Neighbors fight to save beloved community garden after property goes up for sale

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SAN DIEGO – A beloved community garden in Normal Heights is in danger of being sold.

Community members are coming together to try to save the Vera House Community Garden at the corner of 34th Street and North Mountain View. Neighbors say they were alarmed to see a for sale sign put up this week at the property where the garden has operated since the early 90s.

“This is such a unique thing to have available to neighbors and to the community,” neighbor Danielle Meyers said. “It just kind of adds to the charm of Normal Heights.”

The 2,463-square-foot lot has been put on the market with the seller accepting offers of between $359,000 and $399,000, its real estate listing shows. It is billed as an opportunity for a buyer to build a new home on the corner lot with the benefits of “friendly neighbors and great walkability.”

“It’s active and its alive, there’s so much life behind these gates,” said Phyllis House-Cepeda. She says the garden is named after her late mother.

“So I have a deep emotional connection with this garden,” she said. 

It would be a difficult pill to swallow for some neighbors as the garden steadily has grown into their hearts over the years. They’ve used the space to grow vegetables and herbs as well as providing educational opportunities to local schools.

“It would be really devastating to see just a two-story building come up here,” Meyers said.

In an effort to preserve the garden, Meyers launched a petition which calls on San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and the city to intervene in the sale. They would like the chance to establish ownership of the community garden, citing Gloria’s recent rollout of the “Parks for All of Us” initiative. As of Saturday, the petition has generated more than 700 signatures.

“We are very motivated to keep this place alive that we can we can enjoy, we can see beautiful smiles,” said gardener Emanuela Rossi. 

While the neighbors say they don’t know the seller, they met with the realty group The Selby Team Saturday morning to voice their concerns. 
 
“We are asking for more time to try and organize to prep and hopefully be able to buy the plot, find donors, keep the place alive,” said Rossi. 

“We are going to put together a letter and address it to the seller and basically plead for time to give us an opportunity to see what we can do to resolve this ourselves,” said House-Cepeda. 

FOX 5 reached out to realtors from The Selby Team, who declined to comment without the property owner’s permission. Gloria’s office did not immediately return a reporter’s request for comment.

“Hopefully getting some time from the seller and getting them to come to an agreement to give us time to come together with a plan and raise funds to purchase,” Meyers said. “I’m hoping the city of San Diego and Todd Gloria and whoever can help us. You know, please reach out.”

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