SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The San Francisco Planning Commission this week made an unprecedented decision against a developer demanding that he rebuild a replica of a famous home that he illegally demolished.
The residence – known as the Largent House – was in the Twin Peaks neighborhood of San Francisco. It was built in 1936 and designed by one of the most important modern architects, Richard Neutra. One of the unique features of the 1,300-square-foot home was an indoor pool.
Neighbor Cheryl Traverce filed a complaint with the city after she returned from a trip and found the house had been demolished
“I went to New York for about a week and a half and came back, the house was gone, totally gone,” she told KPIX 5. “I was shocked.”
Traverce said the planning commission’s decision was “a victory for the neighbors and the common people”.
The owner, Ross Johnston, bought the property last year. The planning department gave him permission to renovate the house, but they didn’t give him permission to demolish it.
The city believes he wanted to build a 4,000-square-foot mansion on this lot and turn it over for a profit.
Earlier this week, the planners voted 5-0 that Johnston should build the exact replica. They also want him to put a plaque on the sidewalk letting people know that the original Neutra house was demolished.
Commissioner Dennis Richards says many house pinball machines are trying to scam the city.
“Demolishing a $ 1.2 million home and replacing it with a $ 5 million home will make the city less affordable,” he said. “We are finding that an epidemic of this kind of thing is happening.”
He hopes this ruling will send a strong message: “If a developer even thinks about demolishing a house illegally, I want you to go to 49 Hopkins and look at the plaque because that’s exactly what will happen in the future.”
Johnston’s attorney declined to comment on our story. The city says even if they try to sell the property, anyone who buys the property must build the replica.