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SOHO Files Suit in Del Mar to Stop Demolition

SOHO filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus in the San Diego Superior Court (Case No. GIC 839854) on December 9, 2004, challenging the City of Del Mar's approval of the demolition of the historic Batchelder House. An Environmental Impact Report that was prepared for the project illustrated feasible alternatives to demolition, and the suit points out that under mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act such alternatives preclude approval of demolition.

The project applicant wishes to divide the Del Mar parcel into two lots and build two new single family homes. Ironically, the new homes are proposed to mimic the Craftsman style architecture of the existing house.

Executive Director Bruce Coons explained that "as a compromise, one alternative is to move the Batchelder House onto one side of the lot, allowing a second home to be built on the newly created second lot." The goal of having two single-family homes on two lots would then be accomplished without the loss of an important historic resource. Famed architect Richard Requa built the Batchelder House in 1924.

Coons stated further that "the EIR process worked just as it should, confirming the historic significance of the Batchelder House and analyzing the feasible alternatives to demolition. The City, however erroneously claimed that preserving the home would be a financial hardship and that HABS documentation would reduce the impact of the demolition to a level "below significance" as reasons for approving the demolition. In other words, draw it, photograph it, and the demolition is not an impact to the resource. These are of course ridiculous assertions and this forced us to take action so it cannot happen in the future."

The suit seeks a peremptory writ ordering the City of Del Mar to set aside its approval of demolition because there are feasible alternatives.

2005 - Volume 36, Issue 1

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