City OKs 2-story addition to Val Vista home | February 25, 2011 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - February 25, 2011

City OKs 2-story addition to Val Vista home

Council votes 3-2 against protesting neighbors

by Jeb Bing

After a two-hour-long exchange of words, Rodney and Trina Lopez won the City Council's approval to add a second floor to their single story home in the Val Vista community, but they probably won't be inviting the neighbors over for coffee after it's done.

Nor will they be welcoming Council Members Matt Sullivan and Cindy McGovern, who sided with the neighbors in opposing the Lopez bid.

Still, the Lopez couple won the three votes they needed from Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and Council Members Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Jerry Thorne to turn down an appeal of the city Planning Commission's earlier approval of the home addition. Besides a 1,038-square-foot second floor, the Lopezes also won approval to add 80 square feet to their first floor of their home at 6114 Homer Court.

Neighbors David and Stephanie Persin, who live behind the Lopez home at 6209 Robin Court, said the second floor addition would be an eyesore in a neighborhood of single story homes and would destroy their viewscape and block sunlight into their home. Others on Robin Court and Homer Court agreed, saying they are concerned about the potential "shadow impact" of the proposed project.

Six other speakers who live farther away spoke in favor of the Lopez project. They said the city has allowed second floor additions to 15 other homes in Val Vista and that to deny the Lopez project would be a disincentive for other homeowners who want to stay in Val Vista but want to add more space.

Sullivan, in supporting the appeal, said the Lopez home occupies a 6,521-square-foot lot, similar to others in the neighborhood, with 1,489 square feet of floor space, almost about the same size as the others. But with the additions proposed, the Lopez home would have 2,607 square feet of floor space with a 40% floor-area-ratio (FAR), nearly twice the FAR of similar homes in the area.

"I just don't think that size of a home fits into this neighborhood," he said.

McGovern pointed out that the proposed Lopez home would have six bedrooms and four bathrooms, all on a 6,500 square foot lot.

"It would be humongous," she said. "It's just too big."

But city staff and the Planning Commission said the proposed addition meets all of the lot use and other requirements in the city code and should be allowed.

"There's no restriction against two-story homes (in Val Vista) and other two-story homes currently exist within the area," Brian Dolan, director of community development, stated in his report recommending approval of the Lopez petition.


Posted by Melinda, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm

McGovern & Sullivan take their no growth attitude to a new low level. An approx 2,600 sq.ft. home on a 6,500 sq.ft. lot and .40 FAR is not "humongous" and to deny a homeowner the ability to expand their home just because "it's too big" is absurb. If it meets the zoning rules and the architecture is designed appropriately, then our residents should have the right to decide the size of their own home. A 1,450 sq.ft. home is small for many people and these two should understand the significant number of similar sized post-war houses will likely be expanded in the future. Sad that the City Council even spends time on these matters when big issues like budget, pension contracts, affordable housing law suits and the like should dominate.

Posted by st least they have permits, a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2011 at 6:24 am

These people did it the right way. Check the archives of this newspaper and you can read about the Victorian house downtown that has a detached garage/apartment that was built illegally. No permits, no variances and _not even close to meeting fire code_! The city watched this building go up and did nothing. The neighbors complained and the city did nothing. The neighbors finally got the fire dept and building dept involved and Hosterman/Sullivan tried to get it "grandfathered" in _without_ making the safety code improvements. Thankfully the building dept was present and objected to that. The owners have now brought it up to code but the fact is that a structure that should never have been approved -- and would NOT have passed the variance test -- is still standing.
You have no idea how rare it it for a homeowner to really do the right thing. At least the neighbors on this one had the right to object, even though they were overruled.
FYI, Sullivan has changed horses if he is only now voting to limit growth. He and Hosterman were the ones in favor of allowing the illegal structure to remain. (PW -- this is documented in your archives and city council minutes.)

Posted by Melinda, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Sullivan has always been a no-growth councilmember and voted no even when we needed the sales tax and property tax revenues. He only supported not applying the building code because it was a historic building.

Posted by Shawna, a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm

So the people who don't live there, voted for this project and the people who do live there and will be impacted by this project got screwed. This is just wrong.

Posted by st least they have permits, a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2011 at 4:47 pm

"He only supported not applying the building code because it was a historic building."
Not correct. The ORIGINAL house may have been historical but the ILLEGAL structure was built in the mid 1990s. Hardly anything historic about that. The building code applied then just as is does now, the city just decided to look the other way. Then Hosterman and Sullivan tried to make it worse by allowing it to remain as is.
I should add that the people who brought it up to code are NOT the ones who built the structure illegally.
It may make some neighbors unhappy about this Val Vista addition but how much worse would they feel if the neighbors built it without permits and the city just looked the other way?

