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COUNCIL: THE RED CROSS SHOULDN’T HAVE UGLY WINDOWS

Carmel Pine Cone, July 11, 2008



By MARY BROWNFIELD

MAYOR SUE McCloud and two city
council members pledged to help buy new
windows for the Carmel chapter of the
American Red Cross, rather than give the
nonprofit permission to install the inexpensive
vinyl windows it can afford.

Despite being busy with disaster relief
because of the fires in Big Sur, the Red
Cross last week appealed the planning commission’s
denial of its request to replace old,
deteriorating single-paned aluminum windows
with double-paned vinyl windows, but
it lost on a 2-3 vote.

In June, the commission decided the vinyl
windows — which include grids between the
panes to simulate the look of divided-light
versions — would conflict with design
guidelines and not fit the style of the building.

“Materials other than authentic, unclad
wood are appropriate only when it can be
demonstrated that the proposed material is
more appropriate to the architecture,” planning
and building services manager Sean
Conroy explained in his July 1 report for the
council.

Conroy recommended the council deny
the Red Cross’ appeal and uphold the decision
of the planning commission, which told
the charity group to stick to aluminum.
But during Tuesday’s hearing, the debate
was mostly about whether the Red Cross
should install wood windows. — a discussion
that inevitably involved money, despite
the fact city decision makers typically refuse
to consider costs when deciding what a
building should look like.

Red Cross Executive Director Sharon
Crino said the aluminum windows in the
chapter house are deteriorating and inefficient
in conserving energy.

Peggy Mauz, chair of the Red Cross
board, said the existing windows also don’t
provide adequate security for a building containing
confidential records.

Crino received four estimates for replacing
the aluminum windows and discovered
vinyl were the only type the agency could
justify buying.

“I would like nothing better than to put
wood windows in there, because they’re my
own preference, but the cost to put in wood
windows is astronomical, and when you’re
an organization that’s very stringently held to
donor intent — it just wasn’t something I felt
I could do,” she said.

Crino also said three hotels in town have
installed vinyl windows.

“If the planning commission is saying,
‘No,’ because they don’t want to get into
vinyl, we’ve already done that,” she said.
In addition, she reported the aluminum
windows don’t meet energy code requirements.

Inauthentic and artificial?

Michael LePage, a design review board
member, said he sympathized with the Red
Cross’ desire for energy efficiency.
“Unfortunately, the design guidelines
clearly do not support inauthentic materials
such as vinyl,” he said, though he acknowledged
some vinyl windows have been
approved. “I know they’re concerned about
cost, but I think in the long-term architectural
character of our community, we can’t consider
that.”

Former councilwoman Barbara
Livingston said vinyl windows “are very
artificial looking” and never weather the way
natural materials do.

If the council does not want to follow the
city’s guidelines, it should rewrite them, not
ignore them by approving such requests,
commented Carmel Residents Association
member Monte Miller.

“We’re not supposed to ask about money,”
councilwoman Karen Sharp observed. “But
is that an issue?”

“It’s huge,” Crino responded. “For me, it’s
a matter of doing this or doing nothing. It’s
not a matter of going back and trying to do
wood or something else.”

Councilman Gerard Rose supported the
appeal and said the replacement “makes
common sense.”

“This is a good looking window,” he said
before making a motion to grant the appeal.
“It’s replacing a window that is uglier than
sin.”

Councilman Ken Talmage wondered if
the council’s reaction would be different
were the applicant not the Red Cross, but
Rose said he would feel the same way if KB
Homes wanted vinyl windows.
Talmage also worried approval of Crino’s
application would prompt many other similar
requests.

McCloud said she was “more troubled by
the fact the mullions are so fake because
they’re between the glass, as opposed to
being on the outside.”

Vinyl windows are available with external
mullions but cost at least 25 percent more,
according to the supplier.

“This is very troubling, because I think
we all want to support you,” McCloud said.
Sharp, who has an emotional tie to the
Red Cross since it helped when her Santa
Barbara home burned to the ground years
ago, also couldn’t condone vinyl windows.
“I don’t think these windows are very
attractive,” she said. “I’d do a personal campaign
to get you nicer windows.”

Hazdovac said the proposed replacements
“look a million times better than the windows
that are on that building.

She also advocated for “common sense
and logic.”

“Even though they may go against our
code, these are windows,” she said. “This is
not a 10-story building. This is not that big a
deal, really.”

Rose’s motion to grant the appeal failed
2-3. While submitting their no-votes,
Talmage, Sharp and McCloud pledged to
raise enough money to replace the chapter
house’s aluminum windows with new models
that would be energy-efficient, secure
and acceptable under city design guidelines.



Last Updated: Mar 23, 10

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