Proposed design restrictions

A battle over home-size limits, subdivisions and trees is pitting neighbors against neighbors in the city’s unincorporated Emerald Hills neighborhood.

It’s been 17 years since the county’s zoning ordinances and regulations governing the hilly, eclectic neighborhood have been updated, according to Sallie Martin, president of the Emerald Hills Homeowners Association. In the meantime, houses have started to get bigger.

“For many years, there has been a lot of unmonitored growth” and design, said Martin, who has lived in the neighborhood for eight years. “People are asking, ‘Can I paint my house bright pink?’ No. It doesn’t fit up here.”

The association is proposing a series of updated limits on home construction and renovation, including a maximum house size of 5,500 square feet and limitations on second-story additions, landscaping, tree removal and exterior colors.

But some in the neighborhood oppose the idea of establishing stricter limits. A new group, the Emerald Hills Community Coalition, is opposing the restrictions, which will be discussed in a neighborhood meeting Wednesday.

“This is an old high school dress code thing in the worst possible manifestation,” said Michael Mangini, a member of the coalition who has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years. “The neighbors are furious.”

If the new guidelines are approved, they will diminish the eclectic character of Emerald Hills’ 1,700 homes, according to Mangini. However, others feel that the construction of bigger, taller homes is also destroying that character, Martin said.

The homeowners association has submitted its proposals to the San Mateo County Planning Department. After Wednesday’s meeting, those proposals will go to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors for consideration, according to Lisa Grote, planning director for the county.

The new guidelines were based largely on a document governing designs for one- and two-family homes in El Granada, Miramar, Moss Beach and Montara, which was last revised in 2004. Discord erupted over those regulations, too.

“There was discussion, and definitely some opposition,” Grote said. “Ultimately, it resulted in some modifications but, overall, the designs were approved.”

A county-sponsored forum to discuss the proposed zoning changes in the Emerald Hills neighborhood will take place Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Clifford School, 225 Clifford Ave., Redwood City.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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