ESCONDIDO – The Escondido City Council voted on Oct. 21 to move forward with the demolition of the historic Paxton adobe house, most recently known as Hacienda de Vega restaurant, in order to develop a 42-unit condominium at the site.
The 74-year-old adobe building at 2608 S. Escondido Blvd. began as a model home and office for the nearby Longview Acres subdivision of 25 adobes before serving as the home of several different popular Mexican restaurants over the years, the most recent one closing in 2017.
The building is also known for its signature adobe-style architecture and its association with significant people, such as Charles Paxton. After serving as a model home, the property became a nursery operated by landscape architect Gene Peregov. Later, in 1962, it was converted into a restaurant owned by Patrick Brillo Osorio and later, the Cueva family.
At the meeting, the council unanimously voted to allow Kitchell Development Co. to build 42 condos on a 1.75-acre site that includes the 1946 adobe structure despite a number of public comments objecting to the motion.
Back in July, the Escondido Historic Preservation Commission reviewed the proposal and voted 2-2 to save the building (one commissioner was recused and two others were not present), nonetheless, a tie vote is an effective denial of the motion.
The proposal then went to the city’s Planning Commission, which approved the demolition permit in September.
Bruce Coons, executive director of Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO), said in a public comment that they want the matter sent back to the Historic Preservation Commission for a second vote as well as a full environmental impact report, noting the potential for a legal challenge by SOHO if the council fails to do so.
“SOHO continues to find the Paxton adobe a unique and significant resource, which is intact and eligible for the California Register of Historical Resources,” Coons said. “This staff report does not appear to understand the contextual significance of the specific resource with regards to its various periods of significance, evolutions of use and associations with significant people to Escondido’s history.”
Councilmembers at the meeting expressed their sadness at having to demolish the historic building but agreed that it would be necessary to get closer to meeting the city’s housing needs.
“I sometimes feel that we’re saying goodbye to an old friend, and I think we all have some great memories of that place, but the time has come,” Mayor Paul McNamara said. “It has been modified throughout its history, there’s no plan B to preserve it, and we have a very strong need for housing. I will be supporting it, but it will be with a heavy heart because of what it represents.”