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House to be Saved & New Group Formed

The proposed demolition of an especially outstanding Mission Revival house in the Point Loma community of La Playa prompted resident Katheryn Rhodes to spearhead a community activist group whose first mission was to save this landmark.

A neighborhood meeting was organized and the developer/owner and his family were invited to attend the meeting. His willingness to come to the meeting to learn about the neighborhood's concerns regarding his proposed development was noted and very much appreciated by the community.

The meeting began with a brief overview of the proposed development. The project included the demolition of the historic home and a subdivision of the large lot into two parcels. Not only would this project destroy the beautiful home, but it would also increase the density in the neighborhood and irreparably damage the character of what is one of San Diego's most intact historic neighborhoods.

After a brief presentation of historical information on the house, neighbors introduced themselves and voiced their concerns about the demolition of the historic home. More than thirty neighbors discussed their heartfelt reasons why the historic home should not be demolished and their reasons why the large lot should not be split. The home is a historic landmark within the neighborhood. Many neighbors fondly recalled their encounters with previous owner Mr. Fanning, who walked around the neighborhood until his death in 2003.

The neighbors also voiced their concerns regarding increasing the density in the established neighborhood, and keeping the estate intact. Many expressed concern about the trend of condominiums encroaching up the hillside of La Playa and the associated increase in traffic and parking problems. The increased density and infilling by condominiums starts at San Diego Bay and is currently to San Elijo Street.

Two neighbors offered to buy the home in its current condition and to restore the home to its original splendor. Many neighbors told of having historical homes in the neighborhood and the challenges of restoration and upkeep.

The new owner then had a chance to tell the neighbors how he came to his decision to develop the lot by demolishing the home and subdividing the lot. He said that he originally planned to live in the home with his family. However, all the consultants who evaluated the condition of the home's foundation advised him that the structure could not be saved.

Fortunately SOHO Executive Director Bruce Coons was at the meeting to refer the owner to appropriate consultants for historical restorations. The meeting ended with the owner promising that he would contact SOHO about the possibility of restoring the home.

The owner, Todd Stuyk, followed through immediately. Tony Court of the Curry Price Court structural engineering firm was recommended and was able to find a solution that will allow the house to be restored. Mr. Stuyk has withdrawn the development project and intends to restore the house and live there with his family as he had initially hoped.

This is a great preservation story because it shows the difference a community can make when they empower themselves to do what is right for the entire community in the long term. By looking at the bigger picture they could clearly see what the wrong development would do to this beautiful area of La Playa and how it would doom the integrity, character and beauty of this unique neighborhood for the future.

This neighborhood group is now called La Playa Heritage; their wonderful website can be found at www.laplayaheritage.com.

This is the second community to have formed their own group based on, but not limited to, historic preservation. Earlier this year Mission Hills neighbors formed Mission Hills Heritage, on the web at www.missionhillsheritage.org. SOHO has supported both these groups and we are very pleased to see this type of advocacy beginning to take root in San Diego.


Editors note: SOHO president Beth Montes, La Playa homeowner Stephanie, and myself were driving in the neighborhood looking for homes for next March's Craftsman & Spanish Revival Weekend, which will be held in La Playa. As we came to the gorgeous Mission Revival home we saw the notice posted at the site for the city permit to develop. We jumped out of the van to jot down contact details. Stephanie had heard rumors but this was the real deal. We tried to call Bruce but he wasn't answering. When we got back to the SOHO office it turned out that Bruce couldn't answer because he was fielding so many calls from the neighbors of La Playa! This community really sprang into action and importantly they knew where to get help. Our hats are off to the people of La Playa.


Photo by Bruce Coons

2005 - Volume 36, Issue 3

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Court Rules


Historical Resources Board - Safe for Now


ASAA Government Affairs Program


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House to be Saved & New Group Formed


Building Ordinance Adopted


Most Endangered List of Historic Resources


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A Beautiful Evening: People in Preservation Awards

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Glossary of Terms


The Historic Derby-Pendleton House


Meet Victor Santana, Whaley House Head Docent
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Craftsman House Available


House by Modernist Architect Gregory Ain Discovered
Don't Miss SOHO's San Diego Modernism Weekend 2005

Strength in Numbers


Lost San Diego


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