By the slimmest margin of 2-1, the appeal application for a proposed teardown at 1400 Circle Drive was denied with Mayor Steve Talt and Vice Mayor Steven Huang voting in favor and Councilmember Ken Ude opposing the project. Councilmembers Susan Jakubowski and Gretchen Shepherd Romey recused themselves from the proceedings. having opposed the project at a meeting on May 21.
The development called for demolishing the existing home and building a new 6,531 square foot, two-story residential structure with an attached four-car garage.
“We fully expect them to file a lawsuit,” Talt told The Tribune after the meeting.
Ude also supported his position.
“My instinct is to support what the Planning Commission decided on these matters and I certainly did not see any reason not to approve their recommendation for this project,” Ude said.
The council chamber was filled with supporters for the project. Cheers responded through the room and into the crowded hallway when several people spoke on behalf of the application.
San Marino resident Cole Harris, who had a heated exchange with Talt at a June 11 meeting, told the council members and attendees that if Bob Hope’s house in Burbank is not considered a historical home, why should this one in San Marino be of historical value? Harris added that the neighbors are infringing on someone else’s rights and that the application is a reflection of taking away individual freedom.
A resident since 1994, Kaili Wang said the city has some of the strictest building codes in the state, yet the application was approved by the planning department.
Shirley Jagels said this is not an argument about the historical importance of the project but whether it is compatible with its surrounding area.
“You serve the community,” she told the three council members.
There were no comments from councilmembers and the final 2-1 decision denying the application was quickly made.
At a June 11 special meeting, Stephen Gleason, the owner of the home next door at 1380 Circle Drive filed an appeal opposing the changes, citing the current house’s historical value. The issue of whether the home should be considered of having historical value has been a hot topic since the day the application was filed with the city in Sept. 2017.
It was found that the new project would replace the Finkelhor House in its entirety and, although the new house would feature a similar Italianate style, its new configuration and position on the property would negatively impact the neighborhood.
The Planning Commission originally approved the design review application for the development of the new home but its decision was appealed by City Council who reviewed the matter at a public hearing held on May 21 and June 11. Council then directed the staff to prepare written findings in support of denying the application.