Both groups contend that demolition of the 1894 Craftsman-style home built by famed La Jolla architect Irving Gill was done in violation of state regulations while the home was in the process of being historically designated.
The Bernate Ticino family that owns the property and their representative, Tim Golba, a La Jolla architect and a San Diego planning commissioner, argued that Windemere Cottage had been extensively remodeled and added to over time, which is the reason why it failed three times to garner enough votes by the city’s Historic Resources Board to be declared historical.
“The home (Windemere) was relocated and that is a major blow in terms of an analysis of its historical integrity,” testified Golba, who added the cottage “was found to be a nuisance in six categories.” Golba contended a demolition permit was subsequently secured observing proper due process.
Property owner Frank Botini said Windemere was structurally deficient, constituting a “public nuisance.” He said the cottage was turned down three times by the Historical Resources Board for historical designation, adding, “We don’t control the HRB.”
District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner made the motion to support the appeal of the project.
“I do not believe this project should be categorically exempt from the CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act),” Lightner said. “The Windemere Cottage was considered an icon of early architectural development in La Jolla. The system failed at every turn to protect this historic property. Windemere is a perfect example of wanton and calculated destruction of this cottage. This is a wake-up call to all of us about the abuse of the system.”
Reacting to the council action, Leslie Davis, LJHS preservation committee chairwoman, said, “We prevailed in our third appearance in council chambers to requite the demolition of La Jolla’s oldest inhabited home. We can’t bring back Windemere Cottage. But we can send a message to those who are intent on abusing the system and cynically destroying our historic resources.”
Councilmembers Kevin Faulconer, Lorie Zapf and Mark Kersey voted against the appeal, with Councilman Scott Sherman abstaining.