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HISTORY OF SOHO - THE FIRST TWENTY YEARS

Twenty Years of Preservation Efforts in San Diego - 1986
By Kathleen Flanigan

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
President Kathleen Kelley-Markham
Vice President Joy Higginbotham
Secretary Ann MacCullough
Treasurer Kathryn Lyon
Kristen Aliotti
Marlene Buckley (Alternate)
Dorothy Collins
Anne Cox
Wayne Donaldson
Stephen Doyle
Larry Ford
Sue Skala (Alternate)
Karna Webster
Robin Webster

In the spring, another series of bungalow preservation workshops were held in various locations within the city. Local experts shared their skills with participants. Also, Anna McPherson was selected as the new Development Director during this time.

SOHO and architect member, Tony Ciani, became embroiled in the struggle to preserve the Green Dragon Colony in La Jolla. The Colony, once famous for its colorful, artistic inhabitants, and eyed for redevelopment since the early 1970's, had witnessed hours of battle before the San Diego Historical Site Board and City Council. There had been debate over the number of buildings considered historic as well as whether or not just the site itself was important. The developers hoped to erect a 40-room hotel on the property and claimed the dilapidated old structures had no historical significance. Ciani, supported by SOHO, presented evidence to the Sites Board in May 1986 that four main buildings in that location "were in a sound state of repair, which would be an asset to the immediate neighborhood." Through his efforts and SOHO's vigorous letter-writing campaign, the City Council on October 14 upheld the Historical Site Board's historical and architectural designation of the colony's four cottages. The designation and subsequent counteractions by the developers have delayed demolition through 1989, while attempts by La Jolla preservationist Bob Barrymore have been underway to secure the land and retain the buildings.

SOHO president, Kathleen Kelly-Markham, endured tempestuous times at the close of 1986, enmeshed in the organization's struggle to preserve the Mission Beach Plunge and Park. In a letter to SOHO members from Kelley-Markham, dated November 10, she summarized, "SOHO has been involved in a lengthy battle to preserve historic Mission Beach Park. The Save the Mission Beach Park Committee has submitted an initiative to the City Clerk's office to restrict uses of the park to public park, recreation and historic preservation uses." She stated that on November 1, the committee would begin to collect signatures and needed to have 70,000 by the end of 1986 to halt demolition of the historic plunge building. She continued, "On November 3, the SOHO Board voted to support the initiative and to contribute $2,600 to the signatures campaign." She urged contributions for the $30,000 initiative cost and other related expenditures.

The initiative was placed on the ballot and received a majority of votes. Nonetheless, the approved redevelopment plans had long been in the hands of the City and San Diego had no extra money for park or building preservation at the time, nor did it attempt to appeal to the State for funds that were available. Lawsuits threatened the City and developers won out. The roller rink suffered demolition, as did the plunge building with only the pool area retained. SOHO was able, however, to salvage some of the chairs and artifacts contained within the plunge prior to demolition, which it periodically auctions off to interested historians with proceeds going for preservation projects.

Later, in 1988, in a last minute desperation plea, SOHO urged the retention of the historic pedestal and steps around the pool. Kelley-Markham and Mayor Maureen O'Connor joined the battle against the County of San Diego's Health Department, which said these features were unsafe. O'Connor argued, "It's the only last remaining essence of historical significance left. There is nothing left of that place except the tiles and the pedestal and the steps." As a result of their efforts, the City Council countermanded the Health Department's order and unanimously vowed to pursue any means to save the steps and pedestal.

In late summer of 1986, SOHO announced its sponsorship of the new chamber music series, Silver Gate Concerts, with SOHO members Lynn Schubert and Betty McManus in charge. Silver Gate concerts planned three chamber music programs in different historic sites during the 1986-87 season. It was felt that "chamber music should return to an environment where the dimensions and character of the performance space are suited to the scale and beauty of the music performed." The series planned to showcase both our local architectural and musical heritage.

SOHO that year was also instrumental in the adoption of a County Historic Preservation Ordinance and County Historic Site Board by the County Board of Supervisors. The organization worked for the establishment of such a body to protect sites located in unincorporated areas. Once approved in 1986, the five County Supervisors each appointed three people from their districts to sit on the Site Board, which met for the first time in December 1986.

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ABOUT SOHO

HISTORY OF SOHO
- THE FIRST 20 YEARS

Preface | Beginnings | 1969

1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974

1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979

1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984

1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989

- THE SECOND 20 YEARS

Four Decades of Historic Preservation
in San Diego County

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2476 San Diego Avenue · San Diego CA 92110 · Phone (619) 297-9327
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