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Stegner studio owner hires attorney

The Los Altos Hills homeowners who plan to raze the late Wallace Stegner’s writing studio to build a home on the property have hired an attorney to evaluate whether the structure requires a historical assessment prior to demolition, as urged by a national preservation group.

The town may also hire a consultant to determine the historical significance of the property, which one resident referred to as the “literary equivalent of the Hewlett-Packard garage,” according to Planning Director Debbie Pedro.

The lawyer for homeowners Yew Nam and Wan Lei Yong couldn’t be reached for comment. Pedro, who said Yong informed her of his legal step, said the attorney’s name would become public record once the town receives official notice.

While town officials were ready to fast-track the new development May 31, the National Trust for Historic Preservation lodged a late complaint alleging that the project required a full California Environmental Quality Act review prior to approval.

“Ultimately the town is responsible to uphold the law, as it risks being sued if it makes an environmentally damaging decision on a dearth of information,” Brian Turner, attorney with NTHP, wrote in an email.

Stegner, who died in 1993, moved to Los Altos Hills in the early 1950s after joining Stanford University as a professor in 1945. His work includes the 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angle of Repose.”

A group of Los Altos Hills residents interested in preserving the structure established a fund to underwrite the cost of moving the approximately 18-foot-by-25-foot studio, if the opportunity arises. Several locations have been suggested as potential sites, including Hidden Villa and a space next to town hall on Fremont Road, although no formal discussions have been conducted.

Les Earnest, spearheading the effort to save the studio, said he spoke with Yong, who agreed to allow the group relocate the studio provided it pays for the transport and removes it before the town approves demolition.

For more information or to contribute to the fund, visit www.losaltoshillshistory.org/Fund-Stegners-Study.html.

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