Recognizable for its bright hues and bulbous shape, views of the “Flintstone House” from Interstate 280 have captured the imaginations of many who have passed by the Hillsborough home for years.

Having adorned the property at 45 Berryessa Way with dinosaur statues and a sign reading “Yabba Dabba Doo” in recent months, the home’s owner Florence Fang seems to have embraced the personality many have assigned to the hillside home overlooking the Crystal Springs Reservoir.

But the additions have not been welcomed by all — in a lawsuit filed in the San Mateo County Superior Court Wednesday, the town of Hillsborough is calling the home a public nuisance, alleging Fang is long overdue in addressing municipal code violations and must remove the landscaping improvements officials say were installed at the home without planning approvals or building permits.

Among the improvements in question are several large dinosaur statues and other figurines, a sign with the words “Yabba Dabba Doo,” a retaining wall, deck, parking strip and steps, all of which were installed beginning in 2017 without required planning review and building permits, according to the suit.

Assistant City Attorney Mark Hudak said in an email Hillsborough has an extensive program for planning review of home construction and landscaping projects, which allows for neighbors’ input on projects as well as the application of community standards.

“This process has worked very well for the town and its residents,” he said. “It is not fair when someone circumvents this process and builds without permits.”

According to a Decision and Order of the town’s Administrative Hearing Panel, the town issued a building permit for a low retaining wall in the front of the property in November of 2017. When an inspection was done, staff found other improvements outside the scope of the permit, such as extensive landscaping in the back yard, a new deck and a retaining wall on the side of the property adjacent to the garage.

Since the improvements were made on an area larger than 10,000 square feet and because some unenclosed structures may have been located within setbacks, planning approvals for those improvements were required, according to the panel’s order.

According to the suit, the Hillsborough Building Department issued a stop order Dec. 11, 2017, and issued two others Jan. 12, and Aug. 1, 2018, when work continued at the home. Fang allegedly submitted an application for an after-the-fact building permit in February of 2018, but it was deemed incomplete since the application did not include a survey showing property boundaries, setbacks and the location of the newly-installed improvements, according to the panel’s order. Fang allegedly did not provide any further information for the application after staff sent a March 14, 2018, letter outlining the additional information needed to submit the application, and could not be reached for comment for this story.

Cited for multiple violations of the Hillsborough municipal code, Fang appeared but did not speak at a hearing held before the town’s Administrative Hearing Panel Oct. 29, 2018, during which the panel unanimously issued the Decision and Order finding the property violated the town’s code and constituted a public nuisance, according to the suit. The order also imposed a $200 penalty and required the landscaping improvements be removed by Dec. 5, noting the landscaping improvements were “designed to be very intrusive, resulting in the owner’s ‘vision’ for her property being imposed on many other properties and views, without regard to the desires of other residents.”

Though Fang paid the $200 penalty Dec. 11, she did not remove the landscaping improvements or comply with any other requirements of the panel’s Decision and Order. She was warned through a Jan. 31 letter from Hudak that a lawsuit would be filed to enforce the order if she didn’t comply within 30 days, according to the suit.

Composed of Hillsborough residents, the Administrative Hearing Panel found Fang did not have the required permits and should not be rewarded for building first and then applying for permits later, noted Hudak.

“They ordered that she remove all of her figurines and that she correct other code violations,” he said. “We expect that the court will uphold this decision and order her to comply with the panel’s decision.”

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

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(38) comments

DougOSaurus

I love the Flintstone House. What they have done is positive for the community. These guys are insane to want to quash it.

Common Cents

Folks, your responses are egocentric (I, me, myself) and emotional (I feel, I remember watching Dino..., I love kitties). The issue is how the homeowner went about doing these warm fuzzy things. She is blatantly in error and simply needs to take some corrective measures. Blaming the very people who are protecting you is perversely wrong.

Gloria Gael

These are the same people who cry and moan when their "property rights" are being infringed upon because someone brings up the idea of renter protections, such as having only for-cause eviction, red tag ordinances, and the MOST DREADED words ever spoken, the queen mother of dirty words - RENT CONTROL. Let this woman exercise her property rights. Oh, and get a darn SENSE OF HUMOR!!

Common Cents

It's obvious that the overwhelming number of comments are concerned about selfish dispositions and the decision to push rules and regs aside. We all love the Flintstones and the romance of seeing it from the highway. However, building codes were developed to protect people and properties because poorly implemented projects were created in the past... creating problems.

