Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Henry A. Darling House: A Historical Disclosure?

Both historical and history.
So here is the theory that is currently making the rounds. The city approved and apparently now architectural historian of record, a guy named Charles J. Fisher, had been in the Henry A. Darling house before. There was an important purpose for his having been there. The Brown family, who as you might recall were the previous owners of this property, brought Mr. Fisher in to look the place over and do the required historical assessment. They were concerned the place might actually have some kind of historical significance, and that could have an impact on their plans to demolish this 1907 home and replace it was something current.

Oh, and pay for it all by splitting the lot. But that is another story.

Fisher, after having carefully looked the place over, told them that yes, the Henry A. Darling house was a property having some historical significance. And since the Browns, who were apparently not interested in having to come up with the considerable wherewithal it would take to restore the place, changed their minds, abandoned their locally controversial strategy, and sold it. Which brings us to the current owners.

The Realtor who assisted in the purchase of this property was Reni Rose. This was true for both the Browns and the Kefalas families. And an important part of her legal responsibilities as a Realtor would have been to disclose the historical significance of the Henry A. Darling house to the Kefalas clan. After all, this was something that would have a considerable effect on how the property could, and most definitely could not, be used.

And, as we already know, the Brown's concern about this issue was no secret. They had already bailed out because of it.

It is important to note that Charles J. Fisher only wrote his report after having been commissioned to do so by Mr. and Mrs. Kefalas. The Browns, who had been given news they did not want to hear by this noted Pasadena architectural historian, never saw the need to hire him to write any reports. They'd already heard enough. This was only done after William Kefalas had been told by the Sierra Madre Planning Commission to do so. Something that may very well become tantamount to having to pay for the rope they will hang him with this coming Thursday evening.

So why did Kefalas for all intents and purposes destroy the Henry A. Darling property? Despite having been hopefully made aware of its historical - and therefore legal - significance by his helpful local Realtor, the intriguing Ms. Rose?

Despite his claims of innocence, I believe Kefalas must have known about this issue because another party had previously made an offer to buy the Darling home from the Brown family, and knew that architectural historian Charles Fisher had visited the home at their request. Because this guy was aware that the home would be found to be historically significant, he made a lower offer because ownership and restoration costs would be greater.

Taking all of that into account, my guess is Kefalas must have believed he could power through any such concerns by quickly destroying this historic house, thereby leaving the city with no other option but to allow him to finish the project as he saw fit. A legally dicey strategy perhaps, but one that has unfortunately worked for others in Sierra Madre. In other words, Kefalas thought he could get away with it. And as of this typing (11/28/16 - 11:43 PM), perhaps he has.

Which brings us to an even larger issue. A city that will not defend its laws and codes is not really a city at all. Rather it is merely an organized opportunity for wink and nod backroom deals with unscrupulous local players interested in just one thing, making easy money. You can write all the General Plans and fine preservationist ordinances you wish, but unless you back them up with significant consequences to those who would so badly abuse this community and its irreplaceable heritage for narrow personal gain, you have achieved absolutely nothing.

I cannot give you a link to the Charles J. Fisher report. It was forwarded to me by invisible hands and is not, to my knowledge, available on the Internet. But here is a portion of it. And do note the cameo appearance of The Tattler. I'd be lying if I told you I'm not pleased by the mention.


sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

62 comments:

  1. Planning commission do your jobNovember 29, 2016 at 6:37 AM

    Boycott the only place in town until this jerk rebuilds the house to look the same from the street as it did before he destroyed it and reinstalls all design elements or replaces them with like kind and quality.

    If you are sympathetic to him, watch the video of this guy at the last planning commission meeting where he plays the innocent victim. What a jerk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What you suggest is exactly what the owner planned. Tear it down, put up a new one, and all's well that ends well.

      Delete
    2. Kefalas was very arrogant. He thinks he can steamroll the Planning Commission. I don't think that Bob Spears or John Hutt or anyone except for Pesner will be steamrolled.

      Delete
    3. What are their options? $2,000 and stopping work is as punitive as they can get. Are they going to want to keep the house in that state for 2 years?
      The owner doesn't just think he can steamroll the commission - he did steamroll the commission.

      Delete
    4. This guy was willing to disregard the law and tear down a lovely home whose historical significance was amply chronicled on this blog and elsewhere. Because, after all, it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission when you know permission will be denied.

      And he is going to get away with it because the neighbors and others will not want to look at this pile of rubble for 2 years.

