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Apple VP Mansfield's proposed home draws flak from neighbors

updated 10:26 am EDT, Thu May 3, 2012

Project mired in review

A proposed home for Apple's senior VP of hardware engineering, Bob Mansfield, is generating a heavy amount of controversy and legal contention in the town of Bonny Doon, California, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Mansfield and his wife Andrea first filed in 2010 for county approval to build on 45 acres of a former quarry on a knoll. The planned home should measure 9,000 square feet -- though only 6,000 is above grade -- and include features like a basement theater and an agricultural roof, as well as outdoor amenities like a potting shed, four barns, and outdoor kitchen, and a herd of goats.

Some locals are said to object to the scale of the home, to the extent that a few have rallied behind an attorney who would also be a future neighbor of the Mansfields. Another potential neighbor is Jodi Frediani, who in the past has served as a forestry consultant to the Ventana chapter of the Sierra Club. The Mansfields are said to have taken some steps to counter the visual and environmental impact of their plans, for instance by using a vegetative roof, solar panels, and large cisterns, as well as avoiding building on the highest point of the property. At the request of neighbors the Mansfields even erected a temporary timber frame to display rooflines, but this still showed some visual impact.

Some people have accused the Mansfields of intentionally changing the design to avoid the county's "monster home" law, which imposes harsh restrictions on homes over 7,000 square feet. Land-use consultant Jonathan Swift, who is working with the Mansfields, insists that the Mansfields have not been trying to game the system. "Is that a game because we're building a house less than 7,000 square feet? I don't think so," he says. "Are you breaking the speed limit if you drive 64 miles an hour instead of 65?"

The Mansfields are said to have a host of consultants helping them, which have already produced historic, archaeological, biotic, and geologic reviews, among others. Aside from possible neighbors, though, the project is still facing concerns from groups like the city water department, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, the latter of which has claimed that endangered red-legged frogs could be on the property, though none have been seen so far. Other points of contention include the low taxes the Mansfields are so far paying on the property -- which they inherited after buying the ground in 2006, and amount to just $139 a year -- as well as the rules that enable those taxes, which ban most development but do allow the construction of a home.

The building project is still under review and no hearings are currently scheduled. Swift argues that the proposed home is actually much smaller than some in the area, even though the project's opponents have generated a list of homes showing average square footage to be under 2,000.

by MacNN Staff



  1. LenE

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Other people's business

    The propty used to be a quarry!

    If I were Bob Mansfield, and this somehow got denied, then I would turn it in to a mobile home park. When I lived in a more rural area, the biggest fear of most land owners was that neighboring land would sprout squatters in single-wides and double-wides.

    Envy is an ugly green monster.

  1. facebook_Michael

    Via Facebook

    Joined: May 2012



    classic LenE, classic!

  1. prl99

    Joined: Dec 1969



    For those who want to complain about the property taxes, go back to the passage of Prop 13, which allows the original owner to keep ridiculously low property taxes even while neighbors have to pay more. I'm not mad at the Mansfield's, I'm mad at the people of CA for still allowing this unequal taxation when their state is in financial ruin.

  1. aSevie

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Wow, this guy looks like Chris Farley's older, more responsible brother.

  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Envy & bitterness

    Sounds more like envy to me. People who can't afford a large home with a great view on many acres of land are envious of someone who can, despite all Mansfield's efforts to play by the rules. He could, however, make one more change. If he's paying about $3 per year per acre in property taxes, I think he could manage a bit more than that. Loopholes in the law should be used as an excuse to be irresponsible toward the community where you live.

    The 2008 election was supposed to be about 'hope and change.' It's become more about concealing a loss of hope behind a politics of bitterness and anger. California is a particularly nasty example of that.

  1. TomSawyer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Unless the property offers the best views in SoCal Mr. Mansfield should probably reconsider this project. Despite his property likely offering him a substantial buffer, he must factor in that these same litigious so-and-so's could be his NEIGHBORS!

  1. prl99

    Joined: Dec 1969


    wrong part of state, Tom

    @Tom, check the map. Bonny Doon is in northern CA, northwest of Santa Cruz. Northern CA takes up the top two-thirds of the state although most people I know say everything south of the southern end of the Central Valley is Southern CA, in other words LA and San Diego!

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This of course is about...

    the property taxes and envy. These people should get a life. "Red-legged frogs?" Who came up with that? My son left CA after 5 years saying "it was the most screwed up, immoral, and corrupt place he had ever been and he lived in Chicago too!
    My friends in Texas now tell me that the real CA idiots are now migrating to Texas and NO ONE (but the government officials) want them there!

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969



    CA tax law is a disaster on an epic scale, that's for sure--thanks, 1970s!

    But honestly, I do find such profligate displays of wealth distasteful. I have to question the sanity of building a 9000sq ft home. Or a 6000 sq ft one, for that matter. "If you've got the money" and all, but what do these people do with all that space? A theater is a chunk of it, I suppose, but since your twelve-car garage doesn't usually count in the square footage calculation, is the rest composed of immense formal dining halls, or are they just sticking on more rooms until it sounds big enough?

  1. Hillbilly Geek

    Joined: Dec 1969


    By the way

    How "fresh-faced" can a recruit be who joined almost a decade ago?

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