Although the Irving Gill cottage was demolished in December 2011 after the structure was denied historic designation by the city’s Historic Resources Board (HRB), both the La Jolla Historical Society (LJHS) and La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) filed appeals of the city’s environmental determination citing that the demolition was in violation of CEQA because of the applicant’s segmentation of the property.
La Jolla Historical Society’s (LJHS) executive director Heath Fox said the applicant systematically removed eaves and brackets deemed structurally unsafe, thereby also rendering the building too altered for historic designation. LJHS’s attorney, Julie Hamilton, also indicated that the whole project — including the once-standing Windemere Cottage — must be included in the environmental determination, not just the now-vacant lot.
“Everyone involved in this decision-making process knew or should have known that Windemere was important,” said Fox. “First, for the legacy of Irving Gill. It was the oldest Gill structure in La Jolla. Second, as an example of very early arts-and-craft cottage architecture that is so unique to La Jolla. Third, because this was an early cottage constructed of old growth redwood, now protected and no longer harvested, and leaded glass windows, which are no longer made.”
Owner Frank Bottini said he and his family did everything in accordance to the city’s rules and regulations, and he urged the council members to deny the appeal.
“We don’t believe there is merit to the appeal and ask that you reject it. We are not developers. We are a young family trying to build a house,” he said. “The appeal today is basically — what we can understand — by people who are upset that the house didn’t get designated. People may be upset with that, but it doesn’t change the reality there is a process in place and it was followed.”
Councilmembers Sherri Lightner, Myrtle Cole, David Alvarez and Marti Emerald voted in favor of the appeal, and council members Kevin Faulconer, Mark Kersey, Lori Zapf and Todd Gloria opposed it. Councilman Scott Sherman had to recuse himself from the vote due to a tie to the La Jolla Historical Society’s brokerage firm.
The agenda item will be reconsidered at the City’s Council’s meeting on June 24.