Actually, size does matter. 135 Balboa Inverness Park

We believe that the unprecedented size of the proposed development by Hidden Dragon, L.L.C. at 135 Balboa Avenue is a call to our community to protect its scale and character. The proposed 5,494-square foot main house is more than twice the median size—less than 2,000 square feet—of all the properties on nearby Drakes Summit and Balboa. The house has three wings, which the applicants say they need for their extended families, which would visit for several weeks each year. A massive house rarely used is an unwarranted waste of precious resources; to call it “sustainable” and “green” renders these terms meaningless.

The proposed 8,297 square feet of buildings in the compound also includes a 750-square foot second unit that can only be accessed by going through a 1,316-square foot “art studio,” with five rooms and a full bathroom. These two buildings are connected by a breezeway, with the roofs only a foot apart. The second unit could therefore be interpreted as 2,066 square feet, with the potential for six bedrooms and two bathrooms and a two-car garage and nearly triple the size allowed for a second unit. Such a unit would render the countywide second-unit ordinance irrelevant, since one could build a studio of any size, as long as it doesn’t have a kitchen, and connect it to a second unit.

Owners Tim Westergren and Smita Singh have said they are building an environmentally sensitive home and that the 16.9 acre lot justifies a large home. However, only seven acres of the property can be built upon; the rest is protected by an 8.5-acre scenic easement adjacent to Haggerty Gulch and a 1.2-acre stream setback. This means makes the building to lot ratio much larger. Historically in this area, owners of large parcels have chosen to keep their homes small. There are six large properties within a half-mile, with an average building area of 2,365 square feet.

The scale of the project also involves cutting down much of the mature Douglas fir forest—46 trees, 38 of which are heritage, protected and native trees—and then “planting a new forest.” Size matters because the trees are dependent on one another for their stability and because the beauty of these trees creates a powerful peace. While those with unlimited resources can build their dream house, they may fail to appreciate what already exists, thereby destroying what was attractive in the first place.

With its numerous bedrooms, friends and colleagues could come and use the property as much as they like—swimming pool included. The wings and corridors also make it inviting as a retreat center, especially since all bedrooms and guest “exercise rooms” have their own bathrooms, suggesting use by unrelated occupants. Because of its size and the configuration of its rooms, a future owner could certainly take advantage of its business opportunities. The Westergrens claim they have “no intention of ever renting the property or using it for a business retreat… or other form of hotel,” and that they “plan to keep this property in the family . . . in perpetuity.” While we applaud these intentions, we question their ability to predict their family’s future plans with such assurance.

Size matters because if the county permits this project, it does so for use 365 days of the year—with its many bedrooms, 14 bathrooms and 16,000-gallon lap pool. Permitting a building like this on Balboa is especially egregious, since the 33 or so families who live above the project on Drakes Summit cannot be serviced by municipal water, and are instead dependent on private wells.

Size matters because the people who live here full time are also dependent on one another for their stability. We don’t have hotels and golf courses because many people have devoted countless hours to keeping that from happening. The proposed house looks a lot like those in Napa and Tiburon, beautiful places where huge houses are common and empty.

Size matters because it sets a precedent, and becomes a game of out-doing the next applicant who happens by. The next person will need to outdo the last, and can prove to the planning department that it was done in Inverness Park. It’s ludicrous to pretend a project of this size has no effect on the land it impacts. Leave aside for a moment the manufacture and construction of materials for the project (which are huge), and consider the digging, earth-moving, septic preparation, required parking, burial of water tanks and noise of construction, all of which will be several years in the making. The neighbors are not just human—this land is bordered by the national seashore and water district lands and is an active wildlife corridor that runs, interrupted only by Balboa itself, for at least five miles. To call these plans sensitive to the environment reveals how deluded the project is.

We sincerely hope the Westergrens, who seem to be socially conscious people who share many of our values, will listen to the community and will substantially scale their project down.   And perhaps we can seize this opportunity for creative dialogue with the developers, to help them see more deeply why we care about size.

 

We urge everyone in the community who is concerned about the unprecedented size of this proposed development to write to: hscoble@marincounty.org with your comments.