      The recommendation in the report above - rebuild to look as it did from the street and replacement of all materials - should be mandated after the imposition of a 2 year penalty, $2000 fine, and boycott of the family greasy spoon.

      Delete
    5. Kefalas can't get away with this or it sends a very bad message. If a city does not enforce its codes, then it might not as well even have them. I looked at the Staff Report and its Exhibit B which is the Historical Resources Report my Charles Fisher. What really stands out is paragraph 3 on page 21 which reads: "During the deconstruction, several significant parts of the house were inadvertently lost, including all or parts of historic windows, doors and interior features, such as the original wainscoting." My question is how do you "inadvertently" lose these things?

      Delete
    6. Kefalas may be arrogant and many other things but that is not the issue.
      He is very,very well connected with City Staff at all levels.He would have had many wink/nod encouragements to defy the law knowing that all he may get was a slap($2000) on the wrist.
      If you are a little homeowner with a small permit but no connections at City Hall (like me),they will make you follow the smallest and most irrelevant aspect of code and follow all their (unpublished) rules.They will make you re-apply for Permits,redo perfectly good work. I am O.K. with that. What I vehemently object to is their "friends & family" deals that break the law.
      Until we get a City Staff who are not corrupt, this will continue. I assure you that if Leticia was in charge ,this would not have happened !But there is a cesspool of long term corruption and incompetence at City Hall.Until we force a change there, nothing will improve.
      And this Darling House is just an issue we know about.There is plenty more to discover at City Hall.

      Delete
    7. interesting, because Kefales did everything but say the staff inspectors okayed his demolition beyond the roof and into the core of the structure resulting in the mess we now see. and it seems that staff is at the "go ahead and demo the rest of this mess" stage.

      Delete
    8. This should not hot have happened. Sometimes developers get too cozy with staff. Even now the Staff Report recommends approving the after the demolition has occurred demolition permit. Go figure.

      Delete
  2. Why is it up to the Planning Commission to enforce building codes and laws in Sierra Madre? Isn't that something that falls upon city staff?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the Staff Report, our city staff recommends that the Planning Commission simply approve the demolition permit for a home that has been legally demolished. What a disgrace.

      Delete
    2. The word is spineless. Because certain parties know that city hall is scared of its own shadow, things like the Henry A. Darling home desecration happen. And will continue to happen.

      Delete
    3. What Kefalas did so far should have raised all sorts of red flags for the city. Clearly you had someone who didn't care about the historical nature of the house and had a different agenda. They need to have someone supervise whatever needs to be done to monitor every step. Kefalas has lost all credibility.

      Delete
    4. where was the inspector? Elbow on the counter with cup of joe in hand shoting the sT&#t when he should've been doing his job?

      Delete
    5. The inspector was AWOL and of all projects to be AWOL on, it was the very house that was the reason for the demolition moratorium. The City Council needs to get involved because they tried to save the house and now its gone. We should not just be focused on solving the problem or punishing the owner. We also need to know how this was allowed to happen

      Delete
  3. Of course the Kefalas's knew about the historical significance of the home. The historian says in his report that he visited the house at the request of the Brown family who also wanted to demolish it. Evidently, once he told the Brown's that it was architecturally significant, they realized they couldn't tear it down and sold it to Kefalas. The real estate agent in all this, Reni Rose, had a legal obligation to disclose to all buyers that visit by the architectural historian and what he had told the Browns. So not only did Kefalas know about Charles Fishman's preliminary findings (if he was at all smart he would have called Fishman during his due diligence period when he could still get his deposit back and he probably did do that), he also knew as a resident of Sierra Madre himself, about the uproar that happened when the Browns had tried to demolish it. Kefalas must have known that the house he was buying was the catalyst for the emergency demolition ordinance and later permanent demolition ordinance. He must of known that our City Council voted unanimously to save the Darling house by passing the demolition ordinance. This was the very house that prompted all that and now drive by it and take a look. Is that what everyone tried to save?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kefalas must have known this. Reni Rose is too experienced a realtor not to have disclosed the prior visit and verbal conclusions by that historian Fisher. If she didn't, she's got a law suit on her hands.

      Delete
    2. Kefalas evidently knew and didn't care. He gave the City Council and the community the middle finger even though the attempt was made to save the house from the demolition attempt by the Brown family. The City Council must be very upset by someone who tried to get get around the rules in place.

      Delete
    3. Its a classic case of what did everybody know and when did they know it.

      Delete
  4. Kefalas thought he could just violate our rules and end up with a slap on the wrist. I will not eat at the Only Place in Town anymore. Why do I want to give him more money so that he can do this again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've already passed it by even though I used to eat there quite often. I've found that I ain't missing much. Sierra Madre has a lot of alternatives other than that greasy spoon.

