Will Mitch Kapor persevere to get his Berkeley home?

It’s been a while since we checked in on Lotus founder and philanthropist Mitch Kapor and his attempt to move to Berkeley — indeed to build a new home for himself here.

As some readers will doubtless remember, late in 2009 Mr Kapor applied to build a 6,478 sq ft, contemporary house in north Berkeley at 2707 Rose Street, on a 0.68 acre lot complete with old house that he acquired in August 2008.

The city of Berkeley’s zoning department approved the application. A preparatory round of meetings undertaken by Kapor and his wife, Freada Klein, had secured the OK from the property’s immediate neighbors too. Plans for a striking dwelling had been drawn up by architects Wong Logan. All seemed good to go.

However a group of north Berkeley residents objected to the Kapors’ plans and made their voices heard, not least on this website. Berkeley’s decision was appealed but then rejected on review.


In May, a group of Berkeleyans brought a lawsuit against the city accusing it of failing to follow due process and conduct an environmental review of the property before reaching its initial decision.

This was a hot-button issue in our city. Berkeleyside published ten articles on the case and it generated a total of 210 comments — clearly a case of a community divided. Our story was picked up across the wires, including in the New York Times.

So what’s the latest? Well, the legal case is ongoing but, as City Attorney Zach Cowan tells us, that doesn’t mean there is much going on. Cowan says the record is being reviewed and he expects the case will be argued in January or February of 2011 — about one full year after the Kapors’ original application was approved . (One aspect worth noting: although the city is being sued, in these sorts of cases, it is the applicant, i.e. the Kapors, who foot the bill.)

So the question must be: will the Kapors keep up the fight? Just how much are they willing to do in order to have a home in our fair city?