Saturday, April 29, 2017

Rosebay homeowners win lawsuit over 2nd-story addition

Last year we brought you the story of a young family planning to build a very modest 2nd-story addition to their home in the Rosebay neighborhood.  Wealthy homeowners in the gated community on the hill above Rosebay filed suit to stop the addition even though 1) the property is zoned for two stories, 2) Encinitas doesn't have a view ordinance, and 3) even if there was a view ordinance, the small and distant addition could not reasonably be seen as blocking the plaintiff's view.



Today we have some happy news from the remodelers!

- In part because of the lawsuit, which required us to dip into our savings and emergency fund, we spent ~4 months changing banks, refinancing, and negotiating for a larger construction loan. Luckily, and because of our good credit history, this worked. We just kept our fingers crossed that we wouldn't get sick or lose our jobs. Fighting this has cost us tens of thousands of dollars. Although this is likely less than the Hedman's on West Bluff have paid their lawyer over the past 1.5 years, they clearly can afford to throw good money after bad whereas for my husband and I, it was a major decision to fight. We decided to fight because we love where we live, and we have a right to do this by the letter of the law.

- We started construction April 1, which was before we knew the outcome of the case. We didn't have a choice because otherwise we would lose our General Contractor (as he would have move onto other projects). We had waited as long as we could. We were confident they would lose but it has still been a nerve-wracking month. It was a good month though as our son turned 1 year old! It's crazy that it has been a year since the Hedman's sued the city and served us papers.

- We found out the judge ruled in our favor this past Thursday. I broke down in tears of joy at my office (pics attached :) It was a weird feeling after awhile though - it's more like relief. Yes, we won but really we just prevailed and survived. This should have never happened in the first place. Unfortunately we can't recoup our lawyers' fees due to the Anti-SLAPP law, which normally serves to protect people like us from having to pay developers' lawyers' fees were we to lose a case (i.e., the roles are normally reversed). We knew this going in but it still bothers me.

- There is a slim chance they will appeal this ruling, which would drag this out at least another year, and cost us more money. However, hopefully they aren't that delusional as the judge ruled strongly against every argument they tried to put forth (e.g., there is no public view obstruction). In fact, if you go walk the trail, it is difficult to make out our new roof line from among the trees (pics attached). If they are crazy enough to appeal, we are going to do a fundraising effort so that our neighborhood can come together and fight on behalf of all of our interests, which is defending our neighborhood's right to improve our homes, and the value of our properties. Not a day goes by where I don't remind myself that a small minority live in 3,500 square foot homes (like the Hedman's) while the majority live in homes much smaller like us. I've worked incredibly hard my entire adult life to get to where I am today, and I'll be damned if someone is going to try to use their money to bully me. We did everything according to the City's rules and regulations; we didn't ask for a variance; and we aren't flipping the property. This is our home.

- A silver lining in all of this is that we have met a lot of new neighbors, and most people have been unequivocal in their support for us, and our project. Obviously not everyone is stoked on the project but most people are, and it feels good to have that support after everything the Hedman's have put us through. We have also been fortunate that we are living next door during the remodel. Our neighbors are retired, and are fixing up another home while renting to us. It's crazy lucky that this happened but at the same time it speaks to the homeowners in this community, and how much we all support each other.

- We want to thank the community for rallying behind us, and for bearing with us through the dust and noise of the final framing etc. that should be done soon!

65 comments:

  1. congrats. now go grow some bamboo and completely tick them off.

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  2. Plant a Torrey Pine Tree. Slow growing, not a water hog, and will give some nice shade in years to come. Also blocks view into and through your property by the uphill yuppies.

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  3. Paint WE WON YOU LOST on your roof.

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  4. And for the record, Marco Gonzalez of Coast Law Group was their lawyer who won this case. Everett Delano represented the Hedmans who lost

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  5. This family knew the neighborhood they were moving into and what they could get away with.

    That some longtime residents thought there were protections preserving the character of that community, was their mistake. Those protections and standards had long expired and were not renewed. If the locals had done so, there might have been a case against adding second stories.

    Of course, our own dark knight was called upon. That decision alone by the new homeowners says enough about them.

