Presumably they've got Labor Day off, but demolition and construction crews along a certain well-heeled street in La Jolla have lately been as busy as the inhabitants of the symbolic Mormon beehive.
As noted last week by the La Jolla Light, the paper now owned by U-T publisher and real estate mogul Douglas Manchester, Dunemere Drive in the historic Barber Tract has become a land of frantic demolitions and fast-rising second stories.
"Dunemere Drive is under construction/destruction,” Barber Tract resident Mike Duddy told the Light. “In the 20 years I’ve lived here, I have never seen almost every house on the block being destroyed or let go.…”
"We’ve essentially lost Cliff Robertson’s home to a minor remodel and I’m afraid to see a small, beautiful cottage that the neighborhood is known for disrupted. I just hope it’s done in a way that is sensitive to the history of neighborhood. I’m seeing it just slowly erode away.”
First among the neighborhood's high-dollar projects is the ultimate teardown: GOP ex-presidential candidate Mitt Romney's beachside abode, which used to be owned by Democratic mayor Maureen O'Connor, who subsquently squandered her wealth on Indian casino poker machines and copped a plea to stealing from her late husband's charitable foundation.
Romney’s mid-century house has been scraped to the ground, awaiting the renewed majesty of a much bigger manse that has taken years to get permits to build, including a lengthy hold on the controversial project during Romney's run for the presidency.
As reported here a year ago, hurdles have included a Coastal Commission challenge by La Jolla architect Toni Ciani.
The saga started almost four years ago when, as first noted here in December 2010, the ex–Massachusetts governor and wife Ann paid $1000 to La Jolla’s Island Architects to lobby city hall for approval of a coastal development permit at the exclusive oceanfront address, according to a disclosure form filed by Island’s Tony Crisafi that November 1.
In addition, La Jolla-based lobbyist Matthew Peterson, a ubiquitous presence at both planning meetings and political fundraisers, has so far received at least $61,025 to grease the skids for the mansion with local politicos, lobbyist disclosure filings say.
Campaign disclosure records show that Peterson and members of his firm, Peterson and Price, have given a total of $29,098 to city candidates since 2006, including $2000 to Democrat Bob Filner's mayoral bid and $1250 to the GOP Lincoln Club.
Republican current mayor Kevin Faulconer's 2014 campaign got the most: $4950.
Other Peterson clients of the rich and famous variety have included Texas billionaire Darwin Deason, who has forked over big cash to get permits for a new water-side estate on Spindrift Drive.