Preservationists to hold ‘vigil’ for historic La Jolla home Sunday
By Pat Sherman
Members of La Jolla Historical Society’s Preservation Committee will hold a candlelight vigil to draw attention to the unexpected demolition of Irvin Gill’s Windemere cottage more than a year ago.
The event, “Remembering Windemere,” will be from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27 on the sidewalk at 1328 Virginia Way, in front of the vacant lot where the structure — one of the state’s earliest examples of craftsman style architecture — once stood.
Organizers will construct an altar to Windemere, with candles and photos. Past Windemere occupants, neighbors and those familiar with Gill’s late 1800s cottage will speak.
Organizers said the event is intended to acknowledge the “continuing loss of our cultural heritage in the silent passing of Windemere,” which occurred after the city issued an emergency demolition permit to the property’s current owner. The demolition occurred after negotiations between the owner and the historical society to relocate the structure came to an impasse.
Organizers hope the vigil will generate public awareness, so that solutions to preserve La Jolla’s remaining cultural landmarks may be developed in the future.
Preservationists contend that the owner violated provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by not mentioning his intent for “future development” at the site when seeking the initial demolition permit.
However, in a Jan. 11 memo, the city’s Environmental Services Department stated that the new home proposed for the site is “categorically exempt from CEQA, pursuant to CEQA state guidelines.”
The owner is seeking to build a two-story, 3,061-square-foot residence above a 1,856-square-foot basement with a 473-square-foor detached garage and 451-square-foot guest quarters. The city said the project, also known as the “Bernate Ticino Residence,” will not have the potential to cause significant environment impacts, and it also will not involve expansion of the property’s current use.
The city also said a records search did not indicate any historic resources within or adjacent to the site. The city’s archaeological staff found “no potential impact to any potentially significant archaeological resources,” following a field study.
Preservation Committee Chair Leslie Davis said the committee plans to appeal the city’s determination. The appeal must be filed with the city clerk’s office by Jan. 31. Other organizations, such as the Save Our Heritage Organisation may file their own appeals, she said.
During the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s (LJCPA) Jan. 3 meeting a two-pronged consent agenda item from the Development Permit Review (DPR) committee — that would have required the owner to retroactively obtain a coastal development permit for the demolition of Windemere, and also recommended denial of that permit — was pulled from the agenda by LJCPA Vice- chair Joe LaCava.
“While there was a lot of focus on the demolition of the historic structure, the (DPR) subcommittee had not reviewed the new proposal at all,” LaCava told the Light. “I did not want the La Jolla CPA to miss an opportunity to review the proposed project, in addition to whatever opinion it wants to express about the demolition of the original structure. I’m hopeful that (LJCPA President) Tony Crisafi will be successful in contacting the applicant and bring it back so we can discuss the merits of the proposed project.”
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