Eva Knott 4:04 a.m., May 23
Your Tax Dollars are Being Used to Destroy Irreplaceable Historic Structures for More Housing. Help Save These Buildings!!!
You would think since the housing market has crashed that developers would not be building right now, right?
Wrong, now is the best time ever because of something called a "redevelopment agency" and YOUR property tax money.
The biggest obstacle to these new Walmart style condos going up everywhere with your tax dollars is people like me.
The city doesnt want you to know about planned demolitions. They do their best to keep them secret and believe me its practically a full-time job trying to track down the demo permits. And yes, they will let you know about demos.....after its been approved (as in this case) and then say you can't do anything about it even if its been approved with erroneous or downright fraudulant information.
I live on El Cajon Boulevard as in "Boulevard of the Arts", except their notion of "the arts" seems to mean tear down every last historic structure contributing to the neighborhood character for condos (see El Cajon and 30th) and paint the electrical boxes and ta da....you have an arts district. The entire page is dedicated to the "Utility Arts Gallery" which is great and all but come on.
Look at their projects on their webpage. This is what is replacing buildings like the salt box and dozens of craftsmans and the clay tile 7-up bottling plant and believe me their renderings are way better than the finished product.
Not to worry though, the city in all their brillance and benevolence said among other styles "El Cajon Boulevard has several remaining Craftsman homes that are not worthy of preservation because of the large pool of those in surrounding neighborhoods, although it would be interesting to preserve one or two as an example of the very early years of El Cajon Boulevard development."
ALRIGHT!!!!! We get to keep 1 or 2 on all of El Cajon Blvd!
I find it quite ironic that their homepage is the San Diego Stage and Lighting Building with all those gorgeous murals and that building is about to be demoed for yet another affordable housing project. (Nothing against affordable housing but when Obama gave 150 million in the stimulus money to buy up the GLUT of housing in California it didnt make sense to me to build more....maybe just turn the glut into affordable housing).
The latest victim in this historic architecture massacre is the block between Alabama and Florida Street on the north side. The block contains San Diego's only other Saltbox building in addition to the William Heath House downtown which is the Gaslamps oldest surviving structure. http://emporium.turnpike.net/~walk/sandiego/gaslamp/Is410.htm
yet somehow the developers didnt even mention that this building may be remotely historic in their report. The saltbox design was actually first seen as early as 1650. They are mostly found on the east coast so the fact that we have one here is EXTREMELY rare and makes it very valuable as a resource. The idea that it didn't even get a second look by the city is unconscionable. Here are some historic examples of the saltbox. http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/175_sal1.html
The block also contains 2 original craftsmans that just need a little TLC and a gem of a building behind the craftsmans and the SD Stage and Lighting...the old clay tile 7-up bottling factory.
The city didnt even think these were important enough to go before the Historic Review Board to allow the public to comment, but then again they just massacred 12 craftsmans on Florida street and the only suggestion of how to mitigate the environmental impact was to "match new sidewalks to the existing".. But it gets even better....its all being paid for with your tax dollars.
The city has created Redevelopment Agencies that have special powers. These Redevelopment Agencies can seize anyone's property under eminent domain as they have done in this case. My friend Ron describes it to me this way (I dont want to steal his words but he did such an excellent job explaining it to me and time is of the essence to get this word out) They get to hold back all the property taxes to subsidize the developer. They get the land for 5 cents on the dollar, then give it to a developer with as much as 40% of the funding for a condo project. Special agency, special powers, = tax money held back from the general fund.
Now does it make sense why we are continuing to see so much development when foreclosures are at a high......that's right because YOU are paying for it. Now that the private till has dried up its time to just get the public to pay for projects they dont want or need.
And our boy Todd Gloria received ALOT of money from private developers who also coincidentally were affordable housing developers. Affordable housing...thats where its at. You dont have to worry about the market because its all tax money. He still will not respond to me asking him about this. But Todd thinks this is a win win because he gets to pretend he is doing it for you when really he is doing it to pay back his contributors and we are getting the shaft.
The California Environmental Quality Act states that these projects MUST be reviewed as a whole. This project has changed substantially since the original permit was issued, thus the demo permit is null and void.
It started back in 2005 as a mixed-use urban development, seven stories on all properties from Florida St. around to Alabama. It was a for sale project using the density bonus to provide 180 units. Then it was redesigned under a new development with a decrease in height and the number of units to 94. When the economy collapsed the Housing Commission came in buying the permits and plans to put in affordable apartment units and case management for disturbed teens.
The problem is the demolition permit is INVALID because the entire project has changed. The city seems to think they can continually ignore the law and the citizens in favor of their favorite special interest group....the developers.
OK, its way too early for me to be awake writing. My brain is barely working. More on this later. But in the meantime if you feel as strongly about this misuse of eminent domain and your tax dollars please email the senior planner on this project Kelly Broughton and tell him the project MUST be re-reviewed and go through the city's Historic Resource Board so the community can comment.
We need to tell them:
(1) we STRONGLY object to the Saltbox being threatened, (2) more than 5 years has passed, (3) the project scope has changed. These should be reason enough to re-open the case.