Point Lomans Mobilize to Save Historic House

by on June 19, 2019 · 12 comments

in Ocean Beach

Some residents in the La Playa area in Point Loma are scrambling in an effort to save an historic house from being demolished and turned into a new development.

The two-story old home at 310 San Fernando Street is a 1912 Prairie-style residence that local residents and the group Save Our Heritage Organization believe should be made “historic” to avoid the wrecking crew.

Apparently an elderly couple who owned the residence passed away and the property was bought by Thomas Gaeto of BG Consolidated, LLC in Escondido. Gaeto plans to demolish it and its smaller buildings and redevelop the large lot for three new small mansions.

The Peninsula Beacon picked up the story recently and reported:

According to Steven Untiedt, an attorney living in La Playa near 310 San Fernando St., the 94-year-old couple who had resided there have died and the property was sold.

“The developer who bought it from their trust has already demolished the carriage house, and would like to demolish this historic Prairie-style house, built around 1900 to 1912, and build three new houses on the property,” said Untiedt. “He has applied to the City to have this property declared not to be historic.”

If the new owner can have the property and building declared non-historic, then he can proceed with the demolition of the nearly 120 year old house. The Beacon reports:

A Historical Resources Research Report was recently submitted to the City’s Historical Resources Board for the property. But it has not yet been reviewed by staff for completeness, or had a determination made on it, the City said.

Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) believes otherwise. It recommends the property be historically designated. Bruce Coons of SOHO stated in a letter to the City:

“After reviewing the historical report submitted as well as a comprehensive site visit in 2018, Save Our Heritage Organization asserts this residence is highly intact and (historically) significant as an example of the (architectural) style and retains all components of integrity.

HRB guidelines state that a resource must embody the distinctive characteristics of a style, type, period or method of construction… 310 San Fernando St. embodies the Prairie-style of architecture and its 20th-century construction techniques. SOHO asserts the residence is significant and merits historical designation.”

Residents say the new owner has already demolished the old carriage house, believed to be the building in the foreground.

Coons – who lives in Point Loma – also ticked off a number of the home’s attributes, its “character-defining features”:

  • Its two-story form,
  • a low-pitch hip-roof and deep overhanging eaves,
  • partial-width front-entry porch, asymmetrical entry
  • and wood sash windows.

Added Amie Hayes, the SOHO historic resources specialist, as quoted in the Beacon:

“Three hundred and ten San Fernando St. is one of the earlier houses within La Playa that can be seen from historic images. Save Our Heritage Organization believes that, due to the high integrity, this is likely to be reviewed by the Historical Resources Board and, hopefully, will be designated historic.”

The Beacon also quoted Klonie Kunzel, president of La Playa Trail Association, who said:

“I am very much in favor of having the 1912 Prairie-style home designated historical. This is one of the nicest neighborhoods in America and this is a nice, quiet, secluded, beautiful place. It makes no sense (to tear it down), especially when you don’t know what the developers are going to build. It would destroy the historic character of the neighborhood.”

Another La Playa resident, Charles Lewis Best, was quoted about his concerns.

“Many of the neighbors are very adamant about the house not being taken down to build three new homes. There are quite a few homes within two or blocks that are historically designated.”

The Beacon reported:

There are five registered historical landmarks within a three-block radius of 310 San Fernando: The Ella Strong Dennison House on San Grogonio and the Thomas Hamilton, Fanning, Judge Cary and Frank Hope homes (all on San Fernando).

We’ll continue to keep an eye on this effort. If anyone has an update or more info, please submit it as a comment or get in touch with me at obragblog@gmail.com .

 

 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar ZZ June 19, 2019 at 2:03 pm

Looks like a dumpy run-of-the-mill house to me.

Do the neighbors really care about the supposed “historic value” of the house, or keeping a 0.7 acre lot zoned for multiple houses to just one house?

OB Rag policy: NEVER question the motives of anti-development millionaire boomers.

“three new small mansions”

What’s a small mansion? Is that like a tall dwarf? Or is someone just grasping for a derogatory way to describe a house whose size is right in line with neighboring houses?

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie June 19, 2019 at 10:50 pm

zz – apparently you’re content to watch idly by as every 80 to 100 year old building in the area is razed to the ground for mere money-making. Oh, sorry, you think it’s just a “dumpy run-of-mill house”. SOHO is full of “anti-development millionaire boomers”, I forgot. And you show sympathy to the millionaire developer? Drive around zz that area and you’ll find plenty of “small mansions”.

