La Jolla Historical Society appeals city’s decision on Windemere site

This photo of Windemere cottage was taken by former owner Deborah Pattee, who says the structure was ‘perfectly habitable’ prior to a fairly recent change in ownership and subsequent demolition. Courtesy Photos

Notice of Correction: The original version of this story states that the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) ratified the La Jolla Historical Society’s appeal of the city’s environmental determination on the Windemere site. In fact, the LJCPA was ratifying its own appeal, which it filed the same day as the historical society’s appeal was filed.

By Pat Sherman

The saga of Irving Gill’s demolished Windemere cottage — and the property owner’s desire to build on the land where it once stood — reached new heights last month.

On Feb. 4 the La Jolla Historical Society (LJHS) filed an appeal of the city’s environmental determination on the site. The La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) filed a similar appeal, which it ratified during its Feb. 7 meeting. Windemere was demolished in December 2011, after the new property owner claimed it was no longer structurally sound.

The determination being appealed, issued by the city’s Environmental Services Department in January, opines that the project is “categorically exempt” from the mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), because the demolition and proposed replacement structure would not cause a significant impact on the environ- ment and meets CEQA criteria for new construction. The city also found no record of historic resources within or adjacent to the site, and no potential to disturb archaeological resources.

Tim Golba, the architect hired to design a replacement residence at the Windemere site (1328 Virginia Way), said property owner Frank Bottini postponed his presentation on the project to the LJCPA last month following the historical society’s appeal.

“Our client felt it was premature to present the actual building project to the (LJCPA) trustees given that the environmental appeal could potentially result in changes to the building and require another return trip to present any building modifications done as a result of the environmental appeal,” Golba stated, via e-mail. Golba said Bottini would likely return to present the project to the LJCPA at the conclusion of the appeal process.

Bottini is seeking to fast-track his home construction via the city’s Sustainable Building Expedite Program, which reduces the time it takes city staff to review development permit requests by as much as 75 percent, in exchange for incorporating environmentally sustainable materials and energy-saving devices.

The Development Permit Review committee denied its approval of the proposed 4,198-square-foot, two-story replacement structure (known as the “Bernate Ticino Residence”) in January, on grounds that a Coastal Development Permit required per city municipal code was not obtained prior to Windemere’s demolition.

Preservationists claim Windemere’s windows and wood eaves were purposefully removed to destabilize the single-wall construction home, clearing the way for the city to approve its demolition.

Bottini contends that the La Jolla Historical Society had not filed an application with the State Office of Historic Preservation (SHPO) to deem Windemere historic prior to its demolition, and that a state hearing on the 1894 Craftsman- style home’s potential historicity had not been scheduled.

However, LJHS Preservation Committee Chair Leslie Davis contends Bottini was notified that the state was assessing Windemere for a historic designation, and that Bottini broke off negotiations to relocate the structure to Historical Society property at that point. Davis said both the city’s Historical Resources Board (HRB) and City Clerk received a letter regarding the pending state historic designation via certified mail. La Jolla attorney and CEQA expert Julie Hamilton, who filed the Feb. 4 appeal on behalf of the LJHS, argues that the city’s initial environmental determination allowing the demolition should not have been issued without notice of the proposed replacement home, per the terms of CEQA (which precludes “project segmentation”).

Hamilton said the owner’s removal of windows and wood eaves destabilized Windemere, clearing a path for the city to approve demolition of the old-growth redwood structure.

“The historical society’s position is that this was a significant historical impact,” Hamilton said. “They need to come up with a feasible alternative or mitigation measures that would reduce that impact below the level of significance. … In an ideal world they would find old-growth redwood and reconstruct the cottage. Is that unrealistic? That remains to be seen.”

The San Diego City Council is scheduled to consider the LJHS’s appeal during its April 8 meeting.

Meanwhile, the La Jolla Association, a group advocating for the rights of private property owners that is critical of the LJCPA’s autonomy in advising the city on planning issues, is claiming that the LJCPA’s ratification of its environmental appeal violates City Council policy 600-24 ( Vrv9MM), as well as the LJCPA’s corporate bylaws, approved and accepted by the city in March 2009.

