Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Developers in Los Altos Hills - Super Mansions and Protected Land

Los Altos Hills has long been a destination for the rich and famous to build high-end estates and small developments of luxury homes. It's an attractive destination for developers and private land owners. Los Altos Hills is facing a couple of issues right now; restricting home sizes and development of Hidden Villa.

Hidden Villa
Hidden Villa is a 1600 acre preserve and farm that locals have enjoyed for decades. A developer has proposed building homes within an area too close to a creek running through the land, in violation of county regulations. While not officially a part of Los Altos Hills (it's technically county land), development in the area is considered undesirable by many local residents.

In my opinion, development of the site is not in the best interest of the community and further work within the 150-foot setback is an affront to the existing residents. I understand that a developer has to maximize the use of the land but in this case the setback was known prior to acquisition. Developers need to work within the rules to as much a degree as possible.

Super Mansions
There's a 28,000 square foot home planned for Los Altos Hills that has become one of a few that residents are taking issue with. In some local towns where such homes are built, including Woodside and Atherton, the solution has been to build smaller homes and get the additional square footage through more buildings - effectively creating a compound.

My question to the people building these homes is; do you really need all that space? It seems to me that such a home is merely a statement of wealth and not need. In light of the social backlash of overpaid executives it might be worthwhile to take a "less is more" approach and build more modest homes.

I'm not against development at all. However, I see an opportunity for restraint and practicality.

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