Graffiti dotted the California Theatre, seen here from C Street, which was partially surrounded by fencing that didn't keep people from entering the building on Aug. 10, 2022. / Photo by Jakob McWhinney
Graffiti dotted the California Theatre, seen here from C Street, which was partially surrounded by fencing that didn't keep people from entering the building on Aug. 10, 2022. / Photo by Jakob McWhinney

This post originally appeared in the Aug. 19 Morning Report. Get the daily newsletter in your inbox today.

Mayor Todd Gloria’s office says the parties now responsible for the blighted California Theatre have agreed to take immediate steps to secure the long-shuttered downtown venue as they prepare to demolish it.

Gloria spokeswoman Rachel Laing said the receiver and creditor that took over after an Australia-based developer liquidated and abandoned a city-approved overhaul of the site told city officials during a Thursday meeting that they will take rapid action.

Receiver McGrathNicol and creditor OCP Asia Hong Kong met with the city development services officials just over a week after the city sent a letter to developer Caydon Property Group describing an “alarming lack of action” on imminent safety concerns and highlighting the company’s failure to submit a plan to demolish the theater as demanded by the city. 

“They were told the mayor wants (the theater) demoed immediately but until then, they need a four-person fire watch to watch the building 24/7 and [to] note who’s coming in and out,” Laing wrote in a text message. “Every time someone exits, they have to ask if anyone else is in there. 

Once they’re confident the building is empty, they’ll secure it and make the perimeter fencing larger while preparing to demo.”

The city had previously requested that the owner adjust fencing around the theater to establish a falling hazard protection zone to ensure building ornaments and other features don’t drop on people around it.

Laing said she could not immediately share a specific timeline for the demolition the city has ordered.

For now, an investigation remains underway over the building owners’ failure to address concerns flagged by the city.

City Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Leslie Wolf Branscomb confirmed that the office’s Nuisance Abatement Unit is digging in following a referral from the city’s code enforcement division.

McGrathNicol and OCP Asia Hong Kong did not immediately respond to questions from Voice of San Diego on Thursday.

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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