CARLSBAD — Once more because of a threat of development in the area, the Marron-Hayes Adobe has been re-added to the SOHO (Save Our Heritage Organisation) 2012 most endangered list of historical resources.
“Things get nominated every year and we put things on the list that, first of all, we think are threatened and that we can have an impact on,” said Bruce Coons, executive director of SOHO, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group founded in 1969.
There are a total of 12 other historical resources that are on the list this year, including Balboa Park and the La Jolla Post Office.
“If something gets on the most endangered list it means it’s really, really important; it means we’re going to concentrate much of our resources on that, and we’ll do everything we can to protect them,” Coons said.
The Marron-Hayes Adobe has been placed on the list before, when, in 2003, there was talk of placing a freeway interchange next to the property. The adobe runs along the Oceanside/Carlsbad border near state Route 78.
With efforts from other nonprofit and environmental groups, the property was spared and was moved off the list. Threatened sites are taken off the list simply by removing the threat, Coons explained.
Diane Nygaard is president of Preserve Calavera, a nonprofit organization that works to protect and preserve natural resources in coastal North County.
“The adobe is in the center of the Buena Vista Creek Valley,” Nygaard said. “Very early on we identified that valley as…one of the key areas left in North County that needed to be preserved.”
The group was able to purchase 134-acres on the western half of the property, which is now the Buena Vista Creek Ecological Reserve, Nygaard explained. “But the other half of the valley, that is equally important,” she said.
The eastern half, Nygaard hopes, can be preserved by using money from Measure C, which Carlsbad residents passed in 2002, and allows for some of the city’s reserve funds to be used for projects, including open space acquisition.
Nygaard thinks that now is the time to use that money for open space acquisition. “It’s clear there’s going to be more and more pressure on this land as the remaining parcels that are left are moving towards development,” she said.
The Quarry Creek site is under ownership of Hanson Aggregates, which is currently reclaiming the land, a process necessary following years of granite mining.
Nygaard explained that Hanson entered into a purchase agreement with McMillan Development several years ago. “And once they have finished that reclamation, then they’ll execute that agreement.”
McMillan does have a planning application filed with the city of Carlsbad to develop the 156-acre Quarry Creek property with 656 residential units. The El Salto Falls won’t be affected by the development.
Groups including SOHO and Preserve Calavera have been in talks with the developers for years, expressing their concerns over the preservation of the area. Talks continue between all parties, with another meeting scheduled for next week.
The reclamation efforts by Hanson will widen the creek, which will have a positive impact on the native plants and habitat.
What makes the land so attractive to both developers and environmental groups is that it’s one of the last undeveloped pieces, Coons explained. “We have very few adobes from the Mexican-Rancho period of California and this one is extremely important and almost none of them are in their original settings,” he said. “This one is particularly precious,” he said.
“To us it’s a cultural landscape,” Coons added.
Shelley Hayes Caron lives in the Marron-Hayes Adobe. She is a direct descendant of the Marron and Hayes families, which have lived on the land for the past 170 years.
Apart from living on the adobe, Caron also hosts tours to students and talks about the history of the area.
“What we’re trying to protect now is the actual view. The setting; the sense of place,” Caron said. “And if that’s destroyed then you’ve lost what this is. When you stand on the porch of the adobe and you look out over the valley, you can imagine what life was like 200 years ago.”
What Caron, a member of SOHO, would like to see happen is a creation of a trail system that goes from the El Salto Falls to the ocean. “I don’t want to see anything else paved with concrete and asphalt,” she said.
On June 26, Preserve Calavera will make a plea to the Carlsbad City Council, asking that money from Measure C be used to help acquire the endangered open space.