By LU REHLING
Another opportunity is dawning for the creation of a Park Boulevard Residential Historic District. The San Diego Planning Department’s proposal stalled in 2018; however, city staff now plan to complete the required designation steps this year.
The proposal for this district, the core of which is known as Apartment Row, is distinctive because it recognizes the neighborhood’s role as a central corridor that showcases the city’s development. Rather than being an enclave of single-family homes mostly similar in age and style, larger multi-family dwellings make up most of the district mix, which includes more than 100 properties. About three-quarters of the properties, built between 1908 and 1961, would be contributing resources eligible for preservation and tax relief. Collectively, these buildings present a visual timeline recording the transformation of this popular and welcoming passageway to Balboa Park and Downtown.
Today, the neighborhood offers a model for how smart urban density near public transit can transcend the purely utilitarian by also offering architectural interest, appeal for visitors, a place for special events (such as charity runs), and a sense of community.
Unfortunately, larger historic importance and the presence of multiple buildings by master architects notwithstanding, designation of this proposed district has faced difficulties. While lack of support by St. Spyridon Church is unfortunate, its properties in the district could be exempted. A bigger problem two years ago surfaced when most district property owners did not respond to the city’s survey of interest. As in the Gaslamp (another historic district with citywide and tourist impacts), district owners are mostly non-resident landlords. As a result, the kind of grassroots efforts by owners that have propelled many other historic district proposals are not likely for this one. Recognizing that, this year the city plans to extend its outreach to residents as well as owners.
We can thank the city for not giving up on establishing this historic district, one that is consistent with approved community plans and the sole such proposal in the pipeline for Uptown. As a district homeowner and resident, I encourage my neighbors and other interested San Diego groups and individuals to support the city’s outreach by emailing Senior Planner Kelley Stanco at firstname.lastname@example.org and by getting the word out at meetings of Uptown Planners and of the North Park Planning Committee, which already has voted support for the district. Success is possible in 2020!
— Reprinted with permission from Our Heritage eNews, Save Our Heritage Organisation.