      Delete
  5. Reni Rose is the key to this. What did she disclose to Kefalas when he bought the house? That information about the prior visit by the historian would be a material fact. Heck, you couldn't tear it down if it comes back as historically significant. It doesn't get any more material than that. She must have let Kefalas know about that prior visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe she can supply the disclosures and do the city and community a service. I'd like to see what she gave to buyers. The Sellers knew about the Fisher visit and she must have too since she was the realtor when the Brown purchased the property and when they sold it. She knew everything.

      Delete
    2. Reni is a long time realtor in town. She should tell everyone what she knows and more importantly what William and Anastasia Kefalas knew.

      Delete
    3. It is her reputation that is on the line. She either told this guy or not. And if she didn't she will need to be held accountable.

      Delete
    4. If Reni Rose or the Browns didn't tell the Buyers then they hid a very important material fact. Because of the background with the house and the uproar that ensued when they tried to demolish it, I would bet that they all disclosed to Kefalas that a city-approved architectural historian visited the property and told them that the home was going to be historically significant. You can bet its in the disclosures. What I wouldn't give to get a hold of those disclosures. If Kefalas knew this, then it explains why he worked so fast to destroy any visible signs of the home's architectural significance. He figures how could you do an historical resources report when the home had been taken down to the studs.

      Delete
  6. The Tattler is on to something here. I'd like to see those disclosures to the buyer from the Seller and their agent.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sounds to me like the report says it's a fine example of an old pre craftsman dump?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A nearly one million dollar dump. I believe that is what Kefalas paid for the place.

      Delete
  8. Nice read, the library will add to the various histories of the town.
    Good to know that both the new owner of the home and some bloggers will enjoy standing in front of the re constructed Darling home and share a cup of The Only Place in Town's, coffee.
    Always good to have as much clear information as possible. Glad that this section of the WELL written codes and ordinances will receive an update at the same time as this home.
    It would be great to see residents return to Council Chambers and stay informed with both Planning updates and City decisions.
    Aside from the Darling house, with its place in history in the town.
    What will become of that "fake" $10,000.00 gifted Christmas Tree after the holidays? Presently being displayed in the NOT SO HISTORICAL triangle area in the center if town.
    Are the plans by this City Council, still to use the ARTS FUND monies, and demolish and rebuild as a large patio for the Star Bucks crowd? Very sad that this town could care less about supporting Art in Public Places. Hypocrisy at its best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought it was a year round holiday tree. Am I wrong?

      Delete
    2. Always a holiday in Sierra Madre. I am searching for those Invasion of the Body Snatcher all year round holiday tree ornaments, can I find them at Frontier Hardware? Maybe a local artist has a holiday web site were I may purchase them? I' ll check at City Hall.

      Delete
  9. Just to sidetrack for a moment:

    Ten inches of snow has fallen on the Standing Rock Sioux pipeline protest. I sent money via GreenPeace and collected winter clothing, tents and sleeping bags and took them to GreenPeace last month. More is needed!

    I found the following on-line for additional donating. Money is needed for all necessities. I am sending a check rather than PayPal at this time:

    Official Standing Rock Sioux Tribe DAPL Donation Fund through PayPal.
    We thank you for your support!
    Donations can be mailed to

    Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
    Attention: Donations
    PO Box D
    Building #1
    North Standing Rock Avenue
    Fort Yates, ND 58538

    Please make checks payable to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe - Donations
    Donations will be used for legal, sanitary and emergency purposes!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Is it me or is it just hard to find the list of planning commissioner on one list. City site has you look up the names on a list then you search that name and then email individually, is that right or where is just the list of emails to them.
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's just you. Look at the agenda report reproduced with yesterday's Tattler post. Upper right hand corner.

      Delete
    2. Send your emails to Leticia Cardoso at the Community Preservation Department and she will forward them to the Planning Commission. Her email address is LCardoso@cityofsierramadre.com While you're at it, CC the City Council. They should know what happened and how people feel about it. The City Council should be outraged. They know better than anybody about the uproar that ensured when the house was being proposed for demolition. They stepped in to save it and did by passing the demolition moratorium.

