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Executive Director Report

By Bruce Coons

Last week my work as an advocate took me from one battle to another, from the Old Police Headquarters at our bayfront, the Red Rest & Red Roost on our La Jolla coast, to the San Diego School district, back to the Port of San Diego for the Coronado Belt Line issue and so on. Attending well over a dozen meetings trying to protect one endangered piece of San Diego after another, one after another. Nothing unusual, but sadly this is a typical week.

In the last two years we have lost the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential library, two master architect designed landmarks, a William S. Hebbard and a Hebbard and Gill, and from the father of the American ranch house, one of the best examples of Cliff May's work. Politicians across America are embracing historic preservation as an essential economic element for revitalizing their communities and neighborhoods, businessmen and chambers of commerce are welcoming and encouraging the rehabilitation of historic buildings and main streets, and cities and towns around the country are working to get their share of the heritage tourism pie, which is 56% of every tourist dollar spent in the US.

In contrast, the San Diego Unified Port District continues its quest to demolish parts of' the Old Police Headquarters while the City of San Diego is sitting mildly by allowing the Federal government to destroy the city's namesake hotel, Hotel San Diego, thereby destroying another streetscape of our downtown. Some politicians in San Diego County remain in a 1970's 80's time warp and Chula Vista seems to be determined to remain the worst offender, flaunting the environmental process, pulling out all the political stops in attempts to have the State designation of the Coronado Railroad Line overturned so that a shopping mall can take its place.

These threats and the ones to come, which include the assault of our historic neighborhoods by new owners wanting to leave their mark on an area and then leave town for greener pastures, perhaps to wreck yet another historic neighborhood, and the constant threat to the sites on our current and past Most Endangered lists, mean the battle is never over even when it is temporarily won. Yes, threats to our historic past and character are still to be seen nationwide. The National Trust named 'teardowns in historic neighborhoods' as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places this year. Still, San Diego remains in a league of its own, overturning historic designations, refusing to act on their own ordinances and enforce laws that were put in place to protect our historic resources.

In the past, local politicians were simply ignorant of the importance of keeping our architectural history, but now with the preservation groundswell reaching a national obsession and even President Bush proclaiming historic preservation as essential to the strength and character of America, they can no longer claim ignorance. How is it that San Diego remains so much in the dark? I don't have the answer to that, it defies all logic and good sense. It is clear that it is up to us, all San Diegans, to do something about it.

We must insist that those elected are accountable, your vote is a strong tool for historic preservation. Attend public meetings, write, call, fax and e-mail your city and state representatives, write the newspapers, call in to radio talk programs, make it loud and clear that you will not stand quietly by and allow our county and our sense of self to be obliterated.

Urge your friends and neighbors to join SOHO. We are your voice, the only historic preservation voice in San Diego. It is with numbers that we have greater power. Please, help us save San Diego.

2002 - Volume 33, Issue 4

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

VIEW digital online version


Canfield-Wright House Rescued from Demolition!

Temple Beth Triumphant!


Coronado Railroad Designation to be Challenged

Executive Director Report


President's Message


SOHO Files Suit to Protect Red Roost and Red Rest Cottages

Border Field State Park


Volunteer Profile, Sandé Lollis


Getting To Know Your San Diego


Historical Resources Board


Welcome New SOHO Board of Directors


Remember SOHO in Your Will


Latest on the Old Police Headquarters


Remembering Claire


The Whaley House Junior Docent Program


Dreaming of a White Christmas


Around the Whaley House


Strength in Numbers


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