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Press Releases > October 23, 1999
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Lorenzo Theater Foundation

Homes Association Board Reaffirms Salvaging Theatre

Historic Status Sought For Lorenzo Theater

The Daily Review
Saturday October 23, 1999
By Carol E. Robinson -- Staff Writer

SAN LORENZO -- Despite arguments from an Alameda County planning official, a San Lorenzo panel reaffirmed its support for naming the Lorenzo Theatre property a "historical preservation zone" to protect the building.

To the applause of about 50 residents, the San Lorenzo Village Homes Association board Thursday night voted 5 to 0 to ask county planners to help obtain county historic status for the theatre. Board members voted 5-0 in May supporting the same issue.

Alameda County Zoning Administrator Darryl Gray brought the issue before the association board again because county planners suggested the theatre would be better addressed in the San Lorenzo Village specific plan.

The county establishes historic preservation districts to help save older buildings partly by barring changes that would harm their historic nature. For example, county law would prohibit removing the theater's indoor murals because of their art-deco nature. The county Board of Supervisors has the final say on land zoning changes.

Because classifying the Lorenzo Theatre as a historical preservation zone involves a land use change from commercial use, Gray said the San Lorenzo Village specific plan would address the theatre's local historic status.

The specific plan would revive the Village Square -- where business has been dwindling since Mervyn's left four years ago -- and nearby San Lorenzo shopping centers.

"(The specific plan process) is not really going to impede the efforts of the Lorenzo Theater Foundation in terms of getting it registered with the state as a historical landmark," Gray said.

Theater foundation President Larry Leal disagreed, saying a requirement of the California State Office of Historic Preservation is the theatre's gaining historic status from the county. The foundation is applying to the state historic register.

"The Lorenzo Theatre is the last remaining historic landmark that denotes San Lorenzo," Leal told the association board. Pursuing a historic preservation district for the Lorenzo Theatre while working on the specific plan would cost more county staff time and taxpayer money, Gray added.

Association board member Jim Sherman said the board had voted 5-0 in May to ask county officials to see if the theater could obtain county historic status.

"I voted for historic status (for the theatre) and I see no reason to change my vote," Sherman said.

Fremont veterinarian Dharam Salwan is trying to buy the theatre and convert the lobby into an animal clinic for his veterinarian son Sandeep Salwan. Under a county historic preservation district, Salwan may still have his vet clinic but could not make extensive changes that would damage the building's art-deco character.

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