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Family that lost home in West Fire buys house from City of San Diego for $1

Posted at 5:30 PM, Aug 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-03 11:16:08-04

ALPINE, Calif. (KGTV) — Kevin Coleman feels a range of emotions when he steps foot onto the land in Alpine he used to call home.

He and his wife Monica lost two houses on the property during the July 2018 West Fire.

"Disappointing, heartache, anxiety, stress, how do you rebuild?" he says.

The 22-acre parcel in Alpine has the remnants of the two houses, while a third home on the property is rented out. Meanwhile, the Colemans are living with other family.

"We've exhausted the little bit of insurance money that we got to do the debris removal, the cleanup," Kevin says. "We had to take care of trees and all the damage on the property."

About 60 homes burned in the West Fire, a number of them still not rebuilt. Looking for any solution, Monica began calling contractors she'd worked with in the past.

She found her answer sitting in a San Diego storage yard near Oak Park. That's where the city had been storing a historic home since a 2014 legal settlement with The Academy of Our Lady of Peace.

As part of the settlement, the city was forced to remove two historic homes from Normal Heights to make way for the school to expand.

It had one remaining in the yard, and agreed to sell it to the Colemans for $1. Monica mailed the city a signed contract with a $1 bill Thursday. The only catch: The family must keep the home's historic character.

"I was very shocked, and bawled my eyes out when they said, we're going to sell you this house for a dollar," Monica said.

The next steps, however, are costly. Kevin says a contractor quoted the family $32,000 to move the home to their land in Alpine. It will also cost about $90,000 in labor to make the home habitable.

A City of San Diego spokesman says no other homes are available.