City Council Acts to Block Destruction of Historic Sites

Times Staff Writer

The Glendale City Council this week adopted an emergency ordinance to protect one of the city's most historically significant homes and other historic sites.

Despite protests by one property owner and a developer, the council on Tuesday unanimously approved a 90-day moratorium prohibiting demolition, removal or development of any of the more than 30 sites deemed by the city's General Plan to be of historical significance.

The action blocks planned destruction of a 97-year-old home at 119 N. Cedar St., the last home in Queen Anne/Eastlake architecture on its original site in the city and the former home of Edgar D. Goode, one of the pioneers of Glendale's development. The Glendale Historical Society, which recommended that the house be preserved, noted that the residence "appears virtually unaltered" and "has preserved all of its delightful and characteristic decorative elements intact."

Marked for Demolition

Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg introduced the ordinance after members of the Historical Society last week said they had learned the house was marked for demolition to make way for an eight-unit apartment development.

The house is listed as worthy of preservation in the city's General Plan, adopted in 1977, and may be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. But the city has never implemented provisions to preserve such historic structures. One building the Historical Society considered valuable, the 70-year-old Egyptian Village Cafe, was torn down last year to make way for a downtown redevelopment project.

The Historical Society has long urged the city to initiate measures, including public acquisition, to protect such historically significant sites as the Teodoro Verdugo Adobe at 2211 Bonita Drive, a family home of the city's first settlers, and the Taylor House at 1027 Glenwood Ave., built in 1873 and believed to be the city's oldest remaining farmhouse.

Close of Escrow Near

Calvin Rodriquez of El Cajon, co-owner of the Goode house, confirmed the property is nearing the close of escrow for sale to a developer, whom he declined to name. He said the moratorium jeopardizes the sale, causing him significant economic losses.

Rodriquez, who said the historical residence has been owned by his family for 65 years, said the property had been for sale "for a long time." He asked why the city was taking action now to block the sale.

"If the city is so concerned, why hasn't it contacted us prior to this time?" he asked. He scolded city officials for expecting individuals to maintain and preserve historical buildings while providing no economic benefit in return.

Rodriquez said he learned of the moratorium "by chance" and chastised city officials for not notifying property owners of pending action.

Bremberg countered that the site had been deemed worthy of preservation years ago and the owners had made no attempt to notify the city that the property was for sale.

Private Rights Defended

Robert Garcin of Glendale, attorney for the buyer of the Goode house, warned council members that the city action may constitute an illegal taking of private property. He said the buyer already has expended considerable funds on plans for development of the site and an adjoining parcel. Garcin, in an interview, declined to say what amount the developer had agreed to pay for the Goode house.

Councilman Larry Zarian said he believes the Goode residence "ought to be preserved at any cost." However, he said, "It is even more important" that the city not infringe on private property rights, which he said "are sacred."

Zarian earlier proposed that the house be acquired and moved to a city-owned site in Brand Park as was the "Doctors' House." That relocation was made possible by city block grant funds, donations and volunteer workers. But such a move could jeopardize placement of the house on the National Registry, historical society members said.

In adopting a moratorium, the council also named Bremberg to an ad hoc committee to study and recommend a city ordinance preserving historically significant sites. Representatives of the historical society, business leaders, builders, real estate brokers, residents and city officials will serve on the committee. Bremberg said she expects the committee to recommend a preservation ordinance sooner than the 90 days alloted for action.

The council also ordered city officials to notify brokers and developers of the moratorium and proposed restrictions on development.

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