Codes are the minimum (minimum) to which construction projects can be built.

This is so easy to fix. Simply abide by the lowest standards available to you.

I would be so sad if my 7 year old child was crushed under a dinosaur because the rains washed away the soil under its base, which weren't up to the lowest standards.

BTW, code, which can be inconvenient but worth it's weight in gold, has been written for everyone. It's not for some homeowners here and some homeowners there. When you cherry pick we all suffer.

Stop being selfish. Go over and help the lady fix things.

Perry Rivera

Wonderfully well said, Common Cents ! Did you see the aerial photos of the unsupported decks ? Yikes. The property owner is taking crazy chances.

Joe Murtagh

This is absolutely ridiculous!! Everyone loves this house and I’ve loved it since I was a kid. When it went on the market years ago I made sure to visit the inside. It’s sucj a great house and I love what they’ve done to the place!!

Deereef

To Common sense: If those statues were able to stand tall after all the storm we just had, I say they did a pretty good job anchoring those down. Also, why would your 7 year old be wandering on the bottom of the hill? And isn’t your kid your responsibility? Her house is her house, this is not a public area.

Common Cents

Common Cents says!
...You're bursting at the seams with emotions, which in itself is a good thing. But when it comes to governing ALL the people in the city it's a bad way to proceed.

I don't mind your snide remarks directed at me. I do, however, mind efforts to undermind the hard working city officials who are protecting this lady, you and everyone else.

Terence Y

Sounds like it may be time for investigators/reporters to look at other Hillsborough houses, even those of the Administrative Hearing Panel, and determine whether landscaping improvements and buildings have been added with, or without, the appropriate permits. We can then determine whether the Panel is equal in their enforcement activities. Heck, maybe we have a version of Operation Varsity Blues in our own backyard.

Deereef

This really upsets me. I love what this owner did to the house! I am a resident of Hillsborough for over a decade and have no problem with this, so who is the “town” representating when filling this lawsuit. I am also frustrated by the council spending my tax money on private lawyer like Mark Hudak, who is famous around town for being a bully, for something this nonsense. The home owner has spend effort and money into making this icon even nicer and this is what she gets? I enjoys her decorations and I am sure the majority of my neighbors agreed.

Friendly hillsborough neighbour

There is no objectivity in the process of Hillsborough city law suits.
The Hillsborough city needs to hire a full time lawyer to show objectivity this Mark Hurdok is a motivated by money as he is consultant and gets paid only when he is involved in a law suit and he is not objective in determining if a case is really needed,look at Glassdoor review on this law firm the level of ethical behavior is demonstrated by the comments

Also my kids and I love this house and Mrs Fong has spend a lot of money and effort to reinstate the real character of the house . The city should have woken up 46 years old why now, is because the city lawyer things it is easy to harass a elderly harmless women

None of us neighbors have an issue with house but lovely the idea of being associate with all the new decorations

Also the wall and decorations in question is at the back of the house and not visible to other neighbors, 280 freeway is not under jurisdiction of Hillsborough city and is of no concern to them. Also 2 feet retaining wall per building ordinance doesn’t require permit, so city officials get you facts right And be consistent to what you advice and allow other residence of the city. The city needs to leave Mrs Fong alone and apologize for defamation of such a graceful women publicly

Friendly hillsborough neighbour

This city action is not acceptable they have no right to defamation of such a accomplished global leader who has given so much to the community.

There is no objectivity in the process of Hillsborough city law suits.
The Hillsborough city needs to hire a full time lawyer to show objectivity this Mark Hurdok is a motivated by money as he is consultant and gets paid only when he is involved in a law suit and he is not objective in determining if a case is really needed,look at Glassdoor review on this law firm the level of ethical behavior is demonstrated by the comments

Also my kids and I love this house and Mrs Fong has spend a lot of money and effort to reinstate the real character of the house . The city should have woken up 46 years old why now, is because the city lawyer things it is easy to harass a elderly harmless women

None of us neighbors have an issue with house but lovely the idea of being associate with all the new decorations

Also the wall and decorations in question is at the back of the house and not visible to other neighbors, 280 freeway is not under jurisdiction of Hillsborough city and is of no concern to them. Also 2 feet retaining wall per building ordinance doesn’t require permit, so city officials get you facts right And be consistent to what you advice and allow other residence of the city. The city needs to leave Mrs Fong alone and apologize for defamation of such a graceful women publicly,

Friendly hillsborough neighbour

This city action is not acceptable they have no right to defamation of such a accomplished global leader who has given so much to the community.