Posted by Missy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Many neighbors in Pleasanton are just whiners with nothing better to do than to complain about everything under the sun. Mind your own business and everyone will be happier.

Posted by Missy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Val Vista is such a rundown neighborhood those neighbors should be happy that someone is investing their hard-earn $ into upgrading their property. If all those whiners really care about their neighborhood, they should try putting some $ into their homes and make the neighborhood more appealing. Otherwise, put a sock in it already!

Posted by justsayin, a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2011 at 7:41 pm

per Zillow, that house on Robin Ct is 2920 sq ft, 6 bdrms and 4 baths. It's ridiculous, imo, that the owners were trying to prevent the Lopez family from expanding.

Posted by I take offense, a resident of Val Vista
on Feb 26, 2011 at 11:04 pm dare you disrespect all the people who own homes in Val Vista. Run down neighborhood my behind. Many families in this tract have fixed up their 40 year old homes within the recent past. The economy has fallen and maybe some have not been able to continue what they started but please keep your opinions about it being "run down" to yourself. I am very happy in my $550K+ "run down" home and have wonderful neighbors. We don't need a 2 story home to be built in order to bring the values up. In case you don't drive through our area...2 story homes just look so out of place here and do distract from the asthetic of the neighborhood. If those people want a bigger home, why don't they go purchase one in an area that, according to you, is better than this run down hood they call Val Vista. I feel sorry for the neighbors who will have to look out and see that monstrosity in their back yard.

Posted by Missy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Geez...people are soooo easily offended these days. Take a chill pill!

The Lopez can get a great view of their "friendly" neighbor from their soon to be built second story.

Posted by Rude, a resident of Val Vista
on Feb 28, 2011 at 9:14 am

I love Val Vista it is one of those neighborhoods that feels like real people live. People who are hard working and relitively nice. I am sure it may be the same in other more affluent neighborhoods but Missy just to let you know, youmay live in a nicer area, have more affluent friends but I guarantee you that most of your so called friends may not really like you at all for who you are, because I surely dont like you and I don't even know you and i'm sure you could care less but moving forward you should look at yourself as trash.

Posted by Joey, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2011 at 9:38 am

Sounds like the 2 ladies on the Planning commission whining again because they don't like Sullivan and McGovern disagreeing with their decisions.

Posted by Rodney Lopez, a resident of Val Vista
on Feb 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Thank you all for all the wonderful supporting comments regarding my family’s journey to get our second story addition approved. This was an eight month process that should have only taken up to 8 weeks. Unfortunately the arguments that Matt Sullivan and Cindy McGovern used(home too large for the neighborhood), as their basis for trying to deny our proposed home, disregarded the fact that the home right behind ours is the largest home in the Val Vista community, even larger than our proposed home. This would mean that our home is not out of character for the neighborhood. We followed the zoning regulation rules and if the members have an issue with our proposed size (but not with the neighbors home size), then change the rule. The article also doesn't mention the list of modifications that we had to make to our plans/drawings to try and accommodate the neighbors. We even have to pay for the installation for a skylight for one of the neighbors. We know we did the right thing by going through this process and we also know that there are people out there who know how to abuse the system. During this whole process we have been very respectful to the three families that abused the process, but it was not returned in kind. We are very thankful that this project was passed and hopefully the neighbors will accept our continued offerings of good will.

Posted by M.I.A. Editing, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Just an observation on the story itself, not on the process:
the headline is misleading and/or downright incorrect. The article states that proposal was to add a second story to an existing single story house. The headline states that this was a "2-story addition". As always, judicious proofreading and editing would be helpful, PW staff. Thank you.

Posted by justsayin, a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm

.... you have to pay for someone's skylight? Wow.

