Respecting Sacred Tribal Sites and Honoring Community Concerns

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CA_SanDiegoCounty_Black15In 2004, the Chancellor of University of California, San Diego determined that his home, University House, was unfit to live in and had the building closed. In addition to being much loved throughout the community, the property is of significant cultural importance. Ancestral tribal burial grounds were found on the property years ago. The original plan for the house would have demolished the historic structure and the tribal burial grounds. The community and local tribes expressed serious concerns about the proposed project and had the location designated a Sanctified Cemetery pursuant to the California Public Resources Code.

Through the use of CEQA, the community was able to protect a valuable cultural resource by preventing the demolition of University House and sacred tribal lands. The CEQA environmental review process ensured that the public remained informed about the plans for the property and provided a framework for community input to the University. Once University staff learned about the public’s concerns, they decided to work with the community and developed a rehabilitation plan to restore the historic structure and protect the landform that contains the ancestral burial grounds.