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State court hears Mitch Kapor Berkeley home case

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The long-running saga of philanthropist and Lotus founder Mitch Kapor’s attempt to build a new home in North Berkeley landed at the California Supreme Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday this week.

At the Dec. 2 hearing, the Court heard arguments on whether the rules that exempt most proposed single-family homes from undergoing an environmental impact report (EIR) should apply to the proposal by Kapor, and his wife Freada Kapor Klein, to build a new home with a 10-car garage at 2707 Rose St.

According to Bob Egelko, the Chronicle’s courts reporter, at the one-hour hearing Susan Brandt-Hawley, a lawyer for the Berkeley Hillside Preservation group, re-iterated arguments that have been presented to Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board (which originally approved the project in January 2010), and the Alameda County Superior Court, which subsequently denied an appeal on the case.

Brandt-Hawley said that building a “huge home” in a “landslide zone,” which will also require extensive work to widen the roadway, should amount to unusual circumstances requiring environmental review. She cited testimony by the group’s expert witness, engineer Lawrence Karp. … Continue reading »

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News

Group challenging Mitch Kapor home wins appeal

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Plans by Lotus founder and philanthropist Mitch Kapor to build a new home in Berkeley, which have been more than two years in the making, have been put on hold following a court ruling in favor of a citizen group challenging the construction.

The City of Berkeley is to be ordered to conduct an environmental impact report on Kapor’s project, a reversal of a previous decision by the Alameda Superior Court which ruled that Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board had conducted due process in approving use permits for the Kapors to build a home at 2707 Rose Street.

The Feb. 15th ruling, by the First District Court of Appeal, makes Berkeley’s January 2010 decision unlawful.

In its appeal, the Berkeley Hillside Preservation Group argued that the project, which would see a contemporary style home (including a 10-car garage) built on the north Berkeley lot, should not be exempt from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Single family homes are normally exempt, but the group used expert opinion to argue that the construction would have “significal environmental impacts.” … Continue reading »

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Court date moved in next stage of Mitch Kapor home saga

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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 storyMitch 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. … Continue reading »

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Mitch Kapor takes first step to building Berkeley home

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Fifteen months after Mitch Kapor received permission from the city of Berkeley to build a home at 2707 Rose Street, the Lotus founder and philanthropist has begun to dismantle the abandoned 2-story, 2,477 sq ft 1925 house on the property, in readiness, one assumes, for construction to begin on his new abode.

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Protesters in Mitch Kapor case say the battle is not over

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A group of north Berkeley residents who are contesting the construction of a new home by Lotus founder and philanthropist Mitch Kapor on his property at 2707 Rose Street say they may move for a new trial after a judge ruled against them in December.

“The case is not yet over,” said Susan Nunes Fadley, a member of the Berkeley Hills Preservation group which has protested the bid by Kapor and his wife Freada Kapor-Klein to build a … Continue reading »

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Judge hears Mitch Kapor Berkeley home case

A model of the home Mitch Kapor hopes to build at 2707 Rose Street in north Berkeley. Photo: Marcy Wong Don Logan Architects.
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A long-awaited hearing was held on Wednesday morning at Alameda County Superior Court in a case that sees the city of Berkeley pitched against a group of Berkeley residents over a well-known software mogul and philanthropist’s attempt to build a new, contemporary-style home at 2707 Rose Street.

After the application by Lotus founder Mitch Kapor and his wife Freada Kapor-Klein to construct a new house on their Rose Street lot was initially approved by Berkeley’s zoning board in January, … Continue reading »

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Kapor Foundation supports diversity in science effort

Mitch Kapor: a stay has been ordered on his plans to build a home in Berkeley
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Mitch Kapor, the philanthropist and founder of Lotus, has not allowed the difficulties he is facing building a home in Berkeley to deter him from channeling his money into good causes based in our city.

The Mitchell Kapor Foundation recently announced a five year renewable gift of $250,000 to UC Berkeley’s College of Letters and Science to support the launch of the Berkeley Science Network (BSN).

BSN’s stated aim is to strengthen the pipeline of … Continue reading »

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Will Mitch Kapor persevere to get his Berkeley home?

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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.

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Urban planning

City of Berkeley sued over Mitch Kapor home

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A group of Berkeley residents has filed suit against the City of Berkeley for failing to act with due process when it approved the application, by Lotus founder and philanthropist Mitch Kapor, to build a new home at 2707 Rose Street.

The newly formed Berkeley Hillside Preservation group filed a petition in the Alameda Superior Court yesterday stating that the city had exempted the Kapor application from an environmental review that is mandated under the California Environmental … Continue reading »

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Urban planning

Mitch Kapor’s Berkeley home: From white to gray

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Notice anything different? A new image of the architects‘ model for Mitch Kapor’s proposed home at 2707 Rose Street has emerged. Seems as though someone has had a change of heart on the exterior hue of the home.

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Urban planning

Welcome to Berkeley Mr Kapor: Appeal is voted down

A model of the home Mitch Kapor hopes to build at 2707 Rose Street in north Berkeley. Photo: Marcy Wong Don Logan Architects.
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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 … Continue reading »

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Urban planning

Mitch Kapor’s Berkeley home: Countdown to appeal

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Item 17 on the agenda for tomorrow’s City Council Meeting is bound to draw crowds. It concerns the appeal to the zoning board’s approval for a new home to be built at 2707 Rose Street. The application was made in the name of Mitch Kapor and his wife Freada Klein.

You can read all about the application and the appeal in Berkeleyside’s extensive coverage of the issue here.

Seventy-three people have submitted communications in relation to the appeal, making … Continue reading »

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Urban planning

Mitch Kapor’s Berkeley home: The debate continues

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If this isn’t a saga, we don’t know what is. But it’s a live issue here in our city which many people feel strongly about. Hence our commitment to covering it as best we can. Here’s the story so far:

On January 28, Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board approved a plan submitted on behalf of Mitchell Kapor to build a new home at 2707 Rose Street. The approval is being appealed. The zoning board is due to hear the appeal on April 27.

Berkeleyside first drew attention to this issue on Jan. 25. The original application can be viewed here and drawings associated with the application can be seen here. The full appeal can be viewed here. We published an explanation of the thinking behind the appeal, written by architect Gary Parsons, here.

A group of neighbors supports Mitch Kapor’s proposed home. You can read about their views here. These views are challenged by another group of neighbors, whose opinions can be read here.

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) is supporting the appeal. Read BAHA President Daniella Thompson’s letter outlining BAHA’s stand here.

The letters we have received in the past few days touch on a variety of issues. Eight are published below (and you’ll understand if, for space reasons, we put a page break in this post).

Also worth noting: Berkeleyside has been in touch with Mitch Kapor himself who says he will not be making a comment at the moment as he doesn’t have anything to add to what Susan and Paul Opsvig, his potential immediate neighbors, and his architects, Donn Logan and Marcy Wong, have already contributed to Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »

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