There is no objectivity in the process of Hillsborough city law suits.
The Hillsborough city needs to hire a full time lawyer to show objectivity this Mark Hurdok is a motivated by money as he is consultant and gets paid only when he is involved in a law suit and he is not objective in determining if a case is really needed,look at Glassdoor review on this law firm the level of ethical behavior is demonstrated by the comments

Also my kids and I love this house and Mrs Fong has spend a lot of money and effort to reinstate the real character of the house . The city should have woken up 46 years old why now, is because the city lawyer things it is easy to harass a elderly harmless women

None of us neighbors have an issue with house but lovely the idea of being associate with all the new decorations

Also the wall and decorations in question is at the back of the house and not visible to other neighbors, 280 freeway is not under jurisdiction of Hillsborough city and is of no concern to them. Also 2 feet retaining wall per building ordinance doesn’t require permit, so city officials get you facts right And be consistent to what you advice and allow other residence of the city. The city needs to leave Mrs Fong alone and apologize for defamation of such a graceful women publicly.

Richard Paolinelli

I just e-mailed this to the entire city council: Don't you worthless people have anything better to do than harass a woman who merely brought a little life and joy to an otherwise soulless city? The only changes she made were decorative, do not involve the structure, and do not endanger any lives.

Leave her alone and reexamine your entire lives. Because right now, from where I sit, it is you who are the public nuisance.

You can let them know what you think by e-mailing them to: SChristianson@hillsborough.net
,
ARoyse@hillsborough.net
,
JBenton@hillsborough.net
,
MChuang@hillsborough.net
,
LMay@hillsborough.net

BelmontMom

I can’t believe they are punishing her for bringing joy and fun to all who pass by. My whole family has appreciated the Flintstone house for many years and the dinosaurs were a welcomed improvement!

SMChristine

I agree, my family loves them too. It's definitely a highlight during a 280 drive and you can't help but smile.

Concerned

Cindy,

Have you ever owned a property?

Why is your entire life focused on taking from others who have been successful?

How sad,

Dalevitt

One of the things about the peninsula that's a downer is the absence of landmarks. For all the technical transcendence and wealth of silicon valley, there is very little noteworthy to showcase in a road tour. Yet, every time I host out of town guests, I always show the Flintstones house. It's as close to a modern day landmark that I can think of. Maybe in some decades it will even seen as such, a historical site. For now, it represents a joyful expression and everything that California is meant to be about. This article makes Hillsborough residents seem like humorless joykills with nothing good to do with their time.

Dalevitt

Just biked by the "offensive" house. It's almost at the end of a cul de sac. Other than the house itself, which has been there for 46 years, from the street you'd have to strain your neck to maybe see the top of a head of a dinosaur statue, because of the slope of the house ... So who is the house bothering? The next door neighbors? Or is it just the idea of her having these fantastic themed statues on her back lawn without asking the decency police the problem? Just ride around Hillsborough, and you'll see other houses with creative statues in the FRONT of the houses. Were these all permitted, too? Come on Hillsborough, stop being silly and let it go!

UtopianThoughts

Correction to my previous post:
Make your displeasure known at
https://www.hillsborough.net/144/City-Council

I suspect the most effective would be a letter writing campaign by Hillsborough school children.

This is an abuse of the public nuisance ordinance. The dinosaurs are a public treasure.

Hopefully some children’s voices will encourage council to lead by example and stop bullying residents who are different who bring joy to their neighbors and the entire Bay Area.

Hillsborough resident

Ms Fong is our neighbor and a great lady and a good neighbor. This house was on sale and no buyer, she bought the house and redid the decorations and opened it to the kids in the neighborhood. It brings pleasure to the kids and us to be close to the house and Ms fong. The Hillsborough city is corrupt, racist and the contractor attorney Mark Hudak gets paid by sueing Hillsborough residents. There were no new walls or retaining walls made, all this nice lady did was add color and decorations including the dinosaur to the landscape behind the house. When can the city tell us how to decorate our house and backyards. The Yabba Dabba Doo sign is a pleasure for my 8 year old and for other kids in the neighborhood. Hillsborough planning committee is a joke run by people who will not listen to you as they have wrongs facts given to them by the the city attorney Mark. Please support Ms Fong and this house and help kids to smile when they look at the house and say Yadda Dadda Doo

SMChristine

I have loved this house ever since I was a child. As someone born and raised in SMC, I know firsthand how beloved this house is. Even now anytime we pass by it on 280, my 5 year old daughter and I acknowledge it out loud and smile. I love what has been done to the property. The dinosaurs are absolutely amazing pieces of art and it’s nice to have this landmark spread some joy. In an area that has lost so much character, can’t we have a little magic on the hill? Save the Dinosaurs!

