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