Our Readers Write: Historical rehabilitation, UCSD project, ‘tiny houses,’ COVID-19

This house at 1419 Virginia Way is inspiring debate over its La Jolla Historical Society award for historic rehabilitation.
This house at 1419 Virginia Way continues to inspire debate over its La Jolla Historical Society award for historic rehabilitation.

Letters to the editor:

If a building is rehabilitated so it doesn’t resemble the original, how is it ‘historical’?

My response to Heath Fox, executive director of the La Jolla Historical Society (“Historic designation well-deserved,” La Jolla Light, July 23), is that “historical rehabilitation” would indicate to me, just by the wording alone, to mean try to restore something to as close to the original as possible while still making it into a habitable dwelling.

In the case of 1419 Virginia Way, the exterior “look” is entirely changed by the dark roof and dark green paint covering the lighter color scheme of the original house, and the total footprint has been changed in the back. If changing everything is done and it doesn’t resemble the original, then why have the word “historical” in the context?

For the record:

9:36 a.m. Aug. 5, 2020This article originally misspelled Staunton in Webber, Staunton & Spaulding.

As I said in my previous letter to the La Jolla Light (“House’s restoration is not historical preservation,” July 16), the original paint color could be researched just as the Fern Glen house was well-researched. That way, my narrative would not be the only proof. Facts would stand on their own. The interior could have been modernized to fit the needs of a 21st-century family, still leaving the exterior with its historic beauty. That would fit at least a passing resemblance to what the words “historical rehabilitation” describe.

Also, I have no reason to doubt the narrative that Richard Harvey told me regarding Edgar Ullrich being the architect. Mr. Harvey was a well-known painting contractor in early La Jolla and was well-respected by everyone. I wonder if Heath Fox has considered the possibility that Webber, Staunton & Spaulding, a firm based in Los Angeles, might have contracted the job out to a known La Jolla architect?

I would like to think that the La Jolla Historical Society stands by its reputation of preserving the history of La Jolla as accurately as possible. There must be some musty old records somewhere locally that would shed some light on this.

To reply to Laura DuCharme (“Historic designation concerns rehabilitation, not restoration,” La Jolla Light, July 23), I agree that a wood/shake shingle roof is not a good choice for today. It’s unsafe. That is why, when we lived in the house, we had the roof replaced with shingles that were fireproof and up to code. It was hard to find a roofing company that could copy the old offset pattern of the original shingles and have a skilled roofer on the staff who could do the job. The color was a few shades lighter than the original cedar shingles, but the offset pattern still preserved the artistic beauty as close to the original as possible and made the house safer.

When we moved in, the neighbors told us that the house had been rarely used and sat empty most of the time and used only for the racing season, so the interior was in good shape when we moved in. And we kept the old-fashioned interior as it was, somewhat outdated, but charming.

We enjoyed living there, but I can understand why a modern family of today would want the interior updated to fit today’s needs. And I understand that Laura DuCharme did a good job of updating it. As an architect and an artistic, creative person, I’m sure that she is proud and satisfied with her work. That is why I hope she will understand why I am trying to defend and protect Edgar Ullrich’s creative work that he left behind for others to appreciate and enjoy. I’m sure that Laura DuCharme would want someone to do the same for her and make sure that she got historical credit for some of her well-done jobs after she has passed on.

Alice DeBolt

— — —

New name, but same monster project

The UC San Diego Future College Living and Learning Neighborhood project (FCLLN) has changed its name to Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood, or TDLLN (“UCSD changes expansion project name and some details,” La Jolla Light, July 16). Same project, same monster buildings of nine to 21 stories and 900,000 gross square feet. Same danger to our traffic, environment, health and safety.

The UC Board of Regents has not approved this project. UCSD has not answered in full the Public Records Act requests filed months ago by both the La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) and Blackhorse Farms. The environmental document on TDLLN project has yet to be produced and so is not out for public comment. The next UC regents board meeting is mid-September. What is going on here?

This project has now expanded way beyond 2,000 beds — which I doubt will be needed in this COVID-19 world. Now the project includes a 480-seat theater, meeting rooms, multiple restaurants, retail space, a major transportation hub, etc., etc., etc. Read traffic, traffic, traffic, noise, pollution!

This is outrageous! In the face of vocal public opposition on this project, UCSD appears to be moving ahead. It is time to tell UCSD, “Stop!” In the city of Berkeley, Save Berkeley Neighborhoods is suing UC Berkeley for its unbridled continued expansion that is destroying their community.

Now is the time to stand up for our community.

Stop this now! Your letters and comments on this project do make a difference. Write to the new UC president, Michael V. Drake, at To do more to fight this monster project, contact LJSA at

Janie Emerson
President, La Jolla Shores Association

— — —

How do ‘tiny houses’ get water?

The “tiny house” article by David Garrick was read with interest (“San Diego approves region’s first ‘tiny houses’ law in effort to solve housing crisis,’”) La Jolla Light, July 30), but it left out how those wheeled huts have access to water for sanitation, for bathing, for cooking and for personal cleanliness.

I can’t believe the inhabitants would be using the main house facilities for these daily needs!

Lou Cumming

Editor’s note: According to, there are several options for getting water into (and out of) a tiny house:

• Carry water in and store it inside or out.

• Put in a tank and use a pump to circulate and pressurize the water.

• Hook up to a regular water supply, installing plumbing so the tiny house can accept water through an RV hose.

• Use both a conventional hookup and a tank and pump.

• Remove wastewater by hooking up to a septic system or the public sewer system, or collect it and dispose of it at a dump station.

— — —

Group gatherings aren’t helping COVID-19 fight

This is what I saw walking on the beach: three groups of young people gathering for training, huffing and puffing alongside one another.

And we are surprised that the COVID numbers are not going down? How is this even happening/acceptable?

Three groups of 15 to 20 — each going home to parents, grandparents and friends. Who is in charge? Who is not doing the math?

I’m very concerned.

Pia Stern

— — —

What’s on YOUR mind?

Letters published in the La Jolla Light express views from readers about community matters. Submissions of related photos also are welcome. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher. Letters are subject to editing for brevity, clarity and accuracy. To share your thoughts in this public forum, email them with your name and city or neighborhood of residence to ◆