SMChristine

I have loved this house ever since I was a child. As someone born and raised in SMC, I know firsthand how beloved this house is. Even now anytime we pass by it on 280, my 5 year old daughter and I acknowledge it out loud and smile. I love what has been done to the property. The dinosaurs are absolutely amazing pieces of art and it’s nice to have this landmark spread some joy. In an area that has lost so much character, can’t we have a little magic on the hill? Save the Dinosaurs!

UtopianThoughts

According to Hillsboroughs own website for ordinances. A Permit and Design Review is only required for "Outdoor Fixtures" defined as: "Outdoor fixture" means any wall (excluding any retaining wall eighteen inches or less in height), utility box, fence, gate, column, pillar, post, flag pole, light post or similar lighting fixture (excluding any standard mail box, as defined in this section), either freestanding or incorporated into a fence or wall.

Note Art, or Statues is NOT defined as a reviewable Outdoor Fixture.

If Dinosaur statues were defined as such they would be reviewable under:
C. Any outdoor fixture over six feet in height (except flag poles) regardless of location.

The town was allowed to penalize for double the permit fee, which they have done.

There appear to be no other remedies they are allowed to take.
They can of course change their code in the future, but they would not be allowed to apply it retroactively to Mrs. Fang.

The only other clause that would apply would be to improvements near the street:
any improvements, landscaping or gardening of any kind or nature, over, on or within the right-of-way adjacent to public streets or highways of the town, but this wouldn't apply to the decorations visible from 280.

Hopefully Mrs. Fang benefits from my research:
https://library.municode.com/ca/hillsborough/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=TIT12MAAFRI-WVIUTFI

Yabba Dabba Doo

Christopher Conway

The Fangs sound like they're a modern stoneage family.

Casey

The town is 46 years too late in calling this house a “public nuisance.” Installing retaining walls, ok, yes, a permit. But the town is overreaching to demand the removal of the dinosaurs. That is just decorating, and like others have said, if the dinosaurs should be replaced with giant pink flamingos if the town pursues that.

jbarrettjr

Where is the support from the animal rights groups?!

Ted

This is completely unbelievable. I get and support that significant retaining walls and decks require permits and that issue should be dealt with. However, the dinosaurs in her back yard, really??? There are so many other real nuisance priorities to go after before we get to someone’s back yard art. As a native Californian I have always loved that California is a special place that allows us the freedom to be who we are. Ms. Fang is one of those people that make California special. Shame on the City Attorney Mark Hudak for making our world less interesting. I hope he enjoys his beige box.

Cynthia Newton

Oh come on, I love the dinosaurs!

Aristokatz

Jesus people! This house is awesome! The improvements are eye-popping spectacular! My inner-child lights up every time I drive past this place! Leave the poor lady alone! Perhaps we should all start a petition to ask the city of Hillsborough to leave her alone? This house is like the highlight of my commute every time my sales job has me traveling this way! Give the lady a break, cut her some slack and leave her be! She bought the place, I assume she’s paying her mortgage and property taxes, leave her the €r@p alone, already!

Deereef

I completely agree.

jeanlw831

Nothing wrong with the dino statues. Ms. Fang should be able to decorate her property as she likes. I love seeing the dinos when I drive by on 280. They always make me smile.

JD Rhoads

The dinosaurs stay! The naysayers can go!

UtopianThoughts

While Hillsborough is certainly within its rights to protest the landscaping changes including the retaining walls and addition of parking, the order demanding the removal of the dinosaur statues without compensation is both illegal and mean spirited. The city cannot regulate good taste. The dinosaurs are art pieces sold by a loca Half Moon Bay artist. Bay Area citizens should protest this overreach.

If forced to remove the existing statues, Fang should replace them with plastic pink flamingoes or something even more obnoxious as is her right. This is legalistic bullying pure and simple.

Cynthia Newton

I love that, pink flamingos would be great!

Hikertom

Who is being harmed by those dinosaur statues? NO ONE.

Terryw

What took so long??

Cindy Cornell

Haha. So much for property rights!

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