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Historic Designations

P.O. Box 15967
San Diego, CA 92175
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Coronado Railroad (Beltline)

Historical Landmark No. 640
Coronado Railroad (Beltline)

Historical Landmark No. 640 - Designated September 2005

In December 2003, Legacy 106, Inc. prepared this Rebuttal for SOHO arguing that the Railroad was Historic. August 3, 2005 - This finding was upheld by the court.

Coronado Railroad - City Council Upholds Historical Resources Board's Decision that the Railroad is Historic after Court Ruled the designation was unlawfully set aside by City Council in an earlier Appeal Hearing.

Designated Historical Landmark No. 640 on December 19, 2003

Designation Overturned by the San Diego City Council on September 7, 2004, (See Save Our Heritage Organisation PRESS RELEASE)

September 13, 2005 San Diego City Council Votes to Uphold Historical Resources Board's Ruling that the Railroad is an Historical Landmark.

Save Our Heritage Organisation
SOHO Executive Director Bruce Coons: 619-297-9327
SOHO Attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley: 707-938-3908

San Diego, August 3, 2005 The San Diego Historical Resources Board has declared, after careful review, that the portion of the Coronado Belt Line railway located in San Diego is an historic site. At the request of the MTDB and Councilmember Ralph Inzunza, the City Council overturned the Board’s designation in 2004, against the recommendations of City staff and the City manager, and with Councilmember Donna Frye as the sole dissenting vote. Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) sued the City because, as City staff pointed out, there was no legal basis to overturn the historic status. (San Diego Superior Court Case GIC837743.) On July 15th, San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Prager ruled in favor of SOHO, agreeing that the City acted unlawfully and granting a peremptory writ requiring the City to set aside its action. (See ruling at www.sandiego.courts.ca.gov.)

The Coronado Belt Line looped around the San Diego coastline and up the Silver Strand to Coronado as part of the Spreckels railroad empire, contributing to San Diego’s growth and vitality as it linked the City with the harbor and South Bay communities. From 1888 until the mid-20th century, the Belt Line regularly transported residents, visitors, World War I and II military shipments, agricultural products, building materials, and commercial and industrial wares through the region.

SOHO Executive Director Bruce Coons stated, “This is an important precedent proving that the City Council cannot arbitrarily overturn historic designations just because they want to approve some ill-advised development scheme. They must have a valid legal basis to do so.”

This is the second lawsuit that SOHO has won regarding the Belt Line’s historic merit. Last year, Superior Court Judge Linda B. Quinn agreed with SOHO in a suit brought under the California Environmental Quality Act against the Port District, ruling that the Belt Line “has historical significance” as an “historic, cultural, and aesthetic resource.” Judge Quinn ordered the Port to prepare an Environmental Impact Report to examine potentially significant impacts on “land use, recreation, historical, cultural, aesthetic resources, and transportation” before approving a 66-year lease of the Coronado Belt Line, subject to approval of MTDB. (San Diego Superior Court Case GIC806225.)

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Since 1969, Save Our Heritage Organisation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has led the community as a powerful catalyst for preservation by raising awareness and appreciation of our region's architectural and cultural heritage.

For additional background on this issue, see:


Coronado Branch Under Attack! a letter by Ed Kravitz in the Imperial Beach Eagle & Times, Thursday, November 25, 2004

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Archaeology & Historic Preservation
Historic House Research • Mills Act Designation