Casino San Clemente


Which brings us to the historic Casino San Clemente , recently known as Sebastian's West.  Built in 1937, it is an icon of North Beach and an official City Historic Landmark. Several years ago, the building was purchased by a developer who proposed to demolish some 60% of the historical resource and move its remnants to a corner of the parcel to make way for new condos.  Under increasing pressure from the community, the developer floated an idea to demolish 60% of the structure, but not move the remnants.

The Historical Society adopted a policy that opposed any demolition, even partial, and opposed any relocation of any part of the Casino building.  The Society's policy calls for the preservation of the historical resource and its continued adaptive reuse.  The Society opposed demolition of the building in letters, news articles, letters to the editor, special editorials, creative graphics, meetings, community events, speeches and PowerPoint presentations before the public, the Planning Commission's design review subcommittee, the Planning Commission itself and the City Council.

After the City lamely attempted to declare that the developer's project did not require an Environmental Impact Report (a "Negative Declaration") the Society demanded that an EIR be prepared, won that argument, and attended the EIR Scoping Committee Meeting en masse.  Numerous letters, speeches and presentations drove home the Society's point to the City and to the developer that the California Environmental Quality Act prohibits approval of the demolition project.  The developer and City government learned (again) that historical preservation is one of the core values of the community.

The developer abandoned plans to demolish the building, and turned over ownership to a new owner, Lab Holdings LLC. The Society is gratified to learn that the new owner has no plans for demolition or relocation of the historic structures on the parcel . Shaheen Sadeghi, managing member of Lab Holdings LLC, told this writer: 

We're excited about the opportunity to restore the historic buildings to original and our aspiration is to bring back entertainment, perhaps a casual cafe.  We're hoping that we can get the support of the City for a Conditional Use Permit so we will be able to park the project.  We have no plans for any demolition or relocation of historic resources or for any condo construction. 


So, CONGRATULATIONS TO THE VOLUNTEERS OF THE SAN CLEMENTE HISTORICAL SOCIETY!!  Standing on the shoulders of giants who came before, today's volunteers of the Historical Society have much to be proud of in the struggle to save the Casino. Here's to preserving San Clemente's physical heritage! And we wish Lab Holdings LLC much success in their historical preservation objectives at the Casino San Clemente!

Miramar Theater –The last owner applied for a demolition permit to demolish the theater. Thousands of signatures were received to “To Save the Miramar” and signs were placed on front yards with signs stating “Save the Miramar”. Signatures and signs continue to this day. The Historical Society does not promote any business plan, but asks that the property be adaptively reused.

The new owner of the property has removed the demolition permit from the city. He says he wants to restore the theater. No business plan has been produced for the theater at this time, so the Historical Society is cautiously continuing their preservation efforts.


Sea Cliff Villas (Robison House)

The Sea Cliff Villas and famous gardens are still in danger of development. Its owners tried to get approval for seven new condos but were finally defeated by the Coastal Commission who denied their application. The owners are in the process of selling the property to another owner whose plans we have not heard yet. Stay tuned.


Beachcomber Motel

In 2006, the Beachcomber Motel owner applied to demolish the historic building to construct a huge hotel in its place. The City staff recommended denial to the Planning Commission who voted to deny it. The application has been postponed so that the developer can modify his plans to please the City Council. No other plans have come forward. Stay tuned.


Doheny House  

(35101 Camino Capistrano, Dana Point)

The San Clemente Historical Society supports the preservation of the historic Doheny House, a locally registered historic resource, and is opposed to its demolition or relocation.  The Doheny House property abuts or nearly abuts the limits of the City of San Clemente, and is treasured by citizens of Dana Point as well as by citizens of the greater South Orange County area and beyond.  Once this historic resource is gone, it's gone forever — a local cultural tragedy. 


New Ordinance

After two years of research and public hearings by its Landmarks Task Force, the recommendations of its historical consultant (Historical Resources Group) and its Planning Commission, the San Clemente City Council approved the long awaited City Landmarks Ordinance.

The new ordinance:

  • Identifies five new non-structure cultural resources. 
  • Designates 22 structures as official City “Landmarks.” 
  • Waives many cultural heritage permit fees. 
  • Provides a Planning Department liason person with preservation expertise. 
  • to assist historic property owners through the permit and planning process. 
  • Provides for “Landmark” plaques to be placed on such building, with owner's permission. 
  • Sets up community educational and grant programs to enhance historical 
  • preservation. 
  • Establishes a comprehensive law specifically prohibiting “demolition by neglect.”
  • The new ordinance celebrates the most iconic of the City's historic structures, enhances and encourages historical preservation, and does not burden historic property owners, nor their neighbors, with any new restrictions.


Official San Clemente Landmarks

(as approved by City Council on October 2, 2007) 

This list is not in any particular order.

  1. 304 Avenida Cabrillo, L.S. Frasier House, 1938
  2. Avenida del las Palmeras, Cotton Estate Gate, 1928
  3. 114 Avenida Del Mar, Hotel San Clemente, 1927
  4. 415 Avenida Granada , Casa Romantica, 1928
  5. 233 Avenida la Cuesta, Campbell House, 1941
  6. 243 Avenida la Cuesta, Goldschmidt House, 1928
  7. 105 W. Avenida Pico, Ole Hanson Beach Club, 1927
  8. 140 W. Avenida Pico, Casino San Clemente , 1936
  9. 611 Avenida Victoria , Municipal Pier, 1928
  10. 4100 Calle Isabella, Casa Pacifica (Cotton Estate) 1926
  11. 100 No. Calle Seville, Community Center (Ole Hanson Room and Site) 1927
  12. 412 Cazador Lane , Warner House, 1929
  13. 100 S. El Camino Real, Bartlett Building , 1926
  14. 101 S. El Camino Real, Easley Building , 1929
  15. 104-118 N. El Camino Real, Administration Building , 1926
  16. 1426 N. El Camino Real, San Onofre Inn, 1928
  17. 408 N. El Camino Real, Old City Hall , 1928
  18. 1209 Buena Vista , Moulton House, 1929
  19. 418 Cazador Lane , 1926
  20. 420 Cazador Lane , Ann Harding House, 1926
  21. 230 W. Marquita, Swigart House, 1929
  22. 202 Avenida Aragon, St. Clement's Church, 1930


Unapproved Landmarks

Proposed by Historical Resources Group, Landmarks Task Force, and Planning Commission but NOT YET APPROVED by City Council as Landmarks as of October 2, 2007:

  1. 1700 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente Theater, 1937 – Miramar Theater.
  2. 529-533 Avenida Victoria , Beachcomber Motel, 1947
  3. 402-404 Pasadena Court , Sea Cliff Villas (Robison House), 1927