La Jolla’s Casa de los Amigos to get historic review this month

An image presented to the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee shows the 1924 La Casa de los Amigos (center).
An image presented to the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee shows the 1924 La Casa de los Amigos (center), which has failing footings and has been proposed for demolition.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Applicants who proposed to demolish the house as part of plans to build a new one now seek historic designation for the property in hopes of getting guidance on how to proceed.


La Jolla’s La Casa de los Amigos, proposed for demolition as part of plans to build a new house in its place in the Lower Hermosa neighborhood, may get a different fate.

After some contentious local reviews, the applicant team is now seeking historic designation for the property and guidance on how to proceed with its renovation.

Applicant Matthew Segal said a hearing has been scheduled for the San Diego Historical Resources Board meeting Thursday, Jan. 26, to determine whether the house known as La Casa de los Amigos (Friends House) at 6110 Camino de la Costa should be placed on the local historic register.

The hope is that such designation would clear up confusion about how the planned development of the property could proceed and what mitigation measures would need to be taken.

During the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee meeting Nov. 8, Segal said the house, which dates to 1924, has a failing foundation and footings and is unsafe.

The Local Coastal Program adopted in the 1970s, which serves as a planning document for coastal communities, requires a 40-foot distance between a structure and a bluff. Any change to the property would need to conform with the setback regulations.

Though Segal said the original intent was to preserve and remodel the house, 60 percent of it — including the living room, dining room, basement, two bedrooms and the dormer — is in the setback area and would need to be removed as part of any renovation.

Thus, he presented plans to tear down the house and build a new three-story, 10,567-square-foot residence with decks. It would be similar in size and scale to what is currently there, he said.

When the project was reviewed by the DPR Committee, some questioned whether such a project could take place at a structure they considered potentially historic. The house is not listed on any historic register, but Seonaid McArthur, chairwoman of the La Jolla Historical Society’s Landmark Committee, called La Casa de los Amigos “the first or second house built in Lower Hermosa. … It has been a landmark for years.”

She said the house qualifies for listing on the San Diego Register of Historical Resources under several criteria and would be historically designated if considered by the Historical Resources Board.

The DPR voted last month to postpone its final review of the project until the Historical Resources Board rules on whether La Casa de los Amigos is historic.

Little of La Casa de los Amigos at 6110 Camino de la Costa in La Jolla's Lower Hermosa area is visible from the street.
Little of La Casa de los Amigos at 6110 Camino de la Costa in La Jolla’s Lower Hermosa neighborhood is visible from the street, except for a decorative entryway.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

According to a report to the city, construction of La Casa de los Amigos was finished Dec. 31, 1924. Since then, the house has undergone alterations, primarily on the west facade, consisting of extension and partial enclosure of the rear balcony and construction of a finished basement between 1934 and 1939. Four original windows on the west facade were replaced after 1946.

“Despite these alterations, the building was evaluated as retaining six of the seven aspects of integrity” that would be considered in a historical review, according to the report by BFSA Environmental Services.

California Coastal Commission Coastal Program Analyst Alex Llerandi told the La Jolla Light that he could not comment on what would happen “should any or part of the residence be designated historic” because “each case is a little different.”

The applicant team previously was under the impression that the rules regarding the setback would supersede the property’s historical authenticity, but Llerandi later said that was not necessarily the case.

Segal and his father and business partner, Jonathan Segal, said they hope that if the property is historically designated, they will get clear guidance from the city and the Coastal Commission on what they would be allowed to do there.

The Historical Resources Board’s Jan. 26 meeting will begin at 4 p.m. online. To learn more, visit and click on the “Public hearings, meetings & notices” tab. ◆