continued Chart figures that the current Uptown neighborhood lost a few nice Craftsman bungalows to an apartment building on Robinson Avenue between Tenth and Vermont. "It's this massive brownish stucco Spanish Revival monster taking up half the block," says Chart. The perpendicular parking places in front extend the length of the building. "They're trying to go condo in that building," he complains, "and they'll probably do it." What that will do, he argues, is extend the life of an ugly building.
The area that lost the most old homes in San Diego is between University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights. The area was upzoned for higher density in the '60s and '70s. On 35th Street "it's now wall-to-wall dingbats," says Chart. "If you notice architecture, it's painful to drive through there. It's just this row of boxes."
But Chart prefers to focus on the positive. We drive to South Park and circle east into Burlingame, whose pink sidewalks famously set it apart. At Kalmia Street and San Marcos Avenue we come upon the "library tower" that Chart says he learned about several years ago. "Now, it does clash with the neighborhood; it's out of place," he says. "But the owner did a great job. It looks like he started with a plain stucco box, a cheap Spanish Revival. And he kept the original form, preserving the squarishness and plainness of it, the white stucco walls. But he built this whimsical tower on top. And as I recall reading somewhere, it really is a library tower. It's for his book collection. I've walked by a number of times, and the guy obviously appreciates the fact that people like his house. I've seen him up there in the tower, and he's waved to me a couple of times. He seems like a good guy -- and proud of what he's done."
Nearby we come upon a larger square stucco house with vertical blue strips on its front. "There's the white stucco," says Chart, "so it's Mediterranean, and he's added this glorious light blue. Then there's the big picture window. Got to show that off. I dare say he was doing something like Greek isle, trying to bring to San Diego a little Santorini and Chios, a couple of Greek party islands all the backpackers go to, including myself. Being there is like walking around a film set. Winding little streets and all white stucco."
And farther on appears a large house with reddish brown shingle siding. "It has elements that make it look like a Swiss chateau," remarks Chart. "This one could be up in the Alps somewhere. You know, Günther and Heidi are in there getting ready to go skiing.
"I get such a kick out of walking here just because it's so different. The fun thing is going around and trying to read these buildings, especially as an amateur. You're trying to figure out where they're from, trying to decode them."