A dispute between assets proprietor Florence Fang and the city of Hillsborough, a small, extraordinary enclave in the jap-facing hillsides of San Mateo County, the website of a domestically famous “Flintstone House,” represents a stark lesson in how not to undertake enhancements to actual property, whether or not business or, in this instance, residential.
The city has filed a lawsuit again the owner Fang concerning upgrades at the assets since it became purchased in May 2017. The lawsuit seeks compliance with an October 2018 order through the metropolis’s Administrative Hearing Panel, which discovered that the proprietor violated numerous city’s municipal code sections. Those violations, inside the shape of good-sized landscaping, a brand new deck, and a retaining wall, represent a public nuisance. Per the panel, the one’s enhancements had been completed without the benefit of permitting by way of the Hillsborough Planning Division.
Additionally, the proprietor’s decorative selections are very particular and consist of dinosaurs and other wildlife figures, outsized mushrooms, and letters spelling out Fred Flintstone’s well-known statement, “Yabba Dabba Do!” all visible through travelers heading north on Interstate 280 closer to San Francisco.
The domestic’s pals do now not appear to proportion her appreciation for the conventional Hanna-Barbera cool animated film or her choice to show her belongings into a touching slice of Bedrock and have supplied vocal competition at public hearings.
Thus, the owner has filed a cross-grievance alleging denial of loose speech rights and discrimination against her based totally on her background and nonsecular ideals.
As stated in the Administrative Hearing Panel’s order, Hillsborough’s Architecture and Design Review Board exists to address issues about the “nature, best and volume of proposed upgrades” through nearby owners, its said motive being: “To sell the orderly and harmonious improvement of the city and decorate the desirability of and historical great of lifestyles” for Hillsborough’s residents.
The board evaluates layout alternatives primarily based on the Residential Design Guidelines promulgated using the City Council. Topics addressed inside the tips encompass roofs, facades, windows, doorways, etc. Landscape design is also very tons inside the board’s ambit.
In municipalities with commercial zoning, layout overview boards also workout control over industrial layout selections to make certain that the structures meant for business or industrial functions match the character and satisfaction of present systems and other enhancements.
Marin County, for instance, has advisory or layout-overview forums for the Kentfield, Strawberry, and Tamalpais neighborhoods. These forums act as liaisons to the Marin County Board of Supervisors, the Planning Commission, and the community itself.
Tips for compliance
Where did Fang move wrong in turning her hillside domestic right into a manifestation of all matters Flintstonian? Whether one is thinking about improvements to commercial or residential assets, Fang’s technique can best be considered counterproductive and likely to fail.
First and most significantly, the right planning is important. Make positive you are operating with a certified contractor who understands and respects the applicable permitting necessities of your locale.
You do no longer want to make investments money in time and materials, simplest to find out which you need to rip out your beloved landscaping, your new deck, or your 8-foot wrought-iron Tyrannosaurus rex because you didn’t get the right lets in earlier. A method like this, within the business context, inevitably method longer timelines for development and may cause lost earnings and, doubtlessly, lawsuits from stakeholders — as an instance, tenants who have signed leases but are unable to take ownership due to the fact a municipality will now not difficulty allows or certificates final touch.