Posted by Get your Facts Straight, a resident of Val Vista
on Feb 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

This article was not factual. In fact, the Lopez homeowners did receive support from their cul-de-sac neighbors on Homer Court. There was only one unreasonable side neighbor that did not agree (this neighbor originally agreed and then changed their mind). This family received supporting letters not only from one of the side neighbors but another neighbor in the court. There was also verbal concurrence from neighbors in the cul-de-sac. In keeping with the good relations within the neighborhood, they did not ask for support in attendance of the City Council so that no one had to take sides. I see that as a positive thing. If you read the original comments, these unreasonable neighbors did not want any future 2-story homes in the community. Therefore there was a tremendous amount of support from other Val Vista residences that came out in to speak on their behalf. These families are current residence that have single story home and live next to 2-story home and see no issues or concerns or they were actual 2-story homeowners who provided details that have are no issues with their existing single story neighbors about their home. Either way, there is harmony among Val Vista with existing 2-story homes. Also keep in mind, this family will be investing in their home - isn't that what we would want in our community?

And that is a fact!

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I've driven through the Val Vista neighborhood, and I think that a few 2-story houses in the area would make the neighborhood more attractive looking. Just my opinion. If the proposed house addition were really, really, out of character with the rest of the neighborhood (e.g., if someone wanted to make a house looking like a rocket ship in the middle of the neighborhood), then I would agree with those against making the addition. But a 2600 sq. ft. house on a 6500 sq ft lot? OK, 2600 sq ft is a large house, but not out of proportion with a 6500 sq ft lot.

I think that if I were a neighbor, I would support the addition.

Posted by Barbara, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Joey -

I didn't even see a mention of any Planning Commissioners in this article - where are you getting your facts???

Posted by Jim, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 2, 2011 at 8:42 am

I had to jump through hoops to get a 2nd story approved myself to accommodate a neighbor's opinion. It cost a lot of money to get drawings redrawn, etc. and engineering work done to support the structure in a different area. It was not even blocking his view in any way.

I can't believe the Lopez issue could not be resolved in a meeting with the planning department. It got escalated to the city council? Ridiculous.

Posted by It's not TOO BIG, a resident of Val Vista
on Mar 2, 2011 at 8:56 am

I see that this home is expanding to a 6 bedroom/4 bath home but the neighbors behind the Lopez Family have that same size, yet no mentioned that. Maybe McGovern should have been provided that information or did she overlook it because it was already built? Isnt that home out of character? It's unfortunately that the Lopez family did not dispute the plans of the neighbors behind them so that they could not built their "humongous home" or make them go through City Council and see if McGovern would make that same statement.

Posted by Look at the Location, a resident of Valley Trails
on Mar 2, 2011 at 9:04 am

I also drove by the home on Homer and Robin and I cannot believe the nerve of these neighbors. The Homer house is North of the rear neighbors so how is their 2-story BLOCKING their SUN? It won't. And what view is there?? Tops of homes and trees. These neighbors get the view of the Ridge. I would rather see that than homes and my nieghbors backyard and home. Maybe they need to get a life! These concerns are ridiculous and I agree this proposal should never have been allowed to escalate to Council. I would rather our Council handle more pertinent affairs.

Posted by M.I.A. Editing, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2011 at 9:36 am

The headline is still incorrect, editors.

Posted by Donna, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2011 at 10:09 am

I'm still floored because Stoneridge was definitely built to continue all the way through to Livermore, it's SO clear when you make the turn down the road and there aren't houses with driveway's on it, just a big median strip and stone, (sound?) walls on either side. That's another project where people didn't do their homework - clearly that road was meant to make traffic less congested.

Posted by June, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Its sad when a neighbor can dictate everything right down to the color of your house, the size of your window(s), where you plant your trees and when, etc. Im all for public input but when an addition or construction meet zoning rules, it should not be able to be appealed and delayed. I understand the appeal fee is a whopping $25.00 and the appellent doesnt even have to give a good reason other than it impacts me or I just dont like change. Then it gives Councilmembers like Sullivan and McGovern the opportunity to grand-stand for the disenfranchised and become saviors when frankly they dont even know how to read a plan correctly and interject their own personal opinions or experiences into the decision-making. Our Council should spend time on the BIG issues like budget, pension reform, funding for infrastructure, attracting business, etc. and not on planter boxes.

Posted by Cara, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I want to give Mr. Lopez my support just for his ability to spell.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 3, 2011 at 10:02 am

Perhaps if the Lin's had worked with their neighbors like this, the Oak Grove development would have succeeded without going to court. I think there's a lesson here. However, I also think the Lopez family was subjected to too much government "oversight".

Posted by Resident, a resident of Country Fair
on May 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I just saw this story on NBC Bay Area and missed most of the story so went online to find out what the fuss was all about. The real story here should be about homeowners purchasing earthquake insurance, especially when having a second story, and so near the Calaveras fault.

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