    Mark up another one for Marco. The neighbors had no defense, since any restrictions had long expired. Easy pickings Marco. Another neighborhood that had once been a haven for retired folks, goes down the tubes. No stopping the second story expansions to come. The neighbors will have to get used to it.

    May this be a lesson to any other neighborhoods, if there any any left to defend.

    The city's claim that community character has any consideration, is worth about as much as those words are.

    Planning has no concept of preservation. Just maybe with the recent 'reorganizing' , there could a changing of the Planning Depts. standard operating mindset.

    I can dream.

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    1. Isn't it a right of a property owner to do something if they want to. Community character? What exactly is the character of this area?

      If you want something preserved... Buy it and protect it.

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    2. South Rosebay is turning into a ghetto, why anyone would put this much time, money and effort into half of a twin home is inconceivable. There is obviously another agenda which is why Marco got involved. This neighborhood is overrun with bullies and non-stop construction over the past 5 years. Of course everyone will want a second story now and it will just set off another wave of remodels. The character of this neighborhood used to be quiet, calm, friendly and lawful. Not anymore.

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    3. The Hedmans should also be advised Rosebay has one of the highest concentration of "organized stalking" sociopaths in this city. It's our "little secret".

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    4. 12:53 - we put this much time, money, and effort into it because we love our neighborhood. We walk/run on the trail at least once a day, and we are good friends with our neighbors. We also put this much effort into it because my Dad (a contractor who lives in LA) designed the remodel - we passed off his drawings to JLC Architecture.

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  6. To the contrary, the Pacific Serena neighborhood was built in the 1970s as a neighborhood of modest homes, with a 25-year deed restriction to Seniors. By now most of the original owners have gone to other pastures and this tract is open to newer buyers who are able to rehabilitate these homes. This place still provides lower cost housing, something that Encinitas needs more of. The newer million dollar plus homes do not come with any ownership of airspace above the properties in Pacific Serena.

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    1. 11:06 AM
      Please give a definition and example of ownership of airspace above the properties.

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    2. Negative servitude.

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  7. Yes, a massive thank you to Marco and Coastal Law Group. They did an incredible job representing us, and care a lot about the community. Also, if anyone wants a great Architect firm or GC we highly recommend Markbuilt Construction and JLC Architecture!!!

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  8. In five years they're sell the place.

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    1. Ummm, I'm the home owner, and no, we won't.

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    2. G- No offense but since you must be new to the area, praising Marco is a little like praising any other high price lawyer with no scruples. He gets what he wants, and everyone pays or else.

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    3. I've lived in north county for 10 years, and we've owned our home for 8. Not sure if you consider that "new to the area." I've gotten to know Marco pretty well, and I think he is a good guy, and good at his job. You can disagree with my assessment, of course, but your opinion is your opinion, and my opinion is my opinion. A pretty silly back and forth to have via asynchronous communication channels such as blog-post comments.

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  9. So you say for now.

    Once a neighbor goes up and blocks your view, if there is any to defend, or blocks the prevailing breeze from providing any natural relief, to where half the year you are sun blocked. ....

    Never mind, whats the point? You got yours, Marco got his way, thanks to you. There was no defense for the neighborhood, since they did not make sure the original standards were continued to enforce the original intent of our neighborhood.

    What you have on your head, is that you have opened the way for your whole neighborhood to be 'improved' to match your ideals. There will be no stopping this 'progress'. Enjoy it while you can. When someone goes up and affects your property, rest assured there will be little sympathy.

    You own it, and much more than your property line.

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    1. You sound pretty angry, and I understand not everyone supports what we did. I also know that you don't know me, so it's pretty silly to engage in a back and forth on what you think our family's future actions will be. I can say that I grew up in a trailer for 10 years (a very small space), and moved 5 times after that so I'm full of gratitude and happiness about my home today. And I support our neighborhood improving their homes as they need/want. We are all in this crazy thing called life together.

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    2. Wow 2:03. I find it quite ironic all the people taking the side of the McMansion plaintiffs in this lawsuit, claiming that they care about preserving the neighborhood character of 1 story houses, while the plaintiffs here live in a much larger, 2 story home.

