Update, 01.31.12: Both parties in the 2707 Rose Street case, which went to appeal and was heard in the First Appellate District, Division 4, California Court of Appeal in San Francisco on January 24th, are now waiting to hear the outcome. In the meantime Berkeley Hills Preservation group alerts us to its website which contains full details of its case.
Original story: Mitch Kapor is no closer to being able to begin construction on his new home in the north Berkeley hills after a court date set for tomorrow, January 10th, at which opponents to his plans were to have appealed a December 2010 ruling against them, has been moved back 14 days.
Meanwhile, Kapor, the philanthropist and founder of Lotus, and his wife Freada Kapor Klein — who received approval approved use permits from the City of Berkeley City of Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board two years ago this month to build a new for a 6,478 sq ft home with 10-car garage at 2707 Rose Street — have voluntarily agreed not to undertake any construction activities at the site.
The lot has, however, been cleared in anticipation of a possible build. The original home at the location, a 2-story 2,477 sq ft 1925 house, abandoned for many years, has been removed, as well as a garage at street level, leaving merely foundations in their place.
The Berkeley Hills Preservation Group’s appeal rests on the argument that the build will have “a significant effect on the environment due to unusual circumstances” (California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines [14 Cal.Code Regs.]), and therefore warrants a CEQA environmental review — something not normally required for the construction of single family homes.
The appeal describes the proposed home, for which blueprints have been drawn up by Berkeley architects Marcy Wong Donn Logan, as being “akin to an office building in both design and scale.”
A report produced by geotechnical expert Dr. Lawrence B. Karp stated that construction of the residence ”would entail extraordinary amounts of earthwork, including removal and shoring of 1,500 cubic yards of soil and removal of many trees.” Dr. Karp determined that such an excavation “had never before been accomplished in the project area outside of reservoirs or the University of California campus and Tilden Park.”
Immediate neighbors to the Kapors’ proposed home have been supportive of his plans, however. Writing on Berkeleyside on May 2nd, 2011, Digit Master Inc said: “I’m one of the neighbors of this project. As far as I know all of us are in support of this project. The former building was a source of much undesirable activity for the neighborhood. The people who oppose this project don’t even live on the same street! The new home, regardless of its architectural flaws/merits will not even be visible from these people’s home.”
That view was echoed by Rose St. neighbor who wrote: “I live on Rose Street and I think it’s great that they’re building a fine new building there. A large garage will keep cars off the street for bikers and pedestrians when they have guests. Sounds like a good plan, and a big improvement over what was there.”
Councilmember Susan Wengraf, whose district includes the location of the proposed build, has also said she would like to see it go ahead.
The BHPG will present its oral argument in the First Appellate District, Division 4, California Court of Appeal in San Francisco on January 24th. (Read the appeal document in full.)
Update, 01.10.12: Read also the appelants’ reply brief, served on September 6th 2011, following the initial appeal document of June 15th 2011 to which we link above. In the reply, the issue of the seismic safety of the La Loma overpass, built in 1958, and which is sited close to 2707 Rose Street, is raised by geotechnical expert Dr. Lawrence B. Karp.