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Where's a code enforcement officer when you need one?

Original post made by John P. Johns, CPA, another community, on May 3, 2010

We'll find out. Below is a copy of a complaint of a zoning ordinance violation I sent via e-mail to Mr. Bob Cushing of the Town of Atherton.

I'll keep you readers posted when I receive his reply. If you are interested, you are welcome to contact him directly. He can be reached at:
Cell 650.333.0854


Dear Mr. Cushing

I would like to call to your attention to what appears to be a flagrant violation of Atherton's zoning ordinance. The address is 1 Emilie Avenue. I have brought this issue to the attention directly to the City Council, but have not received a reply.

It occurred to me that you, as the Code Enforcement Officer is both empowered and obligated to investigate this matter. Accordingly, I would ask that you do so.

Taking into account the accessory structure, I would estimate that this residence is approximately 6,000 square feet, or about one third of the size of the lot that it occupies.

Having conducted an audit of the building department, I understand that basements do not count against FAR limits. This residence does appear to have a basement. However, even taking this factor into account, it would appear as though the home is grossly oversized.

I also noticed that the structure does not appear to conform to Atherton's setback requirements.

I do not reside in Atherton. However if I am not mistaken, this fact does not disqualify me from submitting a complaint. If it does, then please advise me as soon as possible, so that I can bring this matter to the attention of a friend of mine who does live in Town and who is very concerned about compliance with the Town's zoning ordinance.

One other point I would like to bring to your attention. I recall speaking with you about what appeared to be another egregious violation of the Town's zoning ordinance back in 2006 when I was conducting my audit of the Atherton Building Department. I recall expressing concern that it might not be possible to hold the property owner accountable because the permit had already been subject to a final inspection and a certificate of occupancy had since been granted.

I recall quite clearly your response. You indicated that the Town could always place a deed restriction on the property, requiring that the property be brought into compliance as a condition of being sold in the future.

By copy of this e-mail to the City Attorney, I would like to inquire ask you (or her) to whether what you have indicated is in fact true.

Finally, upon completion of your investigation of my complaint, I would ask that you send me a copy of your report.

I would ask that you acknowledge receipt of this complaint and advise me whether it will be necessary to make a public records request for your report once it is completed.

Thank you in advance for your reply.


John P. Johns, CPA

Comments (4)

Like this comment
Posted by arlan sampson
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on May 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I appreciate someone taking the time to lodge a formal complaint. I have been by the property many times since it was built as I drop my daughter off at school.

The dwelling and accessory structure are out of character with the neighborhood and far too big for the lot. It is beyond belief that the Planning Commission would have approved such a monstrosity.

Like this comment
Posted by olivia cromwell
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 3, 2010 at 10:08 pm

It is most certainly time that someone did something about that property.

Like this comment
Posted by attentive one
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 3, 2010 at 10:10 pm

At the April 7th meeting Joe Lewis called it a remodel. Unbelievable.......

Like this comment
Posted by size matters
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 3, 2010 at 11:31 pm

To Arlan Sampson
The Planning commission NEVER DID approve it.
It was built in complete defiance of the rules.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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