A Eucalyptus Cornuta tree at 1407 Hill Street was approved for landmark designation at last week’s Landmarks Commission meeting.Property owner Mary Effron had submitted a letter to the Commission in October 2005, asking that the tree be considered for designation. The tree is estimated to be more than 90 years old and its existence predates the surrounding neighborhood. The house now occupied by the Effrons was built under the tree in 1938.According to a City staff report, the City Forester has estimated the tree’s height to be between 50 and 60 feet and its two trunks to measure 45 inches and 49 inches in diameter. The tree is in healthy condition and has been carefully maintained.The Commission agreed with the staff report that the tree meets Landmarks Designation Criteria 2 (aesthetic or artistic interest or value, or other noteworthy interest or value) and 6 (an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood, community or the City). With the addition of language noting that the tree predates the development of the Sunset Park neighborhood to which it is a contributing feature, the Commission voted to designate the tree, with a set of conditions for regular maintenance that will be the responsibility of the property owner.The Commission also discussed a property slated for demolition at 2517 La Mesa Drive. While the Commissioners were divided in their assessment of the building’s features, their concern was sparked by the fact that it had been designed by noted architect John Byers. Commissioner Ruthann Lehrer noted: “It doesn’t warrant designation but as part of a body of John Byers’ work it has a beautiful site plan. One would wish that it might be documented before we lose that history.”A representative from Fisher and Associates, the firm planning to develop the site, said they would be more than willing to do the documentation. Commissioner Barbara Kaplan wanted to have the item continued in order to obtain more information about the modifications made to the building. When someone observed that the unique metalwork on the building’s façade was difficult to see from the street, Kaplan countered: “It seems to me that it’s a worthy property. There are many properties [like this] that you can’t see from the street.” Kaplan’s insistence paid off as the Commission voted 4-1, with 1 abstention, to seek more information on the property for next month’s meeting.The Commission saw a presentation by JTD Architects for the proposed schematic design for a 77- room hotel in the 1300 block of Ocean Avenue. The property includes two landmarked buildings, the Victorian-style Gussie Moran house and a Spanish Colonial building, both of which will be worked into the overall design of the hotel.The design scheme calls for the hotel to have a central public courtyard between the two vintage buildings, while the façade of the hotel will feature glass panels which will reflect the other buildings and the palm trees in the courtyard and across the street.The Commissioners commended JTD Architects for “sensitivity” to the landmarked buildings in their proposed design concept, although they voiced some concerns that the new building’s style should not overwhelm the vintage buildings.In other actions, the Commission approved a STOA (Statement of Official Action) for changes to window signs and entry doors at 2940 Main Street (the Parkhurst Building), and made some changes to the language of a previous designation for a building at 1143 11th Street, to clarify that the property’s major architectural significance was on its front façade.No action was taken on the following demolition permits: 1417 Yale Street; 714 14th Street; 2420 Cloverfield Blvd; 1829 11th Street; 1105-1105 18th Street; 1107-1107 18th Street; and 1138 6th Street.
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