SIGN THE PETITION HERE to add your name to the community of neighbors who oppose tearing down historic homes for a parking lot.
How and why is this being allowed to happen?
The St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church owns almost the entire block where these two houses are located on Indiana Street. This is the block between Park Blvd. and Indiana St. going east/west and between Robinson Ave. and Cypress Ave. going north/south. The block consists of the church and it’s administration buildings and a unique mix of commercial property and historic homes. Presently the church has a very large parking lot which it has decided it wants to expand and that is their reasoning for destroying these homes: because they want more parking.
Although this would normally not be allowed to happen with a regular homeowner, the church is being given special treatment and allowed to destroy these homes because of a religious exemption.
“This exemption excludes them from the historic review process, historic designation, and a Site Development Permit for relocation. As long as the church owns these houses they can complete any work to them without the historic review.” – City of San Diego Historic Resources
Is it really about the church’s parking issue?
This particular intersection of Park Blvd. and Robinson Ave. has seen tremendous growth in the last few years, most recently with Jonathan Segal’s luxury lofts being built on the NW corner.
It is quite possible that the premise the church gives for demolishing these houses – to expand their parking lot – is not the actual reason the church is demolishing them. It could be a stepping stone to a much larger development project.
The property is incredibly valuable in terms of it’s development potential on Park Blvd. however certain California laws like CEQA make it more difficult to demolish homes in an effort to develop properties. CEQA, or the California Environmental Quality Act, is a statute that requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.
Traditionally developers do not like CEQA because the process can hinder a project’s timeline. One workaround for CEQA is to list the reason that you are demolishing a property is so that you can develop a parking lot. Once the properties are destroyed a developer can then come back and apply for a new development permit without going through the lengthy process of obtaining demolition permits that would have been required originally under CEQA. It is unknown if the church has been approached by a developer and/or if the destruction of these homes is somehow connected to a larger plan involving future development projects. However the church has publicly stated that they do plan to develop the entire block at some point.