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    3. 2:03 Careful, you don't want to get put on the "angry list". The Hedmans are already on he "delusional list". Once you are the list the criminals in this neighborhood don't stop harassing you until you are arrested, institutionalized or dead. I speak from the experience of being a victim of it. Unfortunately for them I am still here to warn others.

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    4. Me thinks meth was a problem for some of these older residents. A lot of this sounds like ranting from crackheads based on fanatasy.

      Thanks for the warning us 8;27. Now put the crack pipe down and open the blinds, you can use some sun.

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    5. Bonus points for originality! I worked hard to buy my first home here too, which is smaller than the addition being discussed here. No I don't do drugs but a drug dealer neighbor was arrested last month because that's the kind of trash moving into this neighborhood. Maybe he's a friend of yours?

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  10. In five years they will sell the place and move to an HOA regulated community.

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  11. Just out of curiosity I drove by the house today and for cryin' out loud, the house that was suing is 1/4 mile away. I moved here in 1981, and Pacific Serena was sterile. Campy, yes, with all the colored rock gardens it was very "outsider art" looking, but now it is really a welcoming neighborhood because people are landscaping their yards. Anyway, even tho Marco's rep here in Encinitas is dog meat, I would hire him in a second if I had a fight something like this. As for 2:03PM, why don't you do what I did and look at the place. It's not a McMansion at all, but it's more fun to be a bitch behind a keyboard isn't it?

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  12. Our protection is just Proposition A, limiting building heights (but not trees) to 30 feet. If the uphill folks want to sue someone and have a written view promise from whoever they bought it from then then that's their case. Otherwise they are just wasting time and money are risking a countersuit for being stupid.

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    1. Prop A doesn't save all, does it?

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  13. There are other ramifications with this 2 story addition. The development was originally for seniors as a single story. Seniors can usually stay in their homes if the home doesn't have stairs as in the two story. Seniors will be pushed out of this more affordable neighborhood with additional stories added to most of the homes.

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    1. Honestly, the first story footprint doesn't change. Why can't seniors live here anymore?

      Can't they can continue living on the first floor and keep the second story for guests/family.

      Anyway, a second story addition isn't what is going to keep seniors out of this neighborhood. It will be the home prices.

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    2. 8:00- As a senior I would like to address this. I have lived in my 2 story attached home since 1983. The 1st floor is 2 bedrooms and a bath. The kitchen and master bedroom are upstairs so it would be difficult to live downstairs and rent the upstairs. This is where those electric chairs come in quite nicely. When and if it comes time to sell, I am going to find a wonderful lower income family and price it so they can afford it. Since my street is mostly McMansions now, it will be interesting to see what happens. And I will fully enjoy it, as I am getting rather tired of people with a hell of a lot of money moving here and contributing nothing, except taxes. As soon as I wrote that, I know understand why Marco got involved. The people who decided to build to 2 stories must have a great deal of money to pay Marco's fees. As usual, with money you can do most anything in this town. That is why A and T are so important. A view ordinance will probably never happen, but at least we don't have to have a bunch of high rises.

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    3. This is the homeowner again. No, we don't have "a great deal of money" to pay attorney (Marco's) fees. I am a first generation college student who took out loans and got grant monies to complete my BA, MA, and then competed for and earned grants for a stipend while completing my doctorate (at about 20K per year). My husband has worked his way up in operations and logistics working for local companies such as Nixon, and has a good paying job. We have saved our money, lived within our means, and had to use our emergency fund and savings to pay attorney fees. Don't judge a book by it's cover. We fought for this because we believed in what we were doing, and because we love our neighborhood. We are going from a 900 square foot house to a 1,500 sf house. Seems pretty reasonable in my eyes.

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    4. 8:48- Since I happen to know what Marco charges, it's hard to believe his fees didn't diminish your bank account. No matter. I guess it doesn't matter much to young people anymore if older people are forced out because they didn't know to renew the agreement once made to keep it a senior housing development. No worries though. We will die off soon enough and you won't have to worry.

