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Accurately, you said the hotel provided affordable housing for 11 percent of homeless citizens — a very important reason why CCDC and the City were part of the communitywide opposition. This was a significant loss of needed affordable housing.

You also failed to mention the political climate of the time: the unprecedented power leveraged by the Bush administration following 9/11, giving the feds power to ignore court decisions. It was the same with the border fence project, which SOHO took to the Supreme Court. But the feds via Homeland Security pulled rank.

Yes, the condition of such important landmarks as the California Theatre and Red Roost/Red Rest Cottages is deplorable. But they still stand because of SOHO. And because of that, they still have a chance.

The Ford dealership building. SOHO has pointed to this building’s significance for years. SOHO provided the City information on the building’s importance six years ago and again recently. But even before that, the Ford building was featured in SOHO’s Art Deco Treasures of San Diego Tour in the 1990s.

SOHO was always assured the resource would be brought before the Historical Resources Board for full review. But then the City made a decision that the Salvation Army qualified for an exemption from this review because it’s a religious organization. The City did this without telling anyone. With the process cloaked and notification withheld, the building came down. SOHO, with its long track record of problem-solving and making preservation partners out of adversaries, was shut out of the process.

The landmark was denied opportunity to live on.

The statement about SOHO allowing Warner’s Ranch to crumble is completely false. After working on this for years, funding for Warner’s was secured with SOHO’s help. Earlier this year the site was stabilized, and it is being restored right now.

The debate about whether Old Town San Diego State Historic Park should be about accurate history or about plastic umbrellas, white vinyl patio chairs, and margaritas may never go away. But to justify one perspective only to discount another by labeling someone an “Anglophile” is not right.

Adobes are a passion for Bruce Coons. And Bruce is known for his love of the Mexican period more than any other. This talk in the article about him being an “Anglophile” is unfounded. It was Bruce’s passion that led him to buy an 1837 Mexican-period adobe home, which he completed with Spanish and Mexican early California art.

Bruce Coons’s strong interest and concern for the Mexican period and for adobes goes back a long way. At 10 years old he was the youngest member of the San Diego Historical Society. By 11 he was doing his first archeological dig through the young historians program. He spent a lot of time in Old Town well before it became a state park. Bruce Coons knows Old Town and its history.

There are some strong comments by Vonn Marie May in the article. The bitterness of those comments should be viewed in some context. When SOHO decided to hire a full-time executive director, Bruce Coons was chosen. Vonn Marie had wanted and expected the position. Board members from that time have told me what followed was her severe case of sour grapes, a bitterness that continues to manifest through comments in articles such as this one.

That Bruce Coons was hired as a consultant for Delaware North is not unusual. This is common practice in preservation groups throughout the country, to hire leading experts as consultants — professionals and experts from within a group. SOHO members are frequently hired for preservation projects. Vonn Marie was herself hired as a consultant for that same project. In fact, her team’s own report suggested an even later period of restoration. So enough of this “Anglophile” nonsense.

“Does SOHO need saving — from itself?” As California’s oldest continually operating preservation group, SOHO has learned, evolved, and grown. SOHO is a local partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Its national and international influence is demonstrated when calls come in from other cities, states, and Mexico seeking help and advice on preservation issues.

SOHO operates/manages eight historic properties, publishes an award-winning magazine, produces educational and advocacy films, conducts workshops and lectures, and continues its popular historic architecture tours. Many of the great historical buildings in San Diego today are here because of SOHO.

In 2009, when asked about the organization he helped found 41 years ago, Robert Miles Parker said, “This is something I normally don’t say about anything, but I am incredibly, incredibly proud.”

Dan Soderberg
Vice President

Hardly Notice The Gunfire

Re “You Want Silver or Lead?” (Cover Story, September 23). Very well done story. Accurate and to the point. I live in Culiacán, Sinaloa, and I know that everything you printed is real and then some. We sleep to the sounds of gunfire and wake up to the news of eight to ten people murdered by sicarios, wrapped in blankets or inside garbage bags. The gruesome way these people murder has become normal.

