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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.
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.