By Kristin Harms, University Heights Resident
Established in 1888, University Heights is one of San Diego’s oldest communities and deserving of preservation and protection of its many historic assets.
At a special public meeting on August 19, 2015, Uptown Planners voted to support recommendations for the June 2015 draft of the Uptown Historic Preservation Element from four historic preservation groups including the University Heights Historical Society (UHHS), Hillcrest History Guild, Mission Hills Heritage, and Save Our Heritage Organization.
The UHHS recommended nine historic districts for incorporation into the Historic Preservation Element—three for North Park and six for Uptown. All three districts in North Park were included in the draft June 2015 Historic Preservation Element, but none of those recommended for Uptown were incorporated into the latest draft. Following is a summary of the districts included and not included.
While support for historic preservation from our community groups is important, City staff also need to hear from the community. Click here to take action now.
UHHS Recommendations Incorporated into June 2015 Historic Preservation Element
Following are the three historic districts in North Park that were included in the draft June 2015 Historic Preservation Element:
- Valle Vista Terrace: This tract of 89 luxury homes on Panorama Street, Cliff Street, and the north side of Adams Avenue, was built by the University Heights Syndicate in 1908, in anticipation of the growth fueled by the extension of the streetcar line along Adams Avenue.
- Spalding Place: In 1908, Frank Spalding came to San Diego from Kansas City, Missouri. In 1910, he purchased the lots lining the alleyway between Park Boulevard and Georgia Street from the San Diego Electric Railway Company, and built all of the existing 14 Craftsman-style bungalows.
- Expansion of Shirley Ann Place Historic District: The current district is composed of 26 Spanish Colonial Revival bungalows built during the 1920s by the Alberta Security Company. The proposed expansion would extend the boundaries of the designated historic district one half-block east to Texas Street, and one half-block west to Louisiana Street.
UHHS Recommendations Not Incorporated into June 2015 Historic Preservation Element
Uptown Planners voted to include the following historic districts into the Uptown Historic Preservation Element for Uptown, which were not included in the June 2015 draft:
- Creation of a Normal Street Historic District: The homes in this 4000 block of Normal Street qualify for historic significance not only because of their location along the former streetcar line, but because most of them are unaltered or minimally altered examples of the architectural style from the period, as described in the 2007 Uptown Historic Survey.
- Additions to the Residential Courtyard Multiple Property Listing*: While the City identified a number of properties in UH for inclusion in the Residential Courtyard Multiple Property Listing, they missed quite a few that should be included, as shown in the online map created by UH resident Kristin Harms.
- Creation of a Sidewalk Contractor Stamp Multiple Property Listing: There are over 450 historic sidewalk contractor stamps throughout University Heights which qualify as a Multiple Property Listing because of their “shared themes, trends and patterns of history.” These stamps may be the best remaining indicator of development patterns throughout UH, and are at significant risk for destruction because of deterioration and because of city public improvements. Many of these historic stamps have been documented by UH resident Bill Ellig in an online map.
- Streetcar Line Historic Preservation Policy: Both the Uptown and North Park Historic Preservation Elements describe the “tremendous impact” of the City’s expansive streetcar system on historic development in these areas. While the original streetcar line does not possess sufficient physical integrity to qualify for historic designation, City staff have indicated they will include a policy in the next draft of the Historic Preservation Element for both North Park and Uptown that the streetcar line should be commemorated and interpreted through markers, signage and educational materials such as apps or printed brochures.
While support for historic preservation from our community groups is important, City staff also need to hear from the community. If you value the historic community character of University Heights, please let the City know by October 5, 2015. Please click here to download a sample letter and submit your comments via email or postal service to:
Marlon I. Pangilinan
City of San Diego Planning Department
1222 First Avenune MS-413
San Diego, CA 92101
* A Multiple Property Listing (MPL) is a group of related significant properties with shared themes, trends and patterns of history. Such properties are typically grouped within a general geographic area, but not necessarily in a sufficient concentration to form a historic district. A MPL may be used to nominate and register thematically related historic properties simultaneously or to establish the registration requirements for properties that may be nominated individually or in groups in the future.