Nancy Stein

Mary Winegarden & Geoff Hoyle

Doug & Kathy Gower

Ron Wagner & Bonnie Ruder

Cindy & Ken Knabe

Maica Folch & Dan Barton

Christine Nielsen
Mary Jo Maendle

Cynthia Hammond

Isabel McCudden

Elan Whitney

Debbie Daly & Tim Weed

Andrew Bindman

Rebecca Smith Bindman

Paola Bouley

Axel & Mara Nelson

Cynthia Hammond

Kate Matthay

Inez Storer

Kathy Maxwell

Ginny Michael

Joe Michael

 

 

 

 

Sharon Mendoza, Tremari, Bianchini, Doughty.

Passed away on November 19, 2014.  Sharon was born on July 1, 1942

Daughter, Wife, Teacher, Accountant, Mother, Dairywoman, Winemaker, Inn Keeper and a true friend too many. Truly an Entrepreneur.

A native of Marin County, Sharon was born and raised on the Point Reyes peninsula. She went to a one room School house on the Historic “B” ranch for eight years. She graduated from Tomales High School in 1959 as valedictorian, and attended The University of the Pacific graduating in three years in 1963 with degrees in accounting.Sharon Doughty and Maidee Moore LINDA PETERSEN

After marrying her High School sweetheart, Ed Tremari in 1963, she settled in Petaluma and taught school at Kenilworth Junior High. Ed died in an accident in 1967 and later while still teaching she was courted by and married Bill Bianchini Jr. a Two Rock Dairyman. Sharon and Bill moved to a new home on Skillman Lane in Petaluma and became parents of two girls, Kathleen and Karen. They started their own dairy renting space for a while before purchasing the Grandi ranch in Pt. Reyes Station in 1974 from Sharon’s Father and Mother. Together they worked to grow and improve the ranch for nine years. Just as things were going well Bill became seriously ill and passed away. Never one to give up on anything, Sharon undertook the running of the ranch herself. With great guidance from her father Joe Sr. and her two brothers Joe Jr. and Jim and neighbor, Bob Giacomini, also her veterinarian, Bob Fisher. She became a successful dairywoman and leader in the community and the dairy industry. She served on the Board of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, (M.A.L.T., serving two terms as president). Sharon was an alternate member of the California Coastal Commission for one term. She was on the board of directors of the Marconi Conference Center in Marshall California.

 

In 1985 she met Steve Doughty of Napa, they were married in 1987. Together they ran the dairy for twenty-five years. Looking like the future the Dairy Industry was heading for troubled times Steve and Sharon conceived the ideas for a Winery and a Bed & Breakfast. Steve and Sharon consulted with Saralee and Richard Kunde. They recommended that Sharon plant Champagne Grapes on the ranch. Sharon planted some wine grapes on the ranch, and produced award winning California Sparkling Wine. Thus was born the Point Reyes Vineyards and that was followed by the Point Reyes Vineyard Inn.

 

As pioneers in the Marin County Wine industry, they opened the first Winery and

Tasting room

 

in Marin County since prohibition(1930s), on their ranch on Highway 1.

 

 

Sharon was very passionate about her family heritage. She was the granddaughter of Joseph V. Mendoza, an immigrant from the Azores Islands who worked hard and eventually purchased the historic “A” and “B” Ranches on the Point at Point Reyes in the early 1900’s. Sharon was raised on the “B” Ranch. Later in her life Sharon managed the “L” ranch dairy in the Point Reyes National Seashore after her Father passed away. She spent many hours helping others create the history of West Marin County and especially Point Reyes.

 

She was predeceased by her parents, Joe and Scotty Mendoza.

 

In addition to her husband Steve she is survived by her daughters Kathleen von Raesfeld (Steve) of Petaluma and Karen Taylor (John) of Pt. Reyes. Nephew Will Clark (Lena) of Pt. Reyes Grandchildren, Audrey and Nina von Raesfeld, Camilla, William Joseph, and Eva Taylor, also her two brothers Joseph H. Mendoza Jr. (Linda) and James L. Mendoza (Lucy). Nephews J.V., Jaime Mendoza, Jarrod Mendoza and nieces, Teresa Hatcher and Jolynn McClelland and many great nephews and nieces, as well as step-sons Richard Doughty and Steve Morse.