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Orange County Digest

Santa Ana : Judge Rescinds Order Barring Razing of Depot

December 08, 1985|Andy Rose

A Superior Court judge has ruled against a coalition of citizens groups trying to block demolition of the old Pacific Electric depot downtown that the city wants to clear away for a luxury condominium project.

Judge Judith Ryan ruled that her earlier restraining order preventing the city from tearing down the depot, built in 1927, would remain in effect until last Thursday.

She delayed lifting the order until then to give opponents of the action--including Heritage Orange County, a preservation group, and the Alliance for Fair Redevelopment--time to file an appeal before wrecking crews move in. Alliance attorney Salvador Sarmiento said he will file an appeal this week.

Earlier, the alliance sued the city and developer, Urban Ventures Inc., to block the 194-unit condominium project, which was approved by the City Council in July. Sarmiento said the group wants the city to conduct an environmental impact report on the project and also rewrite its general plan to include more low-income housing.

Heritage Orange County later joined the suit, arguing that the depot, which served as the terminal for the old Red Car rail lines until 1950, is of historical value and should be preserved.

Heritage President Hal Thomas said he received no notice of the July hearing from the city. However, Santa Ana City Atty. Edward Cooper said the group was mailed an agenda for the public hearing, at which several other groups showed up to testify in opposition.

Two weeks ago, city-hired crews moved in and began tearing down the building's roof and awning. Alliance and Heritage officials criticized the action, saying the city had violated a promise to leave the building untouched pending a hearing on the historical issue.

Ryan subsequently issued a restraining order at the groups' request. But Cooper said there was no binding agreement preventing demolition and no promise to give the preservationist groups 48 hours' notice of any work on the site.

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