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Avatar Rufus June 20, 2019 at 8:21 am

ZZ prays to the God of Stucco, Cement, and Glass.

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Avatar Vern June 20, 2019 at 12:51 pm

And apparently to the God of the petro-chemical supply chain (ie, dockless rental e-scooters!)

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Avatar Zz June 20, 2019 at 4:22 pm

I think you’ll see more people rising scooters on a Sunday than in church around here!

Good article about how increasing housing density is dramatically better for the environment:

https://www.sightline.org/2019/06/07/a-duplex-a-triplex-and-a-fourplex-can-cut-a-blocks-carbon-impact-20/

.7 acres? Here’s a compromise: keep that ugly old “historic” house, but fill up the rest of the lot with 10 affordable units. I think that’s a great solution. Somehow I doubt the neighbors will agree, suddenly they’d see the wisdom of the “small mansions” proposal.

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Avatar ZZ June 20, 2019 at 10:37 am

I think it should be legal to build three houses on a lot zoned for three houses. I googled the first guy quoted in the article:

“Steven J. Untiedt counsels clients on corporate and securities, emerging growth and technology, and strategic joint ventures. Steve’s practice focuses on variety of business transactions including mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity financings, and corporate and commercial law matters.”

So probably “millionaire” is an understatement.

Of course the developer is motivated by money. It is you that are in denial that the opposition to the development isn’t also motivated by money. It is worth more to have a house next to a .7 acre lot with 1 house than with 3 houses. But you are buying into that they care about a completely unremarkable and dumpy house. It is hilarious to see how much they had to stretch to make it “significant,” cooing over its “wood sash windows” and “two-story form” and “asymmetrical entry.” That’s some real patrimony we’ll be losing when the city approves the demo!

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Avatar retired botanist June 20, 2019 at 3:45 pm

Oy ZZ! If we don’t start looking at a situation from something OTHER than money, as the only coin in the game, its 1 step forward, 2 backward. I mean, Steve’s profile says it all, right? Mergers, acquisitions, debt acquisition, commercial law…..really? Is this who one wants to endorse for preservation of the neighborhood, the character, and so on?! And wait! He’s already demolished the carriage house?!
Of course its probably legal to build 3 houses on a lot zoned for 3. And you attribute all that pushback as being from neighbors who think their property value will diminish next to 3 houses, vs. 1 house next door….surely you see more than that in a community? in a neighborhood? in a district?
And let’s, last, troll out the usual response, “Of course they can. But should they?” That’s what’s so obviously missing in “Stevie’s” profile….

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Avatar Debbie June 19, 2019 at 4:25 pm

Zillow says : 310 San Fernando St, San Diego, CA is a single family home that contains 2,900 sq ft and was built in 1916. It contains 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. This home last sold for $1,800,000 in November 2018.

If people love historic houses why don’t they buy them and preserve or renovate them? Once they are sold they are in the hands and desire of the buyer

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Avatar ZZ June 19, 2019 at 5:43 pm

Debbie, seems like either the photo caption or San Diego property records are wrong since the house is in a “1913” photo.

Given that house was huge by that era’s standards, I’d guess the property record (zillow uses county data) is correct and the photo is from after 1916. No parked cars or horses pictured.

When did cars start outnumbering horses? Maybe 1920?

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Avatar Vern June 20, 2019 at 12:49 pm

There were more horses than cars in 1925 (22million to 20 million) but more cars than horses in 1930 (26.3 million to 18 million). So your answer would be somewhere between 1925 and 1930.

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Avatar Minos June 21, 2019 at 9:21 am

Save it. Restore it. Demolishing old homes is a travesty. New developments are garbage. They typically look like crap although new and shiny to some, an eye sore to others. Although the house may look ordinary it’s not.

The mindset of ZZ is the mindset that has ruined SD. I believe people selling homes sell them not really knowing what the new owner will do unless it is disclosed. Unless the seller is willing to wait for someone who will come in a restore it which is a slim chance.

People are money hungry! Developers will destroy the landscape of SD without a care and runoff with the money somewhere else.

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Avatar Cholly June 24, 2019 at 6:55 am

Good article. Keep it up.

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