Perpetual Limbo: Partially remodeled Soledad home sits unfinished for a nearly decade
By Pat ShermanA five-bedroom Mt. Soledad home that has remained in partial stages of a remodel for nearly a decade has raised the ire of neighbors in the hillside subdivision of La Jolla Corona Estates (Unit No. 2) — the structure’s blue tarps and exposed frame an ongoing mystery visible to passersby from La Jolla Boulevard below.
Michael Flood is administer of the subdivision’s architectural committee, formed in 1957 to establish a “Declaration of Restrictions,” similar to the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) placed on a group of homes by a builder, developer or neighborhood association (in this case, particularly to protect coastal views).
Flood said neighbors refer to the unfinished home at 5954 La Jolla Corona Drive as “the eyesore property.”
Although several residents have asked that his committee urge the city to take action, the architectural committee has no enforcement authority and only reviews applications for approval of projects, he said.
“The issue is not what they’re building. It’s that they’re taking forever to do it, which the architectural committee doesn’t have any say in — even though we hate it,” Flood said, noting that he could find no record that the property owner submitted plans to his committee for approval of the work when the project began in 2006.
“If another property owner believes the restrictions are being violated,
theymust bring legal action,” Flood said.
Two other neighbors who spoke with
La Jolla Light,but asked that their names not be used, said they have reached out to the city for years to take action against the woman who owns the unfinished, 5,600-square-foot home and still lives there (the woman did not respond to the
Light’s request for comment by press time, conveying to a worker on site that she was not feeling well).
Neighbors say the city has renewed her development permits, allowing periodic work to continue at a snail’s pace, creating ongoing noise from the irregular sound of nail guns and hammers.
“Whenever she was going to do something she’d plant trees — and nothing for the house,” said one neighbor, who is among several homeowners on the street attempting to sell their property, and fear the unfinished home could reduce property values.
“I’ve talked to her before and she says, ‘Well, I don’t have the money to finish’ — and that was like three years ago,” the woman said. “I don’t understand how the city can let this go on for 10 years.”
Following neighbors’ frequent calls to the office of District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lightner and other city departments, it appears that the city is finally ready to take action.
Lynda Pfeifer, a supervising public information officer with the city’s code enforcement department, said that on May 20 code enforcement opened a case on the project. Pfeifer said there had been no city inspections of the property since the last development permit was issued in December 2012 (which has since expired), adding that code enforcement was expected to return to the property this week and issue a violation notice in accordance with San Diego Municipal Code Section 129.0219(e).
“The assigned inspector will monitor for compliance with deadlines set forth in the notice,” Pfeifer explained, via e-mail. “Compliance will require either completion of the project within 90 days of the date of the notice or demolition within 180 days of the notice.”
Failure to comply with the notice and time frames will result in the case being referred to the city attorney’s office for further enforcement action, including “the use of judicial remedies to move the property to productive use,” Pfeifer said.
During a visit to the property this week, several workers could be seen behind a locked gate at the property entrance, one of which told the
Lightthe home should be finished within two months. Lee Edging, a supervising field inspector with the City of San Diego, said the house is structurally sound and farther along than it may appear from the front. He said the home could be finished in the given time frame if work proceeds at a steady pace.