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    6. Oh, the cost hit us hard; no doubt about that. Especially given we had a newborn, and I was on part-time paid leave from work for 12 weeks last year. Luckily we didn't have to retain him for that long. And I think pitting this as a young-owner vs. older-owner is a false dichotomy. But I'm sure I won't change your mind as we exchange words in this virtual space. My parents are in their mid- late-60's and low income, and housing is a real issue for them too. Affordable housing is a chronic problem in San Diego, CA, and nationwide. But pitting my family adding a second story so my son can have a bedroom to grow up in, and I can have an office to work from home in is not more or less "valuable" or "important" than whatever stance you are making your argument from. We just have different vantage points. And again, it's a false dichotomy to pit young and old against one another.

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    7. G- I have no idea how long you have lived here but pitting young against old has been going on a while in Encintas. I am sure both you and your husband work hard and, in fact, you have every legal reason to fight and you did win. It just makes me sad. My own kids cannot live here, as we bought in 1983 when housing was very affordable in our city. So when I see young people living here, who are younger than my own children, I guess I get a little irritated. Not your issue, it's mine. You legally had every right to do what you did, and as someone else said, your name, who I don't know, and have no reason to learn, will just be another name in the many who have taken over a once an old hippy, art community and become a whole different kind of city. It's not one to my liking but I am sure I must be in the minority. As i said, no worries we will all die off soon enough.

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    8. We've lived in our current house for 8 years; we got lucky with the timing of our purchase (in the market at the time that is) and were able to buy this home as a foreclosed on home for 399K.

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    9. 9:24 Maybe someone else is picking up the tab or they got a break. I smell banksters behind all the changes in this neighborhood anyway. And yes they are impatient to get rid of all the original owners but not all of them are seniors. Gentrification is basically sugar coated fascism. I have lived all over this country and have never seen anything like the BS that has gone down in this neighborhood over the past 5 years. Everyone just turns a blind eye to it.

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    10. If you think this is gentrification? Move to L.A. The zoning restrictions were removed in the 90's at the behest of the then homeowners in the neighborhood. It was restrictive zoning, prohibited by... The Constitution! Imagine that if you can. Plus, twas' difficult to sell the homes. I looked this up several years ago. I went to City offices and asked, anyone can do that. There was another an exsisting 2 story home already. Full disclosure. I am papa G. I was builder. Grandpa G. was an architect. We went through this same sad B.S. We also prevailed. Of course we did. No view was impaired, no variences were needed, permits were granted as a matter of routine. We began construction and A#$% NIMBYS sued. We kicked ther ass-even w/o Marco! I have not met him, I want to hug him, The Planning Department, the Mayor and the City Council of Encinitas all determined (unanimously) that adding 500 sq.' to a small home was a benificial addition to the city that all of you love. Of course others will add second storeys, and for the same reason. To have a family and remain a part of the community. They will NOT block anyones view. As a builder, I can do trigonometry. this seems to be a good thing to me, and to the judge, the planning Dept. and the Mayor and City Council. If you disagree? Perhaps you just hate families. Children are noisy.

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    11. Wow, just wow. Get off my lawn you young whippersnappers!. People comimg here with jobs and starting families is just horrifying. Stupid people with money, that damn evil money, Satan's toilet paper! Sell your house for below market just to spite rich people is brillant! Your kids will be stoked on that, and still not able to live here. Do your kids have the same business sense?

      no old people are being forced out of anywhere. Old people maybe cashing out, not forced out.

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  14. 4:18pm you are correct. The residents absolutely failed in keeping the original intent of the development by not renewing the restrictions. Once gone, forget about it.

    G, I am not angry, and I have seen you at the council . You were able to take an advantage that few had paid any attention to until your action woke the longtime residents up.

    You have lead the way for the others to go into that neighborhood and they surely will follow. That is the way when residents don't maintain whatever protection they once had and do not any more.

    While we can feel for the neighborhood losing its original intent to provide single story somewhat affordable homes, that will disappear before very long. You had every right to be the one to go up. The property values will come to reflect the additions that are to come. Another neighborhood that once provided housing at a reasonable cost for our city, will be lost.

