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.