Real EstateReal Estate

Lotus founder may yet build his Berkeley home

A model of the home Mitch Kapor hopes to build at 2707 Rose Street in north Berkeley.

A group of north Berkeley residents who are trying to prevent Lotus founder and philanthropist Mitch Kapor and his wife from building a new home in the city lost their case which was heard in the Alameda County Superior Court early last month.

On Thursday, Judge Frank Roesch ruled against the Berkeley Hills Preservation (BHP) group whose attorney, Susan Brandt-Hawley, had argued that the city of Berkeley should not have given Kapor approval to build a 6,478 sq ft home on his property at 2707 Rose Street without first ordering an Environmental Impact Report, as legislated under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Normally, the construction of single family homes does not require a CEQA report. BHP argued that an exception should be made in this case on the grounds of unusual circumstances, historial resources and cumulative impacts. In his December 30 ruling, Judge Roesch said that he had not found sufficient evidence that any of these exceptions applied.

“We are disappointed,” said BHP member Susan Nunes Fadley.


Brandt-Hawley said she will be convening with BHP to discuss whether they want to appeal the ruling. “It is something we are considering,” she said. The group has a 60-day window in which to lodge an appeal.

Mitch Kapor’s attorney, Amrit Kulkarni, said he his clients were pleased the judge had made the right decision. “We would like to bring this matter to a close. It has been a lengthy legal process that has inhibited my client from building his own home,” he said. Asked whether he expected the BHP group to appeal, he responded: “I would be surprised if they continued legal proceedings, but if they do we are prepared to fight.”

Mitch Kapor’s application to build a new house, designed by Berkeley architects Marcy Wong Donn Logan, on Rose Street was initially approved by Berkeley’s zoning board in January 2010.

See also: Berkeleyside’s coverage of the Rose Street case.