Golden Eagle couple losing good views of Mt. Diablo

City Council OK's new house on adjacent lot that will block view

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.

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37 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jun 8, 2015 at 8:09 am

The last line of this article is totally unnecessary and unprofessional. This is what passes for journalism these days? Disappointing.

18 people like this
Posted by What was the objective here?
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Jun 8, 2015 at 8:20 am

This article is totally biased, especially the closing sentence. "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." Really? What was the author's objective in writing this non-news piece? It appears the project was evaluated thoroughly and property right assumptions were to blame. If there are learnings here, it's that if you're buying next to a vacant lot in an exclusive subdivision, you should address the issues instead of making assumptions.

9 people like this
Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2015 at 8:50 am

Let them build their home. The Monzo's were allowed to build theirs....this is a free country.

3 people like this
Posted by Rick Altman
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jun 8, 2015 at 9:11 am

The question has been asked rhetorically -- "What was the author thinking when he crafted the last sentence?" -- but I would like to ask it earnestly. I would like to ask Mr. Bing what his objective was in finishing his sentence the way he did. Was it a plea for peace among neighbors? Or something deeper?

11 people like this
Posted by Formerly Dan from BC
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jun 8, 2015 at 9:12 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

I don't understand the tone of this piece? Is it sympathy or sarcasm?

Is this really news? So the Monzo' view is blocked. So what?!

10 people like this
Posted by Golden Eagle
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Jun 8, 2015 at 9:35 am

There were a number of comments posted previously. Where did all of those go?

13 people like this
Posted by no guarantee of view
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 8, 2015 at 9:37 am

What is their point exactly? If they did not want their view blocked they should have purchased the other lot. Bunch of entitled cry babies. And why is Jeb writing as if they are so horribly wronged by a neighbor who has played by all of the rules? Is Jeb related to these people or does he have some other reason to paint the new home builders as evil?

9 people like this
Posted by CJ
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2015 at 9:44 am

Anyone who drives through Golden Eagle can see the mess some of these "custom" homes are! Some are absolutely hideous but they all have a right to build it within the guidelines. Sad but that's the way it goes.

8 people like this
Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jun 8, 2015 at 10:16 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

Hey Jeb, Where did my earlier comment go?? It was a masterpiece.

13 people like this
Posted by carlos
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 8, 2015 at 11:17 am

They buy property with a view across a vacant lot and complain when the lot is built on? This is news worthy?

8 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2015 at 11:44 am

Further adventures in the bad taste of the very wealthy...

13 people like this
Posted by Not Rocket Science
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2015 at 11:50 am

Simple fact:
If you buy a lake view property set one block back from the lake with a vacant lot in front that is for sale, you will at some point in the future lose that lake view! Unless you buy that vacant lot too. In this same way views of Mt Diablo are not protected. Embrace and move on.

14 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2015 at 11:58 am

These people should be embarrassed for wasting the cities time on this. What entitled jerks. This article is ridiculous and I have no idea why the PW even wrote it. Is there nothing else going on around here?

11 people like this
Posted by no guarantee of view
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm

"Further adventures in the bad taste of the very wealthy"

Too true. Has anyone seen a single brown lawn in that community? Of course not, they just waste the water and pay the fines. If Pleasanton had any cojones they would cut off water for those who exceed the limit. As it is the rich and entitled folk in Golden Eagle and Ruby Hill just p### it away and suffer nothing for it.

This complaint about losing "their" view is so telling. The rich cannot ever be satisfied, this is a fine example. Next time take your crying somewhere that you can find a sympathetic audience. Like your golf club or homeowner meetings. The rest of us care about real issues.

4 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 8, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Point is council will not limit anything. How big is their pool? Recycled water? Sure, just like at our local golf courses. Preserving our views is important, and a new neighbor would have considered this...thanks for keeping us up on local events Jeb

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