Despite major reservations about a new two-story home that will soon go up on their Eichler-style block, residents of Richardson Court have withdrawn their appeal of the project.
Frank Ingle, who lives next door to the proposed house at 808 Richardson Court, is one of several neighbors who has opposed the two-story home, which he said would violate neighbors' privacy and clash with the rest of the block, where Eichler-characteristic glass doors, flat roofs and single-story homes predominate. It initially had many Mediterranean design features, including sloped roofs, stucco walls and columns in the front. It also had windows that looked into Ingle's bedroom and bathroom, as well as into the backyard of the another house, which has a swimming pool.
The house has already received the approval of the city's Department of Planning and Community Environment; Ingle's appeal of the approval was scheduled to go in front of the City Council tonight. But over the weekend, he and his neighbors reached a compromise with the Yuan family, who owns the Richardson Court property. The family agreed to make the second-story windows that face neighboring properties opaque and positioned high enough to prevent views into neighboring yards.
Also, because the appeal was listed on the council's "consent calendar," where a list of items all get approved with a single vote, it would have required four council members to pull it off consent for discussion a threshold that Ingle acknowledged is very high.
Given the challenges and latest revisions, Ingle decided not to move forward with the appeal.
"It's a compromise that didn't leave anyone happy," he said.
Ingle added that his biggest concern now is with the existing approval process, which he called the "root of the problem" in the neighborly dispute. Developers submit detailed plans before any real input is solicited from neighbors or city commissioners, Ingle said. Furthermore, city planners are "too elastic" in how they interpret design guidelines during reviews and are reluctant to demand major revisions once detailed plans are submitted. He also suggested that the city offer mediation services to resolve disputes over new developments.
"I think it would be a really good idea for the city to offer mediation between builders and neighbors at various appeal stages," Ingle said.