Tonight: Contentious rezoning issue in Atherton Atherton, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Apr 28, 2010 at 12:54 pm
The Atherton Planning Commission will review possible changes to the town's zoning code that will allow bigger houses on lots that are less than 10,000 square feet at its meeting tonight (April 28). The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 8:15 AM
Posted by figure it out, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Apr 28, 2010 at 12:54 pm
Gee!--I wonder how Elizabeth will vote?????!!!!!!!!
Just another attempt in a long list of efforts-- to rewrite the entire building code. zoning ordinance, and the city's General Plan--in order to legitimize Elizabeth Lewis' completely illegally constructed home.
The only element "of the greater good" here, is the fact that the changes will also benefit her constituents from the special interest building lobby, which she was installed on the council to represent.
If Parker warrants a little spot zoning--thats one thing--but letting a council member manipulate the entire system to save her own bacon and fry up a new batch for her campaign contributers is just plain wrong folks!!
Posted by John P. Johns, CPA, a resident of another community, on Apr 28, 2010 at 10:34 pm
In the e-mail below, Ms. Elizabeth expresses a willingness to answer questions about her home. This was when Ms. Lewis was a candidate for City Council.
Now that Ms. Lewis has been elected to the Council she has been silent on the matter.
I have forwarded this e-mail to each member of the City Council with a request that it be placed on the City Council agenda for discussion.
Perhaps her colleagues on the City Council could urge her to break her silence.
--- On Sun, 9/28/08, Elizabeth Lewis <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Elizabeth Lewis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: 1 Emilie Ave. Atherton CA
Date: Sunday, September 28, 2008, 7:03 PM
On Friday, Sept 26,I received a call from Andrea Gemmet the reporter for the Almanac News, wondering why you are requesting information about my home at 1 Emile Avenue (99 Alejandra) in your letters dated Sept 19 & 20, 2008 to the Town of Atherton.
I have no idea why you are interested in our home.
Will you please let me know what your interest is, and I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Posted by Colleen Anderson, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Apr 28, 2010 at 11:35 pm
Elizabeth came up with great ideas for smaller lots. Smaller lots should be rezoned out of the larger lots. Elizabeth went to a lot of work trying to come up with a fair and great game plan. There are 28 homes 10,000 square feet or less zoned in with the larger lots. Elizabeth was just trying to show fairness. My hats off to her for all her hard work. Once council saw the homes they agreed smaller lots should be taken out of the larger lots of R1A.
Posted by WRONG, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2010 at 12:29 am
Colleen, Elizabeth Lewis may have some great ideas, but she should get them ACCEPTED according to the RULES before, not AFTER, she builds her house in furtherance of these ideas.
I believe following the rules is important for this town. When a council member has a 6,000 square foot house on an 18,000 square foot lot (and I believe a full acre is required for homes this large), it sends wrong messages.
Wrong Message #1: The rules don't matter.
Wrong Message #2: "Special" people don't need to follow the rules.
Wrong Message #3: If you don't want to follow the rules, bring up the fact Elizabeth Lewis didn't, and try to bully your way into getting a variance for your rule breaking also.
Elizabeth Lewis and her friends can try to bully John Johns and anyone else who challenges this to shut up, but I can tell you that IN ANY NORMAL, WELL-RUN COMMUNITY, the issue of an elected community leader grossly violating the rules is highly newsworthy.
In this DYSFUNCTIONAL community, not only does Elizabeth Lewis not follow the rules, but when someone brings this to the attention of the council, she grabs the papers, and makes a beeline for the exit.
Am I the only one who thinks this is INSANE? This lady also was quoted in the Palo Alto Post Today saying it's oaky for her to stack Atherton committees with her campaign supporters since if she restricted it to people who weren't, no one would be left! What kind of arrogance is this? I guess the arrogance of someone who breaks rules, gets away with it, and will forcefully prevent anyone from even asking about WHY NO ONE CARES.
