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LAH approves 49ers CEO's cabana -- with tweaks

Jed York can build his pool cabana, but the roof’s going to be a tad lower than the San Francisco 49ers CEO anticipated.

Despite opposition from some of York’s neighbors, Los Altos Hills’ Planning Commission Thursday unanimously approved York’s plans for a 756-square-foot pool cabana adjacent to his 9,000-square-foot home off Altamont Road.

“We’ve been working on this project for four or five years,” York said, addressing the commission. “This is where we want to spend the rest of our lives...This is something we’d like to be at, again, forever. We love the town of Los Altos Hills, we love our house, and we hope we can move forward.”

York
49ers CEO Jed York, left, confers with his cabana architect during his comments to the Los Altos Hills Planning Commission Thursday.

York can proceed with his plans, but the roof of his single-story cabana must be a foot and a half lower than originally designed, commissioners decided. He also must submit a landscape screening plan to mitigate the project’s visual impact on the neighbors.

Nobuko and Gary Cleary of Silent Hills Lane live behind the 4.6-acre York property and claim that the view from their own cottage, which they use for relaxing and painting the views of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding environs, will be marred and their privacy intruded by the cabana. They requested the structure be constructed on the other side of Yorks’ pool.

But the location of the cabana is limited by a conservation easement recorded by the property’s former owner, Julie Eshner, in 1974, and granted to the town in 1998; no structures may be built on 40 percent of York’s property. And there’s also the matter of the concrete slab.

To fast track the housing project and address the neighbors’ concerns, the builder removed the cabana from the original construction plans when submitting the application with the town in 2012. The application was approved and the home constructed. By September 2015, the York family moved in. In March, the town’s building department approved the construction of a cement pad beside the pool, the basic footprint of the future cabana.

“Planning didn’t actually take it through any kind of site development process, which it probably should have based on what the history of the project was,” said Steve Padovan, town consultant planner. “But it did get approved and it was built as just a patio pad.”

York filed his application for the pool cabana structure – complete with sauna room, meditation room, steam room, massage room, lounge and a pizza oven – in July.

“We were shocked and dismayed when we found out that they did apply in building the cabana – the cabana which they promised us they were not going to build,” Nobuko Cleary said. “(The) cabana is only 30 feet from our boundary line.”

Compromise

Although several Los Altos Hills residents wrote letters and voiced support of the Clearys’ situation, Planning Commissioners – some of whom visited the story pole-marked site – characterized the view impact as “modest” and said moving the cabana location doesn’t make sense considering the property’s constraints.

“I do think the Clearys have a great view of the bay, which they continue to have, but from what they describe as their cottage, I can see what they are saying about having a minor obstruction to what they call their views,” said Kavita Tankha, commission chairwoman. “And I think there’s a compromise out there if the Yorks would be willing to reduce the ceiling height of the cabana.”

After the hearing, the Clearys said they were disappointed by the decision. Still, Nobuko Cleary told York “congratulations” and attempted to shake his hand as he left. He did not oblige.

“I’ve had enough,” York said, rushing past Cleary.

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