Lawyers Working on Court Petition Against Demolition of Home

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The attorney representing the homeowners at 1470 Virginia Road said he believes it could be early next year before the start of the trial to decide whether they can tear down their home.
The party that filed the petition in Los Angeles Superior Court against the homeowners and the city has long argued the current home should be preserved as a historical link to San Marino’s architectural heritage. For now, each party is working to prepare an administrative record for court proceedings.
“The whole process can be anywhere from six to eight months,” said lawyer Richard McDonald, who is representing homeowners William and Madeline Chan.
San Marino Heritage, under the leadership of the preservation-minded Shirley Jagels, alleges the city improperly exempted the Chans from obtaining an environmental impact report, or EIR, under the guidelines of California Environmental Quality Act. In reaching a decision, the Planning Commission cited CEQA the provision exempting the need for an EIR for a single family residential home.
Citing the home’s lack of local, state or national designation as a historic resource, the Planning Commission also determined last June that the home clearly did not fall under the CEQA provision that historic structures must have an EIR prior to modification.
Since then, Jagels has long argued the current English Tudor home, designed and built in 1938 by noted San Marino architect Theodore Pletsch and previously owned by the family behind Stats Floral Supply in Pasadena, should be preserved and deemed historic, against the Chans’ wishes to replace the home.
“The community no longer will tolerate development-driven interests from decimating the beautiful city of San Marino,” Jagels said in a statement.
McDonald successfully argued to the City Council during Jagels’ appeal of the Planning Commission decision that the arguments for the home being historic were not strong enough. The City Council voted by a narrow 3-2 margin in January to deny Jagels’ appeal and allow the project.
“I’d hoped it would not [get to this point], but I’m not surprised,” McDonald said this week. “If they want to make their arguments again to the court, they’re free to do so, but we disagree.”
City Attorney Steven Flower and colleague Ginetta Giovinco are representing the city.
“We are fully confident in the validity of the council’s decision,” Flower said. “We will be mounting a vigorous defense of the city and expect it will be fully vindicated.”

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