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South Bay Digest

Redondo Beach : Demolition Plans Stand

July 10, 1986

The City Council declined this week to intervene in a dispute over a home on North Gertruda Avenue that is headed for demolition, possibly eliminating the final obstacle to the home's destruction.

The house, at 302 N. Gertruda, is at the edge of a block of 75-year-old homes that residents want to place on the National Register of Historic Places. Two weeks ago, about two dozen neighbors asked the council to place a freeze on demolition on the block pending the completion of a historical survey of the homes.

But the owner of the two-bedroom cottage, Hester Riley, a 76-year-old widow who says she needs to sell the property to pay her bills, agreed to sell to two partners who want to tear it down and build a modern two-story home. Escrow on the sale is expected to close next week.

John Woods, a Hawthorne carpenter and one of the buyers, said the home, built sometime between 1908 and 1920, is beyond restoration. However, neighbors who formed Citizens for the Preservation of Historical Houses said the cottage is one of the oldest homes in the city. Tearing it down, they said, could jeopardize the block's chances of being accepted for the national register.

At the council meeting Tuesday night, neighbors did not press the council for the freeze, explaining after the meeting that they will try to work with Woods to preserve the home. If those efforts fail, they said, they will attempt to block demolition by opposing the issuing of a permit by the city.

But John Held, director of building for the city, said a demolition permit cannot be appealed by neighbors. If Woods has met all city requirements, he can raze the house one day after applying for the permit, he said.

The council, apparently impressed by the group's determination to preserve the neighborhood, voted to direct staff to study the idea of creating a historic preservation commission that would look into such requests in the future.

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