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Larry Culbertson, San Clemente

In the May 18-24 edition of the San Clemente Times, I wrote about a proposal to significantly alter another historic building in San Clemente. Since about 1996, our city has stopped granting permission to demolish our historic buildings. But there is no limit to the number of square feet that can be added or where you put them. What is the difference between demolishing a historic building and altering it so that it looks quite different from the original? Would it remain a historic building?

On July 19, our Planning Commission decide the fate of 404 Monterey Lane. Built in 1927 as a 981-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom home, it would be expanded by 984 square feet. This is not a proposal for a discreet addition tucked out of sight; it is for a highly visible, very large two-story addition rammed against a beautiful one-story historic building. Those “long, horizontal lines” of the building are listed as one of its’ many character defining features.

Click here to view the proposals to the home. 

This project does not meet the requirements of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, the city’s General Plan, or the city’s design guidelines. We are required to be “respectful” of our historic resources. We can add to them, but the addition must be compatible with respect to “size, scale and proportion, and massing to protect the integrity of the property.” We cannot destroy any character-defining features. We cannot alter the “features, spaces and spatial relationships that characterize a property.” This project would violate all of those criteria set by the city.

It is incredible to me that the Planning Commission would contort the rules to allow this project, but it has happened before. Please take the time to go look at 404 Monterey Lane. We must save this historic resource. If you agree with me that this is a historic resource worth preserving, then help the cause of preservation by writing a letter, sending an email, calling the Planning Commissioners, attending the meeting or speaking at the meeting. Commissioners do not respond much to a lone voice, but a chorus, maybe.

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comments (3)

  • so the historic society will try to prevent a family from developing a house to suit their needs
    but will unleash 400 drunk concert goers into our neighborhoods because the miramar has no parking .

    plus a 150 restaurant goers , employees delivery men and security , so close to 700 mostly alcohol addled patrons into the adjoining neighborhood

    is it graft or strong arm extortion how the historic society will be remembered in history,,
    purveyors of blight preferred by profiteers thieves of beach parking and funds shame !!

  • I’m very much in support of the remodel at 404. As an owner of a historical property myself, I believe in preserving the integrity of our historic landmarks, but you can not expect a family with kids to live in a 981 sqft home.
    Every home down in that area has been remodeled and added onto. In my humble opinion, I believe the homeowners have done a good job in respecting the original integrity of the property while making it livable.
    What I do have a problem with is the self appointed historic committee inflicting their personal opinions when many of them don’t even own a historic property. Going to wine mixers at Casa Romantica to discuss the travesty of modern development then going back to their cozy McMassion’s doesn’t seem “respectful”. I think it’s time to update the historical society!

  • Well said Patrick. I also support the proposed improvements at 404 Monterey and asked my friends and neighbors to contact the city voicing their support for the homeowners proposal.

    I could not help but notice that the homeowners have fully complied with all city requirements and that Larry got it wrong. The proposal complies with Sec. of Interior Standards. Perhaps he didn’t read his own attachment. I hope the city gives final approval and allows the homeowners to expand their home, and private property, to accommodate the needs of their family.

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