The sad part is that we’ve become desensitized as a society in this part of the country. Also, the age of these teenage killers is something we can’t get used to. We suffer for the families of the victims that are killed just because they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Your quote from my cousin Norma Corona Sapién is exactly the way she used to talk about the problems in our society in those days. Norma was killed for her beliefs as a human rights activist. The story about the Venezuelan man who seduced Palma’s wife is also related to Norma’s assassination because this man was a friend of five Venezuelan students who were Norma’s law students who were tortured and killed in order to get information on the Venezuelan guy. Norma investigated this crime, and when she got too close to finding out what happened, they got rid of her.

Maria Spielberger
via email

A Holy Ha-Ha-Ha

Concerning Walter Mencken’s “Holy War?” piece (“SD on the QT”) in the September 23 issue: Tom Cantor can be a charming guy, and his views on religion are hilarious. There is nothing charming or funny, however, about his wholly owned company Scantibodies Laboratories, Inc. At its original “ranch” in Ramona and at a much larger facility opened recently in Tecate, SLI produces monoclonal antibodies in mice.

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David Dodd Oct. 13, 2010 @ 2:53 p.m.

Re: "Not James"

Whether it's "James" or "Didacus", the more research one does, it becomes apparent that this question of namesake is likely a minor issue. The first issue you'll encounter when using multiple texts for reference, is that Vizcaíno's date of entering (and by some accounts, naming) San Diego vary. I've read November 10th, November 12th, December 17th, it goes on and on. Regardless, there are issues in any case with any date.

November 12th is the most common date referenced, presumably because the feast day for Saint Didacus is on November 12th. Unfortunately for historians, when Didacus was canonized in 1588, his feast day was celebrated on November 13th by all Catholics (other than Franciscans) because the feast day of Pope Saint Martin I was occupying the actual day of the death of Didacus. That date wasn't officially changed until 1969, when the Catholic Church moved St. Martin's feast day to sometime in April. I believe that the priests attached to Vizcaíno's expedition were Carmelites, and as such, would have celebrated the feast of Saint Didacus on November 13th.

A more plausible explanation might reside behind the name of Vizcaíno's flagship, the San Diego. I can find no reliable data for when the San Diego was built, which could lend a further clue as to the name origin, but the timing seems to be in favor of the ship being named after a freshly canonized Catholic. However, since there was no Spanish translation of the bible used by any order of Catholics in 1602, Saint James would have more likely been Saint Iacomus in any reference, leaving - in this case - Saint Didacus as the probable root of San Diego. Presuming that Spanish priests, on their own, decided to offer their own translations out of Latin is quite a stretch.

The only reasonable justification for using Didacus as a possible translation for James would be so as to not confuse him with any of the other Saint James, but I suspect not because the Spaniards commonly referred to him as "de Alcalá" which would automatically differentiate. Santiago is, indeed, Spanish for James in translated Bibles, but Spanish etymology isn't so simple as it is in other languages. In English, one word often means several things, where in Spanish you can find several words (all with different origins) that mean the same thing.

The problem is in trying to figure out what those words meant in 1602.


monaghan Nov. 13, 2010 @ 9:43 a.m.


Well, the correspondent who hates Duncan's movie reviews will be happy this week, since Shepherd apparently has written his last column. Say it isn't so! In my heart, I know it is! I am bereft! OMG!

I am very sorry to see Duncan Shepherd leave the Reader after 38 years. He wrote the most convoluted and self-referential reviews I have ever read, and his black spot rating system was idiosyncratic, but I read him every week. That he concludes with words of gratitude for the remarkable editorial freedom he has always enjoyed under publisher Jim Holman was proper and graceful. That he ends with a quote from Tennyson and the vain wish he were still seeing (better) movies in a big old movie palace in Minneapolis in the late '60's just breaks my heart.

Ave atque vale, Duncan Shepherd.


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