Red Roost & Red Rest Update
By Barry Hager
Photo by Erik Hanson
The Red Roost and Red Rest cottages are in the saddest chapter yet in their history. For years, the current owner of the cottages, the La Jolla Cove Motel & Hotel Suites (the Heimburge Family), has withheld all maintenance in the apparent hope that the cottages will simply disintegrate, allowing the land to be scraped for development. By their inaction, they have been violating a San Diego Municipal Code ordinance, which was specifically enacted to prevent the demolition by neglect of historical resources. The ordinance became effective in January 2000, deterioration has accelerated since that time.
Following a meeting in January of this year between representatives of SOHO, the owner of the cottages, and the City of San Diego Neighborhood Code Compliance Department, it appeared that the owner of the cottages might take some measures to prevent further deterioration of the cottages. However, as the weeks and months have gone by without any action, it has became obvious that the owner does not intend to voluntarily do anything to preserve the cottages. Additionally, a letter from the owner's attorney to the NCCD in March of this year hinted that the owner intends to resist compliance, claiming that the demolition by neglect statute does not apply to them.
The Neighborhood Code Compliance Department, in April, finally issued a long-overdue Notice of Violation to the owner of the cottages. To our knowledge, this is the first Notice of Violation issued to an owner of a historically designated property for violation of the demolition by neglect ordinance. Among other things, the Notice required the owner to obtain a permit to replace the roofs of the cottages by May 29, 2002. Not surprisingly, however, the owner has failed to obtain such a permit as of press time for this issue. Despite having several enforcement options at its disposal, more than a month after this deadline has passed, Neighborhood Code Compliance has not announced any plans to take action against the owner.
To add to their woes, the cottages have also become a target for vandalism. Large chunks of concrete have been thrown onto the roofs of the cottages. On Saturday, June 29, 2002, a series of arson fires scorched portions of the cottages. The fires generated local news coverage and a television news crew actually recorded the arsonist returning to the scene to light another fire! The arsonist was arrested the same evening and is being held on $500,000 bail. While there is no known link between the arsonist and the owner of the cottages, the owner bears ultimate responsibility for allowing the cottages to deteriorate to their present condition and for inadequate security to prevent vandalism.
The Heimburge Family and the La Jolla Cove Hotel & Suites continue their open defiance of the law and their arrogant attitude toward these irreplaceable historic cottages and toward the people of San Diego. The coming weeks will test the resolve of the City of San Diego to enforce its own laws and to stand up to the Heimburge Family. SOHO is also considering its options to take legal action to ensure that these historic cottages do not perish forever.
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