regents approve budget, scope and financing of UCSD’s Theatre
District Living and Learning Neighborhood
Elisabeth Frausto, November 19, 2020
of California regents voted Nov. 18 to approve the budget,
scope and external financing of UC San Diegos planned
Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood as the La
Jolla Shores Association and Blackhorse Farms homeowners association
look to the next steps in their joint lawsuit challenging
project, planned for La Jolla Village Drive at North Torrey
Pines Road, calls for five buildings ranging from nine to
21 stories tall with housing for 2,000 students, along with
a conference center, hotel rooms, classrooms, retail and a
1,200-space parking garage underneath.
lawsuit was filed last month in San Diego County Superior
Court by Escondido firm DeLano and DeLano on behalf of LJSA
and the HOA of Blackhorse Farms, a gated residential community
on the western edge of UCSD near the proposed site of TDLLN.
The action is the latest step in the organizations fight
against the development.
plaintiffs contend the project violates the California Environmental
Quality Act, citing potential impacts on traffic, animal species,
pollution and wastewater, and have voiced concerns about the
projects scope and perceived lack of community input.
a closed session Nov. 18, the Board of Regents Finance
and Capital Strategies Committee discussed the lawsuit but
took no action, according to the regents secretary and
chief of staff, Anne Shaw.
its open session immediately following, the committee took
up the TDLLN budget, scope and external financing pursuant
to the California Environmental Quality Act.
the discussion, committee Chairman Hadi Makarechian addressed
actions taken at the regents meeting in September, when
the committee delayed approval of TDLLNs budget pending
financial clarifications and an action that was recorded
approval of the projects design did not match
what was said during the meeting.
would like to clarify for everyone, at the September meeting
the regents had questions regarding the projects
financial feasibility as well as project costs, Makarechian
said. Due to these questions, the regents amended the
action to 1) authorize an additional $5 million to fund partial
project work and 2) approve the project design and 3) adopt
findings for the project having considered the addendum No.
5 to the 2018 [Long Range Development Plan environmental impact
report] pursuant to CEQA.
said the action was amended, was approved and the regents
requested the campus to revisit and reduce the project budget
before returning to a future regents meeting to request full
budget and financing approval.
updated information that UCSD presented to the regents reflected
a reduction in the overall budget to $565 million from $645
million, with Chancellor Pradeep Khosla saying the university
took the feedback from the regents very seriously.
was able to reduce the projects budget by more than
12 percent by cutting construction costs, financing
costs and making additional adjustments to reflect post-pandemic
reality, Khosla said. He indicated that a larger classroom
originally included in the plans has been replaced by smaller
classrooms, with fewer students projected on campus
demand for housing, however, continues to be very high
and very significant, Khosla said, adding that the 2018
campus strategy [is] to house 65 percent of our students in
goal, Khosla said, is to offer a four-year housing guarantee
at 20 percent below market rate. He said UCSD was the
first campus to come up with this notion of 20 percent below
market. If you look at our housing right now, its more
like 31 percent below market, which he said is the
lowest by far of all UC campuses.
have a very strong commitment to reducing the housing costs
and keeping them low, Khosla said.
pre-COVID shortage of 10,000 beds has been compounded now
with a permanent loss of 2,000 more beds because we got rid
of all triple[-occupancy rooms], leading to the universitys
inability to offer even a two-year housing guarantee,
think [that] is terrible for an institution of our size and
caliber, he said.
then, is critical for us to have these beds ready by
2023, he said. This would add 2,000 beds, barely
compensating for the 2,000 beds we lost.
also mentioned that TDLLNs great design
recently received an award for urban design from the San Diego
chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
hoping that we can get this approved and be on our way to
construct great housing, great living conditions and a great
educational experience for our undergrads, he said.
congratulated Khosla on bringing the cost down by $80 million.
Thats a substantial savings, Makarechian
Richard Leib said I think this is a great project
and commended Makarechian for doing a lot of work with
the university in scaling down and to really test a lot of
the financial questions.
also commended UCSD and Khosla for listening to those
responses and really coming up with a fantastic project. Im
very excited about it.
committee voted unanimously to approve the budget, scope and
external financing without further discussion. Nearly all
the cost will be covered through the external (debt) financing,
with $1 million coming from housing auxiliary reserves.
in public comments during the regents meeting, which was held
online and livestreamed, the board heard from two UCSD community
members, both of whom spoke in support of TDLLN.
Nielsen, a local resident and member of the UCSD Chancellors
Community Advisory Board, urged the regents to support TDLLN,
saying the single largest impact by students at UC San
Diego on the local community is housing. The addition of 2,000
beds by the [TDLLN] project will make a measurable difference.
student Abby Reuter said a college degree is incredibly
important for success in the world today, and with the increasing
cost of education, public schools like the UCs are more important
than ever. Stable housing is a critical factor in student
success and well-being while pursuing that degree. On-campus
housing will also allow more students to be part of the on-campus
community and to experience independence and excitement of
the college experience. [TDLLN] addresses both of these issues,
and I urge the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee to
support this project.
watching the meeting, La Jolla Shores Association President
Janie Emerson told the La Jolla Light that the vote
was pretty much a foregone conclusion.
concern is all the money that the University of California
handles and the way they make decisions. At no point did they
fully vet this project, and they are the committee that is
supposed to get down and dirty, she said.
said she feels the regents arent doing enough to be
creative with what you have in front of you, such
as repurposing empty buildings instead of moving forward with
are just plowing ahead on the path that they
have already set out, she said, which to me is
fiscally irresponsible. In this age, they need to be more
creative about solving the housing issue. Their responsibility
is to keep the university solvent.
said a settlement discussion involving all parties in the
lawsuit is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 25. It is a mandated
step per CEQA regulations.
settlement discussion in CEQA is simply the parties involved
with their attorneys to discuss if theres any way they
can resolve the differences she said. Its
much more informal than in regular litigation.