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New California Theatre Legal Defense Fund
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1950s. Photo courtesy San Diego History Center

The California Theatre, one of San Diego's most storied downtown historic landmarks, was unanimously approved for complete demolition by the city council on April 4. In response to this flawed and misguided approval, SOHO filed a legal challenge in the San Diego County Superior Court on May 22.
SOHO is challenging this approval because there are multiple feasible alternatives to the total destruction of this iconic 1927 building and its historic Agua Caliente racetrack mural. The council voted to obliterate this significant part of our downtown cultural heritage knowing that potential buyers have expressed interest in rehabilitating the building for adaptive reuse.
SOHO's petition (read HERE) asserts that the council's approval of this project is in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) fails to consider alternatives consistent with the city's adopted Downtown Community Plan and policies. All of the alternatives studied involve full or partial demolition!

In addition,
  • The EIR does not consider the developer's intent to pursue demolition (through years of neglect).
  • The evidence does not support the EIR's certification based on the infeasibility of alternatives to demolition nor the statement of overriding considerations.
  • An EIR may not be approved for a project with significant environmental impacts if there are project mitigations or alternatives that avoid or lessen such impacts.
  • The EIR was not re-circulated so citizens and officials could consider new information and changed circumstances, such as the multiple purchase offers.
Please support SOHO's California Theatre Legal Defense Fund and show city officials that the history, character, and ambiance of the California Theatre will not become another lost major resource. Let them know developers who neglect their historic buildings must not be rewarded with building permits. We hope you will contribute as generously as you can.
Please donate to protect and save the California Theatre now! Thank you!