Design-minded ‘police’ divide community

Residents of the tiny unincorporated community of Emerald Hills split over whether their homes should be monitored by “style police” will reenergize a lengthy clash today.

The area west of Redwood City’s homes falls under guidelines suggested by a design review district and formerly a design review committee under the umbrella of San Mateo County, referred to by vocal residential opponents as the “style police.” The anti-regulation neighbors gathered 1,000 signatures from the community’s 1,700 homes to shoot down an attempt to make those guidelines legal code.

But supporters of the guidelines say it helps preserve the area’s rural feel and aids in the fight against “monster homes.”

The meeting tonight will allow the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to gauge the community’s interest in changing any guidelines or reinstituting the design review committee on Jan. 1, Supervisor Rich Gordon said. If a consensus is reached, the Planning Commission and then the Board would have to approve changes.

Resident Nancy Mangini, who was one of three people on the defunct design review committee, said the committee was doing more harm than good and cost homeowners too much money. Mangini is leading the anti-guidelines group called the Emerald Hills Community Coalition, which she said will be in full force at the meeting just as it was when it helped deny the codes in May 2006.

“It’s kind of an instant replay of last year to see if the community still cares, andwe do,” said Mangini, whose group voiced frustration today about sending a message it believes has already been delivered.

But not everyone agrees. The Emerald Hills Homeowners Association originally backed the guidelines and wanted them made into codes last year before their plans were thwarted by the community coalition.

Supporters such as former homeowners association President Carolyn Chaney claim neighborhoods with a design review process led by residents and professionals such as architects maintain their property values well.

Furthermore, the regulations would fend off “mayhem” and “rampant building with little structure,” said Sallie Martin, also a former homeowners association president.

The board has no opinion on the disagreement but simply wants a consensus to be reached, which is where the meeting comes in, Gordon said.

The guidelines themselves run the gamut from color and size of homes to what sort of gardens, fences and second-story additions are allowed. These suggested plans have not changed since 1990.

The hearing will be facilitated by the Peninsula Conflict Resolution center and held at Clifford School from 7-9 p.m.

Examiner Staff Writer Beth Winegarner contributed to this report.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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