Posted by Colleen Anderson, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2010 at 12:37 am
The topic at hand is smaller lots being zoned in with bigger lots not Elizabeth Lewis home. I have been in her home and feel she did a brilliant job. It is very small & charming from the street. I never would have guessed it is 6,000 square feet inside. I love her home. However the subject at hand is smaller lots being treated fairly. Please lets not make this about Elizabeth. She is trying to do the right thing when it comes to fairness on smaller lots. Make another blog if you would like to take up her home. I am impressed with her caring enough to do the right thing with smaller lots.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2010 at 7:04 am
If you can't tell Ms. Lewis' home is 6000 square feet from the street, then you are blind. It is clearly way beyond what is allowed by the zoning ordinance. And if you think Ms. Lewis is pushing this smaller lot agenda because she wants to be fair you are at best naive and at worst a schill for Ms. Lewis and her dishonest agenda.
Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2010 at 8:58 am
No, Elizabeth's home is relevant to this issue. She has a home on a smaller lot also that may about to be rezoned through her vote -- retroactively -- and this is a conflicted vote. As WRONG said, this topic should get attention and not get deleted or swept under the rug.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2010 at 9:36 am
this is ALL about Ms. Lewis' home. The reason she is pushing this is so, retroactively, her property will be in compliance with the zoning ordinance. It currently is not. How it got that way is something that ought to be explained. Especially by an elected official of the town. Because the only way to contruct a new 6000 square foot home on an 18,000 square foot lot is to do it legally or illegally. The legal way is to obtain a variance, which she did not. Therefore it was done illegally. The town really needs to look into how Ms. Lewis was able to make that happen. Someone's palmed had to be greased.
Posted by chicken feed, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2010 at 10:22 am
Just because people who live on smaller lots are less likely to have the money to pay off corrupt politicians or corrupt building officials does not mean that they should be treated as second class citizens.
The setback rules for one acre or 1/2 acre lots do not make sense for lots of smaller sizes.
I say give em a break. If rules are reasonable, people are more likelhy to abide by them.
Posted by Colleen Anderson, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2010 at 1:58 pm
What Atherton is talking about is lots 10,000 or less. Elizabeth's home is on a much larger lot. I purchased my home in 1988. back in 1988 R1A could build 50% of there property. Over the years they have down sized R1A, and put on a 2nd story restriction that all the other R1A lots do not have. We are currently spot zoned which I don't think is legal. Thats why it would only be fair to make the smaller lots 10,000 R1B. Over 150 (it maybe even over 200 homes) homes on smaller lots are all R1B. When they change rules on R1A homes it drastically has effected smaller lots. All R1B would due is change our front & rear setbacks. I love Atherton, and have lived here most of my life. I am not a developer trying to make a buck. I want a garage and living space. I want to be treated fairly like the other lots in Atherton. Why is it that only a few homes caught up in R1A lots have a 2nd story restriction No other lots have. 28 homes in all of Atherton can only build 500 square feet upstairs. How is that fair.
Posted by No spot rezoning, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2010 at 5:01 pm
Colleen, unfortunately for you, Elizabeth Lewis has enlarged this issue by having an illegal house. Everyone knows that to have a mansion sized house in Atheron, with accessory structures (like her 6000 sq ft mansion and accessory structures), you need to have (and have paid for) an acre. She has less than half an acre. She cannot now use your situation as an excuse to retroactively legalize her house. The town needs to take action on that house. This is ridiculous.
Posted by CAN YOU SPELL OLIGARCHY, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2010 at 6:42 pm
Elizabeth illegal house is VERY relevant here --she should not be on the council at all with this baggage SHE HAS DRUG INTO TOWN HALL--she should not be voting on issues where she has such extreme self interest--such as voting on spot rezoning--voting to rewrite the Building Code, voting to re write the main General Zoning Ordinance (big fat thick book), voting to rewrite the Town's General Plan. Add to this she should not be voting to refund money on the Road Impact Fees, voting to refund money on the Off Haul Fees, voting to refund money on the Business Lisc. Fees.
AND PLEASE ADD TO THIS LIST SHE SHOULD NOT BE VOTING AT ANY ETHICS HEARINGS ABOUT ANYONE!!!!!
How much stuff does the town have to change in order to make Lewis ligit?
