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Council Strife Rises to Surface Over Historic Home Debate

Councilwoman Barbara Denny sparks a spat with her colleagues during discussion of an historic district ordinance.

Councilwoman Barbara Denny was in yet another dustup with her colleagues Tuesday. Last time it was over her refusal to support the city budget. This time it came during a discussion of a proposed historic district ordinance.

Mayor Casey Tanaka suggested requiring a greater degree of support from neighbors before a block or blocks could be designated as historic, instead of the 51 percent city staff had recommended. 

After deriding his idea, Denny attempted to take credit for his conversion to the cause of historic preservation, saying “I’m pleased that you are joining my side.” 

At that point Councilman Mike Woiwode told her to “stop insulting the mayor. It has no place here.”

When Councilwoman Carrie Downey and Councilman Al Ovrom entered the fray, she took them all on.

“I wish you would show me and the public the same respect you show each other,” Denny complained.

At that point Woiwode and Downey walked out and Tanaka called for a recess.

When they reassembled, Denny was remorseful. She told Tanaka: “I want to apologize. I didn’t mean any offense to you or Mr. Woiwode. Please accept my sincere and heartfelt apology.”

She also apologized to Downey and Ovrom “if I offending them, even though it was said in a civil manner.“

Despite Denny's claim, Tanaka has long championed historic preservation, said Rita Sarich and Doug St. Denis, who were at the meeting and are ardent preservationists.

Sarich is the executive-director of MainStreet and St. Denis recently served as vice-chair of the Historic Resources Commission.

Before joining the City Council, Tanaka served as the commission's chair; he currently is the council's representative to the board of the Coronado Historical Association.

Downey pointed out that Tanaka had tempered her strong commitment to property owner rights.  

Still she and Ovrom opposed the ordinance, which would allow a block where 51 percent of the homes were historic to declare itself a historic district if 60 percent of the homeowners agreed.

The historic commission and the council also would have to approve.

“I left a planned community because I was tired of people of telling me what I could do with my property,” Downey said. “This smells like that.”

The ordinance passed 3-2, with Tanaka, Denny and Woiwode voting in favor. Under its terms, non-historic houses in historic districts would be subject to the same rules as historic homes, whether homeowners supported the designation or not.

The mayor argued that as its stands now, one person can alter a neighborhood's character if he decided to build a McMansion or a row of cottages.

“Wouldn’t be nice to give a block or several blocks a tool that could make an entire neighborhood charming?” Tanaka asked.  

