A plan that would add five permanent cottages for ten countries to Balboa Park's House of Pacific Relations was sent back for revision Thursday, March 6, after a packed meeting that pitted a room full of supporters against a staff finding against the plan.
The plan, introduced by Vicki Estrada of Estrada Land Planning, would put five duplexes in the House of Pacific Relations: three at the southwest end and two at the northeast. Estrada emphasized that the plan is in its early stages. A yes vote would mean that planners and staff could develop it further and take it to the park planning commission for further consideration.
The area is home to the 19 original cottages — built for Balboa Park’s 1935 California Pacific International Exposition — and four additional cottages. Some 32 countries are active in the area, best known for their participation in the December Nights festival. Countries without cottages work from the Hall of Nations.
Under Estrada's plan, ten countries — including Mexico, India, Korea, and the Philippines — would get permanent places.
Committee member Andrew Kahng noted that Estrada's plan was met with "One of the most comprehensively negative staff opinions I've seen in five-plus years on this committee." However, Kahng noted, "It is incomprehensible that there is no House of Mexico now."
Despite overwhelming support — including a letter from county supervisor Dianne Jacob, vocal support from other houses and from Bruce Koons, of Save Our Heritage Organisation, the committee was not ready to approve the plan.
"I think some of the criteria hasn't been met. But I think the criteria can be met. I think you're close," said committee member Mike Singleton. "I'd like to see staff and the applicant go back to work on this."