Dear Mayor Bailey and Councilmembers,
The Coronado Historical Association (CHA) thanks you for your leadership and commitment to Coronado and its citizens. Coronado’s cultural and historic heritage endures through our historic neighborhoods and their community ambiance. CHA is proud to serve as the primary steward of Coronado’s heritage and history.
On behalf of CHA, I am writing to express to you that the Board of Directors of CHA strongly (and unanimously) supports the Coronado Planning Commission’s recommendation at its hearing on July 28, 2020 to deny the application for a Major Special Use Permit, Parking Plan, and a Coastal Permit for Crown Manor at 1015 Ocean Avenue [sic] in the R-1A (Single Family Residential) Zone. The Board of Directors of CHA believes that the decision of the Planning Commission is not only the correct decision under the circumstances but also is fully consistent with the intent of the provisions of the Historic Resources Code which allows owners of designated historic properties flexibility through the principle of “adaptive reuse”. In the context of the residential character of the City of Coronado, CHA believes that the ability of owners of historic properties to take advantage of the opportunity to seek adaptive reuse of their properties is important but should always be tempered by the need for protection of Coronado’s residential neighborhoods. While CHA hopes that every historic structure can be saved, it would be of little value to the citizens of Coronado to save a particular structure by allowing its adaptive reuse for a commercial purpose if the effect that adaptive reuse is to destroy the residential character of the neighborhood which is so cherished by our citizens.
Hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council relating to Special Use Permits are covered by Coronado Municipal Code section 86.55.060, which grants the “authorized agency” authority to deny the application of a Special Use Permit if it makes certain findings. When the application is for a Major Special Use Permit, Coronado Municipal Code section 86.55.040 requires that the application first be made to the Planning Commission but that the final decision is to be made by City Council as the “authorized agency.” The findings required to be made by the authorized agency under section 86.55.060 are outlined in paragraphs A through D of section 86.55.060.
In this case, because the application is for a Major Special Use Permit, CHA understands that the decision of the Planning Commission is only advisory and that City Council is required to make the final decision on the application. Although we believe that facts were shown at the Planning Commission hearing sufficient to support a finding under all of paragraphs A through D of section 86.55.060, we want to call your attention specifically to paragraph D, which we believe clearly supports disapproval of an application when the proposed adaptive reuse would effectively serve to destroy the character of the neighborhood, and by extension, cause significant damage to the residential character of the city itself.
Section 86.55.060, Paragraph D allows an application to be denied if it is determined that the location or operating characteristics of the proposed use will be incompatible with or will adversely affect or will be materially detrimental to impacted uses, residences, buildings, structures or natural resources, with consideration given to, but not limited to the following:
- The inadequacy of public facilities, services and utilities to serve the proposed use;
- The harmful effect, if any, upon a desirable neighborhood character;
- The inability of the capacity and physical character of surrounding streets to safely deal with traffic that will be generated by the proposed use;
- The unsuitability of the site for the type or intensity of use which is proposed; and
- The harmful effect, if any, upon the environmental quality and natural resources of the City.
As a home in the R-1A – SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL ZONE, 1015 Ocean Blvd. is in one of the most historic neighborhoods in Coronado with a character that is unique in all of San Diego County. Although it is opposite a public beach, the area does not contain any properties which are used for commercial purposes. Built in 1902, 1015 Ocean Blvd. is recognized on the City of Coronado Register of Designated Historic Resources and has a Mills Act Agreement. The home is designated historic under the following Criteria:
- It exemplifies or reflects special elements of the City’s military, cultural, social, economic, political, aesthetic, or engineering, history;
- It is identified with a person(s) or an event(s) significant in local, state or national history;
- It possesses distinctive characteristics of an architectural style, and has not been substantially altered; and
- It is representative of the notable work of a builder, designer, architect, artisan or landscape professional.
The historic designation given to this property is intended to protect the architectural and historical integrity of this Hebbard and Gill designed Tudor Style home. As a result of the historic designation, the homeowner receives a substantial property tax reduction under the Mills Act.
Although 1015 Ocean Blvd. is clearly a valuable historic resource, it is also surrounded by many historically designated and beautiful homes, all of which are used as residences, and even by a historically designated Decorative Brick Estate Wall that was part of the original property. Indeed, as City staff acknowledges, “historically designated properties are a key component of Coronado’s character.” The CHA Board strongly believes that although the maintenance of historic structures is essential to Coronado’s character, that character is not derived only from the fact that a particular house is maintained, but also from the very nature of those neighborhoods which have been maintained as residential neighborhoods for more than 100 years. In this case, the maintenance of the neighborhood in which 1015 Ocean Blvd. is located is so reflective of the history of Coronado that it is one of a handful of neighborhoods which are critical to the historic integrity of our City. The proposed adaptive re-use of the historic building at 1015 Ocean Blvd. for commercial uses would so significantly change the feel and character of this neighborhood which has maintained its residential character for well over 100 years that denial of the application was sufficient based upon the standards provided in section 86.55.060, subparagraph D(2) alone. The additional use, noise, and impact of a commercial use which was acknowledged by the applicant at the hearing has the potential to harm the other nearby historic buildings and resources also justified denial of the application based upon subparagraphs D(1), D(3), D(4) and D(5). The impact of this commercial use of this property cannot be overemphasized as testimony at the hearing clearly showed that the proposed commercial use would render the adjacent and nearby private residences unsuitable for their historic use as private residences.
The CHA Board also believes that approval of this application has the potential to be far ranging to the extent it would open the door for increased commercial uses in the neighborhood by causing nearby owners to seek similar “adaptive reuse” because of the negative impact of the commercial use of this property. There are over 200 other properties in Coronado that are Designated Historical Resources. Approval of this request would set a precedent and open the door for numerous additional requests for similar adaptive reuse. CHA therefore supports the Planning Commission’s recommendation to deny the Special Use Permit and thereby protect the overall historic character of this residential neighborhood.
In summation, CHA’s Board of Directors believes that the recommendation of the Planning Commission to City Council that this permit application be denied was correct. We therefore thank the Planning Commission for its dedication to protecting the residential character of our community and we urge you to follow the recommendation of the Planning Commission when you are called upon to decide this application.
David Landon, Chairman
Coronado Historical Association Board of Directors
Art Wilcox, Vice Chairman
Kitt Williams, Secretary
Jane Simeral, Treasurer