Candileigh and Gary Monzo will soon lose the majestic view they've had of Mount Diablo and adjacent hills since moving to their spacious home in the gated Golden Eagle Farm community in the 1990s.
The Pleasanton Planning Commission last March approved a bid by Nagib Haddad to build a 6,841-square-foot home on a vacant lot next to the Monzos that will cut off most of that view.
Last Tuesday, the City Council denied the Monzos' appeal of that decision, and Haddad can now start construction.
Extensive staff time, the costs of consultants paid by those initiating and those objecting to these proposals and hours of public hearings before the Planning Commission and council are increasing as Pleasanton nears build-out.
Those with one-story homes are finding it less expensive to add second floors to their houses than move to larger homes. Empty lots, which are scarce in Pleasanton where developers have usually filled every available parcel when they built their tracts, bring loud protests from adjoining homeowners who complain their views and next-door open spaces are threatened. This was the complaint of Gary Monzo Tuesday night.
Upper Golden Eagle, and Golden Eagle Farm where the Monzos live, is on the southwest side of Foothill Road located behind a manned security gate and is one of Pleasanton's most luxurious neighborhoods. Located near Castlewood Country Club, the homes are custom built and large, ranging up to 10,000 square feet of floor space, with the few vacant lots remaining among the most sought after in Pleasanton.
Membership in the Golden Eagle Homeowners Association is required, with fees paying for the neighborhood's non-private landscaping, community pool, tennis courts and abundant open space. By special agreement, Pleasanton residents showing an ID can drive through Golden Eagle to Augustin Bernal Community Park, which is part of the Pleasanton Ridge.
These estate homes were built in the early 1990s by Lytton-Everett, with the Monzos moving to their new home at 8023 Golden Eagle Way. Monzo said they were inspired by the majestic views, particularly of the Mount Diablo range, and assumed any home built on the adjacent empty lot would be placed far enough back from the street so as not to obstruct that view. They were wrong.
Haddad bought the lot last year and had an architect design his new home, a two-story house on a 47,200-square-foot lot that slopes up from Golden Eagle Way to a heavily treed area that city and HOA design guidelines protect and preserve. Haddad, his architect and the city Planning Commission determined that to push the new home farther up-slope on the lot, thereby preserving Monzo's Mount Diablo view, would require too much additional grading and disturbance to the natural topography.
Commissioners in March and council members Tuesday night, while sympathizing with the Monzos over losing some of their view of Mount Diablo, concluded that the results of requiring Haddad to consider alternative design options would not outweigh the impacts created by any different design than recommended by city staff.
Adam Weinstein, assistant planning director, said the new home as designed will preserve the aesthetic character, vegetation and topography of Golden Eagle Farm and will be an attractive addition to the community. The Planning Commission agreed, voting 4-1 to approved Haddad's home, with only Commissioner David Nagler objecting.
The vote was the same Tuesday night with the council denying Monzo's appeal to overturn that approval, by a 4-1 vote with Councilman Arne Olson voting to uphold the appeal.
In closing, after more than an hour of back-and-forth commentary by Haddad and Gary Monzo, Councilwoman Karla Brown urged the two to make peace, saying,"I hope that as neighbors you'll embrace each other."
Perhaps they can embrace in Monzo's living room for a view of the front side of Haddad's new home after it's built.