Software mogul Mitch Kapor can crack open the champagne. At last night’s City Council meeting Berkeley’s council members voted to reject the appeal on his approved application to the Zoning Application Board to build a new home in our city. His plan for a contemporary, 6,478 sq ft house at 2707 Rose Street now has the green light.
The item was passed 6 in favor, 2 against and one in absentia. Commenting on the long, divisive debate that preceded last night’s meeting — which has been extensively documented on Berkeleyside — council member Linda Maio said that in her 20 years of serving the city, it was the first time she had seen immediate neighbors be so supportive of a land-use application – while other neighbors, who lived further away, were being so vocal about the project’s detriments.
Council member Susan Wengraf, who said she lived within 800 feet of the proposed new home, said she hoped the wounds opened on the issue between warring neighbors would heal soon. “Delaying the motion would delay the healing,” she said. She also spoke about the “celebrity” factor, saying: “This application is not about the ‘who’ but the ‘what’.”
Council member Laurie Capitelli said as the proposed home was not on a ridge line, would not block views and would go unnoticed from many points nearby, so he was standing by the ZAB decision.
Opposing the motion, council member Kris Worthington cited the issue of absent story poles (discussed in our comments over the past few months) and a letter from the Landmark Preservation Commission which he felt should have been given more consideration. He said he believed there were several mistakes in the application. Council member Jesse Arreguin also voted against the motion saying he didn’t feel he had enough information to make a decision.
Several comments were made about the appealing aspect of District 6, the part of north Berkeley where Mitch Kapor, an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley, and his wife Freada Klein may soon live. Mayor Tom Bates said: “It must be one of the most beautiful places on the planet”, and cited “all the Phds” who lived there.