California (and particularly La Jolla and the San Diego region) are watching the demolition of a historic and valuable property.”

Ducheny also attacked plans to include a “conference center” adjacent to the new mansion. “The home is located in a residential area, and its use should be primarily residential, with entertainment space for small or medium-sized gatherings. UC officials also appear to have cut short discussions with tribal entities and may not have completed consultations that could result in feasible project changes to satisfy both tribal and University needs.” The university has answered critics of the project’s escalating cost by saying that wealthy La Jollans’ tax-exempt contributions will cover most expenses. But the university has repeatedly delayed releasing documents, requested three months ago under the California Public Records Act, that detail the fund-raising efforts.

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