Jerry Toci July 18, 2012 at 10:07 PM
For reasons which can only be related to author Gloria Tierney's own distorted political agenda, she has again twisted the facts and mischaracterized Barbara Denny's congenial comment in support of the mayor. Barbara clearly was intending to compliment the mayor. It is unfortunate that councilmembers Woiwode and Downey took this as an opportunity to childishly stomp out of the council chambers, interrupting Barbara's right to speak on a matter of importance to Coronado homeowners. Barbara Denny should have received apologies from her colleagues, but instead it was she who graciously and sincerely apologized to them for her highly-misinterpreted and innocent statement.
Publius July 18, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Ms Tierney, you're letting your pro-Tanaka bias show again...Ms Denny has been the leader on council in preserving Coronado's character...Mr Tanaka voted against Prop J, wanted the moneypit Tunnel and consistently favors big business over little business or taxpayers...he likes to cut people off, too....the crowd was clearly behind Denny all meeting...yet you get quotes from Tanaka supporters/appointees...how about some "fair and balanced" coverage?
john sexton July 19, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Freud was right…”things are multi-determined”. More recent experts in psychology note ‘an emotion can only be caused by a thought…inaccurate thoughts create harmful emotions’. Strong negative emotions were obvious in our city leaders following Barbara Denny’s statement "I'm pleased that you are joining my side”. One can only wonder what the underlying thoughts were about Barbara Denny’s relatively benign statement.
Captain Coronado July 19, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Once again Gloria Tierney is writing an article to make Barbara Denny look bad and Tanaka look good, when in fact the opposite is what really took place. If you don't believe me, go to the City of Coronado website and view the Council meeting for yourself and you will realize how inaccurate Tierney's article is. For some reason, the Patch seems hell bent on distorting almost everything that the City of Coronado does to make certain people look good while trying to make others look bad, for reason unknow to everyone but whomever is pulling the string for this rag. The treatment that Barbara Denny receives from the current council is both unprofessional and despicable!!! I for one, will stop reading what is written on this website because it is so inaccurate and I suggest the rest of you who look to get your news from here, do the same. You might want to try Coronado Common Sense or ECoronado.
KC July 19, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I've been to a number council meetings, many during which Ms. Denny has acted in the way that Ms. Tierney describes. While I was not in attendance at this particular meeting, I must say that I am not surprised by the article. It brings to mind an old saying about a squeaky wheel... While of course everyone is at liberty to support her and defend her, one might wonder why it always seems like it's everyone else vs. Ms. Denny at the meetings. Maybe the exasperation of the Mayor and other council members is warranted.
El Cordova Garage July 19, 2012 at 06:48 PM
KC, Barbara Denny is one of the few in our local politics that has not been corrupted, that being said, perhaps that it why it seems it is her "against" the majority. She truly stands for keeping things local and is the most real. Watch the video.
El Cordova Garage July 19, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Thank you, Jerry, this needs to be said.
Observer July 19, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Why is anyone shocked at ongoing abusive behavior toward Council Member Denny? She brings it on herself, after all. For instance, without her constant meddling we would still have one of our favorite and most lucrative boondoggles in recent Coronado history: the Tunnel Project, with all of it's collateral implications. It's no surprise that her particularly annoying uniqueness (being beholden to no special interest group) and her laughable commitment to "do what's right" for the citizens of Coronado makes her a lightning rod for jolts from us malfeasant few and our puppets. Not to mention her audacity in standing up to us when we attempt to bully the council from the dais or citizens on the streets of Coronado in our easily rationalized quest to ride roughshod over the rules when it's in our interest to do so. Just imagine, if you will, the unmitigated disaster to our special interests if this disgustingly nonpolitical woman can somehow clone herself in the upcoming elections! So, we must continue and even escalate our stealth campaign to demean and discredit Council Member Denny regardless of how petty and self serving it makes us appear on those rare occasions when we find ourselves caught out in the sunlight. Occasional exposure is a small price to pay for success, whereas the cost of failure in this campaign would be enormous to our special interests!
KC July 19, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Corrupted in what way?
Jerry Toci July 19, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Casey troll GO AWAY !
Jerry Toci July 19, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Attention KC: Casey troll GO AWAY !
ConservativesDefeated July 20, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Folks, what should be apparent is that Ms.Denny alone among the Councill members seems to be able to consider issues on their merits without regard to the ever present push pull from developers and their Council minions to continue to increase density in order to pay the interest payments ariding from the bond debt incurred by the Redevelopment Agency in the building of the schools, City Hall, the Library etc.. Downeys asinine comments about the "state requirement" for new housing, vis a vis the discussion of historic districts is a case in point.. During the Proposiiton J fight a former resident, Story Vogel , and others sought ot change the zoning map to stop the tearing down of single family homes and their replacement with "Billy Boxes", Phil Monroe similarly mischaracterized the states interest in insuring housing supply to oppose Proposiition J..of course the real bottom line for both Downey's comments and Monroe's is to keep the City coffers filled with rising property taxes through more houses to pay property taxes. Both of them ate wrong on the law and the facts. That's should be where people are focused.not on Woiwode and Downeys churlish behavior.
Jennifer Vigil July 20, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Jerry, I welcome you and KC both; everyone has as much right to express an opinion and share in the exchange as anyone else. This is an open forum.
Ideas for discussion not people August 16, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Was just reading the article and the hostile comments. If you believe you are so right defending, Ms. Denny, you don't need to be hostile, rude nor aggressive. If you believe what she states and claims have merit, then let merit speak for itself. You don't need to take other people down and beat them raw so they will take your side or Denny's side. Everyone should be able to express their ideas on here whether it is for or against one issue or another. Thank you, Jennifer, for ensuring that all comments from everyone are welcome.

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