In the four years since we moved to Pine Valley (after almost thirty three years in Coronado) I have followed the seeming increase in potentially historically designated homes being sold in Coronado for demolition.
When the City Council removed the final say on demolition review from the HRC, or put another way,allowed an appeal of demolition denial by the HRC to the City Council, it became pretty clear that the realtor developer influence in City affairs has not only not
abated but has increased.
While this is not a new development, witness the State of California standard for demolition review of a potentially historic structure is any structure that is 50 years or older, Coronado "somehow" made 75 years or older the bright line for it's historic preservation process.
Of course this allows a demolition permit to be pulled "over the counter", without a review process for homes less than 75 years old, thereby enlarging the pool of homes to be demolished and replaced with oversized mini mansions which not coincidentally pay higher property taxes based on construction costs.
None the less, sometimes when you live somewhere it is hard to see the built environment changes as clearly as you would when you leave and come back occasionally to visit as I do.
From the "faux" Craftsman Billy Boxes replacing the site appropriate Spanish/Mediterranean houses on C Avenue facing Spreckels Park to the real Craftsman homes scraped to make room for 2 Billy Boxes on a formerly 7,000 sq ft lot, to homes by some of the most famous architects,such as Richard Requa and Harrison Albright, to now the Modernist master Homer Delawie house on Glorietta, greed and shortsightedness is destroying the built environment and architectural legacy of Coronado.
While Coronado is to be applauded for creating an historic preservation ordinance and concomitant Historic Resource Commission, all be it very late in the game in 2000, the pressure from the realtor developer axis has succeeded in forcing changes to the process which have only aided those who view historic preservation as an impediment to their ability to make money.
Once the process was set up, some realtors gamed the system to have historic homes designated and given Mills Act benefits ahead of others on the list by implicitly or explicitly stating that if the home was not so designated,a "new" owner might seek to have it torn down.
Of course the willingness of the City Council to allow this coupled with the city's need for ever increasing tax increment receipts to service the bond debt incurred by the CDA in its many projects to replace the schools, City Hall etc, guarantees an open field for those realtors who manipulate the system for their own profit.
Again and again we see this. It never fails to amuse me when a realtor ends up living in some oversized "Rancho Santa Fe" wanna be like structure built on the site of a demolished historic home. Long time residents will recall the demolished Richard Requa home known as the "Walbridge " house off of Isabella Avenue.
The other side effect is that a town like Coronado with high property values, a city government in need of ever increasing tax increment revenue, attracts a certain kind of developer and realtor whose loyalty is not to his community but to his/her own wallet; who by virtue of a particular amoral willingness to tear down, build or sell anything makes him/her a perfect ally for a city government interested in boosting property tax revenue through new construction.
A developer, builder or realtor who is not invested in the historicity of the town he or she has comes to pluck like a fat goose cannot be reasoned with on the basis of historic preservation, neither can their political allies on a City Council.
What is needed is influential longtime citizens who care about where they live to stand up to these folks who often come from out of town attracted by the compliant regulatory process and their flack masters on the City Council and the allure of a "Coronado" that now exists only in memory due to these very same rapacious profiteers.
As I once predicted with the overturning at the trial level of Proposition J, areas of town that were gratuitously designated R1B in 1973 would some day be wall to wall Billy Boxes with residents staring at their neighbor's backsides telling themselves that it was worth 1.3 million dollars for a glorified railroad car,
I fear that the day will come when Coronado has torn down all but a few historic homes left for a tour of "how Coronado once was"..led by smirking realtors.
Story R. Vogel