I don't care if she gets to keep the stuff she got away with--Just stop her from co-opting the entire town to suit her own purposes.
Posted by Colleen Anderson, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2010 at 9:49 pm
This isn't about Elizabeth she is a a much larger lot then the smaller lots. This issue on fairness doesn't effect her real estate at all. Stop bashing her on this blog, and focus on the issue of smaller lots. She has a much larger lot.
Posted by Colleen Anderson, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2010 at 10:43 pm
I just want another blog for it. i want this to be about fairness for smaller lots. My lot is 7,500. It's not even close to 10,000. If we make it about something else it changes it off whats fair for us, and makes it about Elizabeth. I have been in her home, and loved it. So people are I feel bashing me for this when they haven't even been in her home. Above ground there is no way its 6,000 sq. ft. It's like 4,000 in 2 stories. It's hard when I have worked so hard for fairness, and bonding in this community. I even started an Atherton social groups that meets to bring people & dog lovers closer together. I hope anyone commenting on the Elizabeths house has been inside, and seen it. I have.
Posted by Process, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Apr 30, 2010 at 10:54 pm
1. Elizabeth's above ground space is way more than 4,000 sq. ft. Look at zillow. It's close to 6,000 and that doesn't include the garage or pool house.
2. You are right that the under 10,000 sq. ft. issue could be considered separately. The problem is, as long as Elizabeth has this illegal house, it calls into question the process for any rezoning issue she votes on.
I would support her recusing herself from your issue. I would support considering your issue on its own merits. I would definitely support hearings into how her house got built and what can be done to put it back into compliance. I cannot support her driving an agenda to rezone smaller lots when she has one. I know it's not as small as yours, but in a town where almost every parcel is one acre, it is definitely a small lot.
It is absolutely reprehensible for a council member to have engaged in such flagrant violations of the building code and then to be voting on rezoning other types of small lot homes. It's a blatant conflict of interest.
Posted by spotlight, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on May 1, 2010 at 12:07 am
You guys need to move to bigger lots. You got what you bought. I believe you- that you now want more -but who doesn't?
If the town or a neighbor or a school for instance had radically altered some original understanding that they had with you, then I would be sympathetic to your right to keep what you had bought into,--but for you to just want more than you bought and to expect the rules to be rewritten for you is self serving--understandable maybe--but just plain self serving. The Town should not be expected to provide drive though window service for any and all appetites.
PS I want more too but I know better than to expect it.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on May 1, 2010 at 8:01 am
what was allowed to be built on your lot when you bought it? Was a second story allowed? If not, then you got what you bought. If it was changed after you bought, then the issue is a valid one to consider.
The problem with Elizabeth Lewis' involvement in this issue is that it is a clear conflict of interest. She has an undersize lot. She should not be voting on anything that involves an undersize lot. Even if her lot is larger than yours there is a clear appearance of conflict.
The other problem with her involvement is that she has clearly broken zoning laws to build her house. Given that she has zero moral authority to vote on anything to do with zoning without it being a conflict of interest.
I would suggest that if you want this issue addressed on its merits, you should ask Elizabeth to step away form the issue or at a minimum recuse herself from any vote on the matter.
Posted by colleen Anderson, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on May 1, 2010 at 9:59 am
In 1988 what was allowed was 50% of the lot, and a full 2nd story. I never got notices of down sizing or I would have fought it then. Many other homes on the street fit the R1B zoning. The house right next to me has a full 2nd story. They don't want someone else to have what they have. At one point they said every other house should 2 storied. I just want what's fair.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on May 1, 2010 at 5:53 pm
if, as you describe they changed the rules and did not notify then you have a complaint. I have a hard time with this as I get notifications of planning issues all the time, but different town, so maybe.
The point still remains - Elizabeth Lewis is NOT the council person to be pushing this issue and she needs to recuse herself from any vote on the issue. It is a clear conflict of interest.
And if you're wondering why people are attacking Elizabeth, it's because they are P.O.'d. They elect their council persons to a position of trust. It is pretty obvious Ms. Lewis has violated zoning ordinances and therefor is likely guilty of malfeasance. People get angry when their trust is vioalated.