The pin marks Chabad’s Campus of Life, south of Pomerado Road
  • The pin marks Chabad’s Campus of Life, south of Pomerado Road
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If you rent one of the 84 apartments at the Scripps Ranch Chabad’s Campus of Life, now offered on a variety of apartment rental sites, your enrollment in a class is part of the rent. But not to worry, rental reps say, attendance isn’t mandatory.

An ad on Rent.com (since updated) offered a one-bedroom apartment for $2016 a month.

An ad on Rent.com (since updated) offered a one-bedroom apartment for $2016 a month.

That’s because when the city signed off on the 280 apartments south of Pomerado Road in 2008, there were a few conditions attached, among them: the apartments were only for faculty, students, and their families. The students in the apartments had to carry a minimum of eight credits. Chabad had made a private agreement with the planning group, but the city noted it had no ability to enforce it.

By making that promise, the Chabad project was able to get about $2.5 million in development impact fees waived — along with other standard development requirements like inclusionary housing. Those fees, in theory, are used to pay for community infrastructure, including fire-department upgrades and parks.

With the first wave of apartments (84, according to the rental sites) coming to market, the Scripps Ranch Planning Group and its civic association are sounding the alarm.

“The community wants to have them rezoned and we want them to pay the impact fees that were waived,” says Bob Ilko, chairman of the planning group. “They carved out $2.5 million in savings by calling them dorms and that’s what they’re supposed to be. If they want apartments, they should do the project as apartments and stop calling them dorms.”

Messages left with three people at the Campus of Life (two rabbis and the accounting office) were not returned.

The project, approved in 2008, included the restriction that the housing was only for use by students, faculty, and their families. The city-council recommendation from the planning commission includes a requirement that only students and staff can live there.

The project didn’t need a new permit since it was following the basic structure that had been approved for the previous owner in 1972 and amended in 1995.

The campus has been built in phases: a cafeteria building; the preschool and grade school; the community center; and, finally, the apartment buildings. Pre-construction grading began in 2012.

The Scripps Ranch Planning Group was the first to propose the restriction on the project, and its members have been angered to find the rentals offered to anyone in the county. But a quick call to the apartment leasing office cleared up the confusion: by including automatic enrollment in classes that include pilates, yoga, and wellness and nutrition, anyone who can afford luxury-apartment rent can live there.

One-bedroom apartments will rent for $2016 or more, and two bedrooms go for $2385, according to the listings on Zillow, HotPads, and Apartments.com. The first wave of apartments become available on April 16, according to the listings.

“Our community was created for people who are passionate about life and our Ascent at Campus of Life offers an extraordinary array of learning and growth opportunities,” the rental ads say.

Ilko, who lives near the project, says he believes that if there is enforcement, it will have to come from the city attorney’s office.

In December, Chabad settled a complaint filed by the Regional Water Quality Control Board, which found that the development company had constructed an underground tunnel to redirect an unnamed stream that feeds into Carroll Canyon Creek. At the point where it emerges from the ground, investigators found it contained construction fill that could be carried to the creek.

Chabad’s representatives argued that they didn’t need permits for the work because the land use was grandfathered back to 1967 in permits obtained by the now-defunct United States International University, before the state Clean Water Act was passed. The argument failed because a specific section forbids such grandfathering.

Water-board staff said the underground tunnel directed water away from a building site and that it was a fairly routine kind of construction, except for the lack of a permit.

The settlement in December includes a requirement that the developer mitigate and restore ten times the one-twentieth of an acre affected by the rerouting; they will also pay $11,579 for the cost of the investigation.

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Comments

Cassander March 2, 2018 @ 11 a.m.

This is the problem when religious groups get into commercial development: even though already tax-exempt, they think they're entitled to endless exemptions because of "all the good they do."

But while they're trying to play fast and loose with the city, it's less clear that the CA Secretary of State or the Attorney General will take kindly to the fact that Campus of Life Inc. is registered for "The specific purpose...to operate a religious educational institution with dormitories" and therefore "The property of this corporation is irrevocably dedicated to religious purposes."

Regardless of whether they're willing to cheapen their faith by saying anyone who can afford the rent is a coreligionist, they need to do right by the community and render unto Caesar.

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AlexClarke March 4, 2018 @ 7:08 a.m.

All religious groups should loose their tax exempt status. They are noting more than a business whose sole purpose is to separate you from your money.

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dwbat March 4, 2018 @ 9:01 a.m.

Actually they should lose it (not "loose" it). ;-)

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