MANHATTAN BEACH — It's a rather nondescript house. Small and red, it was built near the turn of the century as a summer cottage overlooking Manhattan Beach.
Nearly everybody in the city seems to want it saved. They just don't want it in their neighborhood.
The house received a two-week stay of execution this week when the City Council unanimously voted to give Julia Tedesco, president of the Manhattan Beach Historical Society, the time she sought to find the house a home. The city's Parks and Recreation Commission had recommended razing the house immediately.
During its first 80-plus years, the house had been at 205 15th St. The council, at the society's urging, agreed in November to spend up to $20,000 to move it off the site, where an apartment project was going up. The owner donated the structure to the city.
But $10,500 and three months later, the house sits on skids on the former Santa Fe Railroad right-of-way, and council members said that if Tedesco does not find a site before the next council meeting on March 17, they will approve its demolition.
'Talked and Talked'
"I've talked and talked until I'm blue in the face to all of these people who think that saving the house is great, until they find out we want to put it in their neighborhood," Tedesco said in an interview. "People have the misconception that tens of millions of visitors are going to come to this thing. They're not."
Tedesco sees the house as part of Manhattan Beach's heritage and envisions it as a children's museum to show that "it wasn't mansions, but two-bedroom beach cottages that were this town's beginnings."
Several site proposals have been submitted, only to be rejected after residents complained.
Joslyn Park, which for a time appeared to be the likely choice, was rejected after the Boy Scouts complained that the house would stand in front of their meeting hall.
Keeping the house on the right-of-way was ruled out after residents said it would bring too many people into the area.
The latest proposal was to place it on a slope overlooking the ocean in Culiacan Park, but homeowners at the top of the bluff have complained that it would block their views.
'Out on a Limb'
Tedesco admits she "went out on a limb" this week by promising to find a place for the house. But she said she has talked to Manhattan Beach School District officials, who she believes may allow the city to put the house on school property. She said Pollywog Park, which the school district leases to the city, is now the most likely site.
A spokeswoman for the school district said Tedesco was asked to submit a written proposal.
Councilman Larry Dougharty said he opposes the Pollywog Park option because "it's too remote, which takes it out of any practical use."
Dougharty, who voted against moving the house originally because "the plans were not well thought out," said he is not against saving it, but does not think Tedesco can find a site that will not meet resistance.
Michele Memmott, president of the parks commission and a member of the Historical Society, originally suggested that the city save the house. She said the council is going to have to "take a stand and put the house somewhere."
"They're going to have to find the best site and live with the gripes," Memmott said. "I think there is a value in saving this house. I feel that it is a very representative piece of architecture and I would like my children and their children to be able to see it."
Dougharty said that if the house is destroyed it will be a waste of the money already spent.
"It was definitely a gamble that there would be enough public enthusiasm," Dougharty said. "But so far it's a gamble that has not paid off."