La Jolla group says Mayor Bob Filner had no ulterior motive in delaying home project

Group refutes couple's claims about home

SAN DIEGO - The La Jolla Historical Society and a neighbor to a disputed home told Team 10 they want the home to be designated as historic, and Mayor Bob Filner helped them delay a remodeling project with no ulterior motive.

Donna Blackmond and members of the La Jolla Historical Society are trying to get a La Jolla cottage on her street designated as historic.

"It is one of the last remaining examples of a Tudor revival-style cottage in La Jolla," said Blackmond. "There used to be hundreds of them and now there is just a few left."

Her neighbors, Karen and Jack Visin, bought the home in 2009 with plans to remodel the duplex.

The Visins' attorney submitted plans saying the place was not historic and the report was accepted by the Historical Resources Board staff.

Two-and-a-half years later, the Visins said the Filner's former deputy chief of staff, Allen Jones, asked for the matter to be continued by the Planning Commission.

"It's not often that we appear in front of you to make a request like this, in fact, I think this is the first time," said Jones at the meeting.

The move left the Visins feeling like the mayor was abusing his power. Blackmond, however, said there was no hidden agenda.

"I couldn't see anything inappropriate with people in the community raising an issue and the mayor tending to it," Blackmond said.

She said she and members of the La Jolla Historical Society met with Filner during a weekend "Coffee with the Mayor" event, where he meets with community members.

"We had about five minutes each," Blackmond said. "We just presented the issues we thought with this case and that the historicity of this cottage was not fully vetted the way it's supposed to go."

Filner had a meeting two weeks later with the same group, and Blackmond said they wanted the Historical Resources Board -- not board staff -- to decide on the issue, and she said Filner agreed.

Blackmond said the cottage has historical significance in the community.

"The really important bombshell that we found that is the name 'Wind and Sea' actually came from the family that built this cottage," said Blackmond.

The Visins believe Blackmond is only concerned about the project blocking the view at her nearby home if they remodel. Team 10 has an email where the concerns of Blackmond's view and privacy are raised.

"It's not about anyone's view or viewpoint," Blackmond said. "It's about determining whether these cottages have historic value in our community."

Blackmond and the La Jolla Historical Society told Team 10 they've never donated to the mayor's campaign.

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