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Land-use saga of ‘Flintstone House’ well-knownshows pitfalls in pursuing actual estate development goals

Real Estate Law

Land-use saga of ‘Flintstone House’ well-knownshows pitfalls in pursuing actual estate development goals


A dispute between assets owner Florence Fang and the town of Hillsborough, a small, one-of-a-kind enclave within the Japanese-going through hillsides of San Mateo County, the web page of a regionally well-known “Flintstone House,” represents a stark lesson in how not to adopt enhancements to real belongings, whether commercial or, in this example, residential.
‘Flintstones’ controversy
The town has filed a lawsuit once more the proprietor Fang regarding enhancements on the assets since it became bought in May 2017. The lawsuit seeks compliance with an October 2018 order by using the town’s Administrative Hearing Panel, which located that the owner violated several sections of the town’s municipal code. Those violations, inside the shape of full-size landscaping, a new deck, and a maintaining wall, represent a public nuisance. Per the panel, the one’s enhancements have been achieved without the gain of allowing by the Hillsborough Planning Division.
Additionally, the proprietor’s decorative alternatives are concrete and encompass dinosaur and different flora and fauna figures, outsized mushrooms, and letters spelling out Fred Flintstone’s public announcement, “Yabba Dabba Do!” all visible using vacationers heading north on Interstate 280 closer to San Francisco.
The home’s acquaintances do no longer appear to percentage her appreciation for the traditional Hanna-Barbera caricature or her choice to show her belongings into a little slice of Bedrock and feature furnished vocal opposition at public hearings.
Thus a long way, the proprietor has filed a move-complaint alleging denial of free speech rights and discrimination against her primarily based on her historical past and nonsecular ideals.
Community standards
As said inside the Administrative Hearing Panel’s order, Hillsborough’s Architecture and Design Review Board exists to deal with issues approximately the “nature, quality and quantity of proposed improvements” through local house owners, its said purpose being: “To sell the orderly and harmonious improvement of the metropolis and enhance the desirability of and historical nice of lifestyles” for Hillsborough’s residents.
The board evaluates layout picks primarily based on the Residential Design Guidelines promulgated by way of the City Council. Topics addressed in the suggestions encompass the design of roofs, facades, home windows and doorways, and so on. Landscape design is likewise very lots within the board’s ambit.
In municipalities with commercial zoning, layout evaluation forums additionally workout manipulate over business layout choices to make sure that the structures meant for commercial enterprise or business purposes healthy in with the nature and first-rate of current arrangements and other enhancements.
Marin County, as an instance, has advisory or layout-evaluation boards for the Kentfield, Strawberry and Tamalpais neighborhoods. Those forums act as liaisons to the Marin County Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and the community itself.
Tips for compliance
Where did Fang cross wrong in turning her hillside domestic right into a manifestation of all things Flintstonian? Whether one is considering upgrades to be commercial or residential property, Fang’s approach can simplest be taken into consideration counterproductive and possibly to fail.
First and most importantly, proper making plans is essential. Make positive you are running with an authorized contractor who knows and respects the applicable allowing necessities of your locale.
You do no longer need to make investments cash in time and substances, most effective to discover that you need to rip out your loved one landscaping, your new deck or your 8-foot wrought-iron Tyrannosaurus rex due to the fact you didn’t get the right lets in earlier. An approach like this, within the business context, inevitably method longer timelines for development and might result in misplaced income and, doubtlessly, complaints from stakeholders — for instance, tenants who have signed rentals however are unable to take possession because a municipality will now not difficulty allows or certificates of completion.
Architecture and Design Review Boards, which operate underneath varying designations at both the county and municipal stages, may additionally look like petty dictators obsessed with the protection of Stepford-like continuity and homogeneity.
But no matter a property proprietor’s opinion of those bodies, the review forums do not like to have their will thwarted or their recommendations neglected. With the police power of neighborhood authorities behind them, they can make noncompliant property proprietors’ lives very uncomfortable. These our bodies are supposed to make sure that local property values remain excessive, that citizens aren’t subjected to pals’ extreme or debatable design alternatives, and that their towns stay attractive locations to do business, live and play.
Try to work out a bit objectivity to your design alternatives. Look at your community to get a sense for a way neighbors have selected to decorate and improve their homes. Get the opinion of layout professionals earlier than making any drastic adjustments.
Design professionals are often versed adequately inside the nearby layout guidelines and assist you in making the right choices that gained’t delivers upward thrust to the citizen and governmental resistance.
While citizen enter is regularly given higher weight with regards to residential construction, network standards will genuinely manual approval related to commercial houses, as correctly.
Unfortunately for Fang, no longer every town is prepared for a life-sized homage to the old fashioned prehistory of the fictitious city of Bedrock and its first circle of relatives, the Flintstones.
Even if Fang had sought to allow the popularity of sure of her landscaping factors, it’s probably that the Architecture and Design Review Board would have put its collective foot down at the elements of her folly and Fantasia that different citizens found jarring or discomfiting.
But any desire that she may have had to reach some détente with the neighborhood government is probably forever dashed using her cavalier mindset closer to the jurisdiction that the one’s authorities have over her and her prized hillside home.