Clerical Error Blamed for Demolition of LGBTQ Building - NBC 7 San Diego

Clerical Error Blamed for Demolition of LGBTQ Building



    Building Demolished Because of Clerical Error

    NBC 7's Steven Luke reports on the loss of an historic building in the LGBTQ community of San Diego. (Published Tuesday, June 2, 2015)

    A building considered historic by some in San Diego's gay civil rights movement was destroyed last week by mistake, city officials said Monday.

    Preservationists were in the process of trying to save a building at the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and Florida Street in University Heights.

    Inside the old white building on the corner, charter documents were first created for San Diego’s LGBTQ Center.

    The developer was granted the demolition permit Friday afternoon to tear it down. The city admits they granted the demolition permit by mistake.

    By the time everyone realized the error, it was already too late.

    Jaye MacAskill peaks through a fence at a huge pile of wood and debris.

    “This represents the very humble beginnings of what grew into a huge movement here in San Diego,” MacAskill said.

    As president of SOHO, Save Our Heritage Organization, MacAskill fights to preserve buildings of historical significance.

    The group was working to convince developer HG Fenton to incorporate the building into plans for a 165-unit mixed use apartment community.

    Almost everyone here welcomes the development with open arms, but the building on the corner remained a bit of a sticking point.

    "This was the only building identified as being potentially historic,” MacAskill said.

    An HG Fenton spokesperson says they received a valid demolition permit around 1:30 p.m. Friday.

    Less than three hours later neighbors snapped photos of a backhoe tearing the building down.

    There was just one problem - the permit process bypassed the city's historic resources staff, a process considered a safety net for those counting on more time to save the building.

    A department director told NBC 7 they're investigating the error.

    MacAskill feels wronged by the city and the developer

    "They knew the city was requiring them to go through an additional historical review,” she said. “How are they going to explain temporary amnesia on Friday afternoon when they decided it was time to get rolling."

    HG Fenton says they've spent months proposing a variety of ways to honor the LGBTQ community with their new development. The developer even offered to move the building to another location.

    But a compromise never happened and now the building is really history.

    On the bright side for neighbors in University Heights, the project, which was first approved 10 years ago is finally moving forward with a transformation coming to the blighted block filled with vacant buildings and boarded up windows.