S.F. Gets Tough on Demolition - Page 2

Owner appeals City commission's order to rebuild Neutra's 'historic' Largent House
Fridays on the Homefront
Interior before the demo. Photo: courtesy MLS San Francisco
Fridays on the Homefront
What remained after demo. Photo: courtesy Google Maps

"The fact that it was a unanimous vote should send a message to everyone that is playing fast and loose that the game is over," said Peskin, affirming the city's resolve to "preserve iconic, historic structures."

Several followers of the Eichler Network's Facebook page were impressed, with one declaring the ruling "hilarious and just" and another noting of the commission, "The SFCPC is known for siding with developers. Glad they're turning over a new leaf."

"We think this is a very original and creative reaction to this kind of desecration for monetary purposes," said Dion Neutra, one of Richard Neutra's sons. Dion is an architect and former business partner of his father's who said he is "ready and willing" to work on the rebuild. With knockdowns, he said, "Dollar penalties are usually ineffective. Delays in granting permits is another, but this is perhaps the most onerous to a would-be miscreant."

So onerous, in fact, that Johnston switched attorneys and appealed the decision January 14 "on the basis that the Planning Commission's action exceeds its authority…" It took only a week, however, for the city to reject the appeal for allegedly only including signatures from 10 percent of the neighbors around 49 Hopkins Avenue instead of the required 20 percent.

Considering new attorney Andrew Zacks has enlisted spin doctor deluxe Sam Singer to handle press inquiries about the property, it seems safe to assume that his client is not giving in. Singer issued a press release about the commission's "invalid, bizarre and illegal" action and said February 4 that they are "currently reviewing our options as to what road to take."

"It is a good symbolic gesture," said the architect's other son, Raymond Neutra, commenting about the commission ruling. Raymond, who is active in the campaign to save his father's Connell House in Pebble Beach, remains skeptical about a forced rebuilt, an opinion shared by several on the Facebook string.

"I can't imagine that they'll be able to enforce that," the son predicted. "I think all they can do is deny him a building permit."