    You are not the first and certainly won't be the last. The focus on you will soon disappear and you will become just a memory, as the second story additions become the norm there. The older residents will be offered enough to move them out and everyone one of those homes will go up. At least two stories is still a limiting factor. Preserve Prop A and maybe you won't have multiple stories blocking your light and daily breeze. I hope you feel the same and will defend Prop A. Your chosen lawyer does not, so don't count on him if Prop A goes down like he hopes for.

    Enjoy your new home to be, and support our efforts to limit increased density and building heights without a public vote. It could be a factor some day that directly affects your new homes quality of life. Enjoy. You had every legal right to go up. Peace out.


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    1. "Enjoy your new home to be, and support our efforts to limit increase density and building heights?"

      pfft. Thanks for sponsoring the declaration. Now get off your high horse. You a city official?

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    2. The residents did not fail. They sued to have restricted zoning eliminated. They won. Long ago. Hello? Anyone in there?

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  15. Unless there is a future change in setbacks etc. it is not practical and cost effective to add what little is presently allowed going up. Unless you have very low property taxes, there are many areas of Encinitas that would pencil out much better. So think before going up in what was once known as geritol manor, it's not a very good investment and I doubt many residents will follow.

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    1. Are you sure about that?

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    2. Papa G. again. Sorry, but as a builder I can pretty much promise that the least costly way to add space is by going up. Foundations stay mostly unchanged, Roof, setbacks and etc. also. Must be why I built so many second story additions. All those clients were in on the secret wich has eluded you.

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  16. The only thing that is constant is change. In other cities with limited land resources the large houses have been repeatedly subdivided. San Francisco for instance has 3-story buildings that have been split into flats and those have been further subdivided into front and back units. California expected the building industry to use tools such as Density Bonus to provide more and smaller units but instead we have big houses on little lots and big developer profits, but at least they stay under our 30 foot limit. My point is that 25-year deed restrictions were nice but now this development is subject just to our R-11 zoning. This is a form of gentrification and we suspect that other areas of Encinitas are at risk. The reasonable thing would be to allow some form of urban renewal to increase land utilization but Proposition A makes this unlikely. Our success as a desirable city is also our curse.

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  17. Homeowners all over Encinitas have added a second story to one-story houses.

    Why is this one on Rosebay such a big deal?

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  18. Ever hear of community character and respecting the standards of most of the homes in your immediate area? I thought not.

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    1. In my immediate area, probably like yours, 9:19, there's a mix of one- and two-story houses. Some of the two-story houses used to be one story.

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    2. My house sits on an old avocado ranch. Maybe I should bulldoze it and re-plant avocado trees instead in keeping with community "character".

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    3. Oh yeah, absolutly. Then build a 2 storey treehouse.

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  19. Please, give the homeowners a break. These are modest 45-year old homes and are being maintained and improved. Some of them have added a 2nd story already and in the future more will follow. This is perfectly legal and it is expected that homes will evolve to meet the needs of today. Community character is not stuck in the past, it evolves.

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  20. Im putting on a second story as soon as I can afford it. Going to rent it out, like a grannyflat.

    The population doubles about every 40 years, deal with it.

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    1. 3:30 PM, here's a hot tip: Live in the upstairs unit and rent the downstairs unit.

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    2. 3:30, yes, deal with. Here's how: Slow Encinitas down and let the population double elsewhere. This is not a fait accompli.

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    3. "Let the population double elsewhere?" Camps?

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  21. Why are we even talking about someone doing a room addition?

    Somewhere, along the way, Encinitas residents lost it.

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    1. It's the social media age. Everybody is in everybody else's business. There's no privacy. The whole world has been made into a gossipy small town.

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  22. Congratulations. But please don't lump everyone in the "rich" neighborhood together as an Us vs Them. You had an issue with one family. The other residents up there are normal people who happen to live in a more expensive home.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I tried not to - I explicitly called out the Hedman's by name several times. I fully recognize that it isn't everyone "up there." They did make it confusing in some ways, however, as they hid behind a name "Friends to Preserve Encinitas Beauty," and even got a couple neighbors on West Bluff to write emails in opposition to the project that went into the city record.

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    2. One Hedman, two or more Hedmans. One Hedman's dog, bike, car or possum, two or more Hedmans' yard, view, pool or badger.

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  23. Clearly, this was the right outcome, both legally and morally.

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