On November 9, Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor ruled in favor of Hillel of San Diego (http://hillelsd.org/hillel-wins-lawsuit-over-glickman-center/) and the City of San Diego, upholding the right to begin construction of the Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center. The Jewish student center will be built on a triangular lot just across from UCSD.
After years of legal battles, the San Diego City Council voted unanimous approval of the project in 2017. Opposition to the Hillel Center has raged since 2006, led by a group called Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use (http://trlu.org/). TRLU is a self-described "non-profit 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the special community of La Jolla."
Responding to TRLU’s argument that the Glickman Hillel Center should be relocated elsewhere, Judge Taylor stated in court, “We don’t do that in the United States … That is evocative of Eastern Europe and not appropriate.”
Joel Smith, president of the board of directors of Hillel of San Diego, said in a statement: "This was a baseless lawsuit, and we are heartened that Judge Taylor confirmed Hillel’s lawful right to build."
Smith elaborated: "We are especially delighted that our project will serve as a welcoming beacon of inclusivity at the entrance to La Jolla, a neighborhood that once forbade Jewish ownership. We will not be bullied any longer; the time to build is now.”
A 2002 Reader article detailed Hillel of San Diego's attempt to build a new facility adjacent to UCSD. In 2011, the Reader revisited the issue. Almost five years later, the project still has not advanced to the San Diego Planning Commission; after it does (if it does?), the San Diego City Council will have the final say.
Originally called the Hillel Center for Jewish Life, it's since been named the Beverly & Joseph Glickman Hillel Center; this was done after the April 10 announcement of a $5 million gift from Joseph “Chickie” Glickman toward the center's cost.
The site is a 3/4-acre (33,000 square feet) triangle of land near the intersection of La Jolla Village Drive and Torrey Pines Road. It's just across the street from UCSD's Revelle College. While there have been complaints about increased traffic and noise, students could walk or bike to the new center.
A traffic analysis conducted by Hillel showed that “the project would result in no significant traffic impacts and mitigation is not required.” Hillel also states on its website: “The activities at the Hillel facility will not cause significant noise impacts to the surrounding neighborhood.”
The main opposition to the new facility is from a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization called Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use (TRLU). One of their arguments was that “this project will set a precedent for allowing University uses to encroach into the residential neighborhoods.” The group also complained that “the proposed student center is six feet higher than any other structure in the adjacent residential community.”
Julie M. Hamilton is the current attorney representing Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use. She said, “TRLU still opposes the Hillel UCSD Center for Jewish Life for the same reasons; a student center is inappropriate for this location.... I am not clear why it has taken so long for the applicant to respond to comments on the Draft [environmental impact report]. I suspect the applicant is dragging it out until [District 1 councilmember/council president] Sherri Lightner leaves office.”
Before becoming a councilmember, Lightner was chair of the La Jolla Shores Association. A June 15, 2005, article in the San Diego Union-Tribune stated: “Her group and four other community boards recently signed a letter to the council opposing the development.”
The City of San Diego was previously sued over the issue by Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use. In a March 1, 2007, brief filed by the respondents, “Petitioners claim the City-approved traffic and parking study performed by Kimley-Hom & Associates, Inc, (a 'certified transportation planner') was inadequate. But petitioners' only support for this argument are comments by Helen Boyden and Sherri Lightner.”
I asked councilmember Lightner's director of communications, Jennifer Kearns, if Lightner is still opposed to the Hillel facility, though it's been totally redesigned and considerably downsized. Kearns replied: “Since it's a land use item (quasi-judicial), the Council President is actually prohibited from providing comments/opinions prior to the hearing.”
Michael Rabkin, executive director at Hillel of San Diego, said, “We are working closely with the City to finalize the EIR. Once that is complete, we will able to schedule a hearing at a Planning Commission [session], which is the next step before a hearing at City Council."
The Hillel UCSD website, describes the facility as “three structures covering 6,479-square-feet of space on the property. The center will include a chapel, a library, a student center, a small park that is open to the public, with parking spaces for cars (27) and bicycle storage.”
Solar power will provide 30 to 50 percent of its energy consumption and water conservation measures (LEED Silver) are incorporated into the design. The architectural firm for the project is M.W. Steele Group of San Diego; they also designed the Melvin Garb Hillel Center at SDSU.
(revised 6/19, 1:55 p.m.)