County considers action on Emerald Hills changes

County officials say they will consider dropping proposed updates to design guidelines for the Emerald Hills neighborhood if enough residents oppose them.

The Emerald Hills Homeowners Association is urging a series of updated limits on home construction and renovation, such as “less boxy” design of second-story additions, recommendations for theplacement of solar panels and discouragement of solid fences. The area’s design guidelines were last amended in 1990.

A group of homeowners who oppose some of the guidelines, however, have been gathering signatures since Father’s Day weekend to protest the update.

Since then, they have gathered “many hundreds” of signatures and hoped to collect 1,000 by the end of June, according to resident Michael Mangini, who has accused the neighborhood association of becoming the local “style police.”

The neighborhood has about 1,750 homes.

The petition could go a long way toward defeating the changes, according to Mark Duino, a planner with San Mateo County.

The county oversees design review of Emerald Hills homes because the neighborhood is located in an unincorporated part of Redwood City.

“If a majority of the community doesn’t want this, then we need to know that,” Duino said.

Meanwhile, Emerald Hills Neighborhood Association president Sallie Martin said Mangini’s group is misrepresenting the proposed changes.

She says he is protesting a number of things — such as height and size limits — contained in the existing guidelines.

After a tense county-run meeting held to discuss the changes May 31, she is asking Mangini and others to meet with her and establish some kind of consensus — or truce.

“We’d like to start progress talks,” Martin said. “I’m going on faith that it will happen.”

A survey posed by the neighborhood association received 645 responses.

Of those, a majority supported the design updates.

But opponents maintain that the rules will prevent residents from building their dream homes.

“That’s probably not the intention of what these things were designed to do, but that’s what’s happening,” Mangini said. “So before we heap more on, let’s go back and fix it, streamline it, make it better.”</p>

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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