Historic homes set to be demolished in Hillcrest - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Historic homes set to be demolished in Hillcrest

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HILLCREST (CBS 8) - Anger is growing in Hillcrest near Park Boulevard and Robinson Avenue, where two historic homes are set to be demolished.

The St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church owns two historic homes, but according to neighbors, the church plans to tear them down to make way for a parking lot.

Jimmy Sullivan is an architect who has called the neighborhood where the two houses stand, home.

"I think Hillcrest is a vibrant neighborhood. Every time one of these homes is lost, it's just chipping away at the character of the neighborhood," said Sullivan.

The City of San Diego confirmed the property owner has applied for demolition permits, but it said it remains unclear what it plans to do with the property.

"We are already in a housing crisis in this state. Governor Brown has declared that it does not make sense someone is allowed to go in and demolish perfectly good housing," said Sullivan.

A city spokesperson also confirmed the city attorney granted the owner religious exemption status - which gives them the right to demolish non-commercial property that they no longer want or is too expensive to maintain.

"If it had not been a church involved, I doubt very seriously that the removal of these houses would have been allowed. It's a bit-by-bit process if you let things like this happen. These houses in my opinion are gems," said area resident, Don Skolnick.

The city said though demolition permits have been applied for, but they have not been granted. At this point, a demolition date has not been set.

The special exemption law for religious groups passed in 1994. Preservation groups brought suit, but it was upheld by the California Supreme Court in 2000.

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