      Delete
    3. The PC needs to have an ordinance to protect the inside of a potentially historic house. Did the new owners sell the material they gutted from the inside or did they keep it or just throw it away. If they sold it, they should have to buy it back. The owner had to know what he was about and should be penalized to the full extent of the law. The realtor, Rose as well as the other realtor should have charges brought against them and be made to answer for their actions. Did they tell the new owner? Certainly there must be a realtors board that takes complaints. Lastly, the law has teeth or it doesn't. There is no problem with the PC, all but one, and we know who that is, is against this man. The CC needs to back them! I feel no pity for the owner. His restaurant needs to be boycotted.

      Delete
  11. I like that all homes in town will eventually have their histories documented in archives.
    This was an eye opener.

    ReplyDelete
  12. In thethe Canyon, there is a bridge over the wash where a marker reads: At this site; Nothing Historical Happened. Sierra Madreans have a good sense of humor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, but the sign has been designated as a "Sierra Madre Humor Zone" and cannot be removed.

      Delete
  13. It is hard to believe that Sierra Madre's beefed up building codes and ordinances are backed up by such pipsqueak consequences. How on Earth did that happen?

    ReplyDelete
  14. 8:16, not sure I agree with all that is going on there. Is that a "not in my back yard" situation or are the Sioux truly being violated?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it is a "not in my back yard" situation, would that make the claims of the Sioux wrong?

      Delete
    2. From what I understand the usual big oil interests want to run an oil pipeline through land the Sioux have long believed to be sacred. Interesting corollary. One of the largest shareholders in this pipeline is Donald Trump. So you just know the "Information Wars" crazies are going to be losing it.

      Delete
  15. Is the land Federal or designated "Reservation". Sierra Madre had its Water violated, the citizens will suffer consequences for years to come
    What proven guarantees or contracts have been given from both sides, as to future infrastructure failures?

    ReplyDelete
  16. The inside or the contents of a house do not fall into the jurisdiction of the Planning Commission. In the 60's, the Commission had to listen to their neighbors arguments about choice of color palette for the neighborhoods.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The all year round fake holiday tree does have blue lights on for Hanuka and giant red and white lollipops near by. Havn't spotted the prayer rug but the Manager scene is back in place, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Regarding Standing Rock Sioux...Thinking globally while you act locally will also give you a change to act globally. The authorities are firing on the Souix water protector protestors with water cannons like those shot onto the civil rights marchers in the 1960s. The difference is that the temperatures in South Dakota are freezing. You may not have had much contact with South Africa but investments in companies and businesses were protested by university students to get the universities to divest their interests helped put pressure to end appartheid.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This knucklehead knew that nothing would happen to him if he just went ahead with his demolition. After all, Salesian got to build an entire house in his backyard without permits and got to keep it. Neither guy suffered any consequences because they "did not know" they were violating any laws. Ignorance is no excuse. It is open season on do whatever you want in Sierra Madre.

    ReplyDelete
  20. The perfect storm ... City Hall with so many leaving ... a local business owner with a lot of perks and "ins" ... a real estate agent who figured out how to bypass everything .. and neighbors who don't want to look at a mess everyday.

    They all came out winners...


    So incredibly sad.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ignorance is nine tenths of the law. With the water moratorium in place, good time to continue tweeking the codes and ordinances.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ignorance is no excuse. Especially when buying a million dollar house.

      Delete
  22. 8:33, no problem finding the names, I want the emails without having to look up each name then go down the list to find them to send an email. Should be able to find the list of Commissioners with an email after the name. It has to be on the Cities Web Page but I can't find it, please show me.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Congressman Dr. Price named to President Trump's cabnet as HHS Secretary.
    Health savings account, patients first, tax deductible and tax credits so an individual may "shop" around for Health Care. Learn from Obama Care, fix and toss out sections. Get government out of Health Care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. The red herring is Obamacare. The real target is Medicare. The war on America's seniors has now begun.

      Delete
    2. Insurance companies get to drop high cost patients, can refuse those with pre-existing conditions and can charge whatever they want. Glad we got government out of healthcare. What could possibly go wrong? All is fine as long as you're not poor, sick, female or a senior.

      Delete
  24. Insurance Companies are dropping out of Obama Care now. Medicare has needed an overhull for years. No one will be refused and parts of Obama Care will be kept and re worked. So put away your Crystal Ball.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you from Info Wars?

      Delete
    2. I no longer believe anything I hear from 3:13's quarter.

      Delete
  25. Anyone have a list of the planning commission emails ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. first initiallastname@cityofsierramadre.com

      Delete
  26. I am sure the City has E-mail info, or they should. Check the last portion of the recent Planning Commission meeting. I think the new Director was asked to make those addresses available or to make sure they were forwarded to them.

    ReplyDelete