Related posts:

  1. La Jollans attend vigil for Irving Gill’s ‘Windemere’
  2. La Jolla’s beach cottages: An issue of integrity
  3. Preservationists to hold ‘vigil’ for historic La Jolla home Sunday
  4. ‘Windemere’ site redevelopment moving too fast for La Jolla preservationists
  5. Irving Gill-designed home in La Jolla torn down

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Mar 5, 2013. Filed under La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Comments for “La Jolla Historical Society appeals city’s decision on Windemere site”

  1. The recent article in the La Jolla Light “La Jolla Historical Society appeals city’s decision on Windemere site” is factually wrong on the following important facts;
    (1) On Feb. 4 the La Jolla Historical Society (LJHS) and the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) each filed appeals against the city’s environmental determination on the Windermere cottage. Astonishingly, the appeal filed by the LJCPA’s Chairman, Mr. Tony Crisafi, was “word for word identical” to the appeal filed by the attorney for the LJHS…..? Mr. Crisaif filed the LJCPA unauthorized appeal three days prior to conducting a public noticed meeting, public discussion or public vote by the LJCPA Trustees, once again in deliberate violation of the Brown Act, City Council Policy 600-24 and their own City approved March 2009 bylaws. In fact, at their February 7th meeting, when attempting to retroactively approve the already filed appeal, the Chair of the LJCPA did not disclose any outside meetings, conferences or consultation regarding the clearly “ghost written” appeal that was filed, nor did any Trustee of the LJCPA even bother to ask why the Environmental Decision was being appealed, or the grounds to agree to such an appeal.

    (2) The LJCPA ratified their Chairman’s illegal February 4th appeal at their February 7th publicly noticed meeting; they did not ratify the La Jolla Historical Society’s appeal.

    (3) The La Jolla Association (LJA) is a grassroots community group advocating for creditable representation in our community. LJA is not critical of the LJCPA’s autonomy in advising the city on planning issues, as stated in your paper. Our group is only critical of the LJCPA leadership that uses our community group to promote their own self-interest. If they do not get their way they hide behind obscurely named community groups such as; Save La Jolla, La Jolla Shores Tomorrow, No Third Story, Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use, etc… while being directed by the same attorney, the one that wrote the above mentioned appeals. LJA supports the effort of the majority of the LJCPA Trustees who are well meaning community volunteers that donate many hours for the betterment of our community.

    (4) The fact is the La Jolla Association has not taken a position on this project we only want both applicants and the leadership of the LJCPA Trustees to abide by the rules established by our community, the City, State and Federal Government.

    • Pat Sherman

      1) You are correct that the LJCPA also filed an appeal of the city’s environmental determination, which I was not aware of at the time of the LJCPA meeting. If it was stated at the meeting that the LJCPA was ratifying its own appeal, I missed that point. The LJCPA’s appeal was similar, but not fully in concurrence with the LJHS’s appeal.

      (3) I apologize if I misrepresented the La Jolla Association’s mission or goals. I attempted to encapsulate your purpose from the description posted on your Facebook page, which reads as follows:

      “In the city of La Jolla there are approximately forty thousand (40,000) residents. Only eighteen (18) individuals (LJCPA Trustees) are recognized by the San Diego City Council to make 100% of the recommendations on land use matters to the City of San Diego for the La Jolla community. Astonishingly 99.99% of the residents of the city of La Jolla did not cast one vote to elect any of these 18 individuals. In a world where Facebook and Twitter are being used to change the governments of countries around the world, the La Jolla Association will (with your support) change the community planning process in the La Jolla community and perhaps the City of San Diego. No longer will only the voice of these same select few individuals make 100% of the recommendations on land use matters for the La Jolla community to the San Diego City Council and the City of San Diego, we all will! No longer when members of the LJCPA misrepresent or falsify a applicant’s contrasting vision for the future of the La Jolla community will it go uncontested by the residents of La Jolla. The La Jolla Association will ensure all our voices will determine the future of the City of La Jolla, not just a selected few. Register Today…. Change Tomorrow!”

      (4) My story does not state that the La Jolla Association has taken a position on either the demolition of Windemere or the proposed Bernate Ticino residence.

      —Pat Sherman

      • Ronald V. May

        Speaking as a resident of La Jolla, I would like the identity of each of the members of “The La Jolla Association.” If they are a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization or some other corporation, I would like to see the names of their officers. This seems like a simple request, as I want to know if these people live in La Jolla?

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