Neighbors Lay Siege to Man’s Castle : Scale and Snail’s Pace of Construction Cause Uproar in Irvine
Victor Ganish’s home is turning into his castle. Slowly.
It has been four years since the Israeli-born father of three first obtained a remodeling permit from the City of Irvine and began turning his unassuming four-bedroom suburban home into a castlelike mansion at 4822 Kron St.
But the slow pace of construction and the striking contrast between Ganish’s baroque creation and the surrounding brown, single-family tracts have riled his neighbors to the point that they have asked the City Council to demolish the house.
In this planned community where strict neighborhood association rules can govern the placement of even the smallest plant, Ganish’s bold endeavor has caused deep consternation.
One Kron Street resident, a well-dressed man of 40, told the Irvine council Tuesday night that the situation was so disturbing that he and his wife could no longer walk past the house in peace.
“My wife and I walk many evenings for exercise, unwinding from our professional day,” Richard Fisher said. “We can no longer walk in that direction and hope to unwind.”
Others told the council that Ganish once tried to raise exotic birds in his backyard.
“It looks to me like we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t,” said Councilwoman Sally Anne Miller, who along with Mayor Dave Baker failed to persuade colleagues to summon Ganish before the council and to order the demolition of the entire structure.
“My inclination is to demolish the house,” Miller added. “Quite frankly, this gentleman has violated eveything that we believe to be true in Irvine and that is that quality of life is important, to be a good neighbor and to abide by rules in mandatory and non-mandatory homeowners’ associations.”
The five-member City Council voted instead to give Ganish 60 additional days to complete enough of the exterior work so that he would no longer be violating Irvine’s year-old Residence Remodeling Law.
That law, which was passed in part because of residents’ concern about the Kron house, requires that all work must be completed within one year of obtaining the work permit.
Ganish did not appear at Tuesday night’s council meeting to defend himself. And when asked to tell his side of the story to a reporter who visited the house Tuesday afternoon, he said he preferred not to talk.
“He doesn’t feel that this (remodeling) law is constitutional,” explained Bob Storchheim , Irvine’s manager of inspection services. Storchheim said Ganish hasn’t allowed him to make an inspection since Oct. 7. Gary Vanderpol, a spokesman for the 300-member Ranch Homeowners Assn, said: “Ganish’s house doesn’t fit the neighborborhood. If we were in Big Canyon or surrounded by million-dollar homes, then it would fit. One doesn’t put a house that is four times the size of other houses in a residential area like this.”
Vanderpol said his group does not “have the bucks or the time” to take Ganish to court and is depending on the city for help.
“There has been a constant concern by residents on the street and others that this is out of the character of our housing tract,” Vanderpol said, adding:
“If you look at Irvine, they build houses that are the same general size and description. People move here for those reasons. They were tired of living near hodge-podge.”
City Councilman Larry Agran, who along with council members Ray Catalano and Barbara Wiener voted to give Ganish another chance to comply, said he thought that Ganish might be the kind of person “who walks to the beat of a different drummer.”
After the 10 p.m. vote, Agran said: “We have to strike a balance between enforcing the law, safeguarding the neighbohood and respecting the dignity of the human beings involved.
“Who knows,” Agran added, “this may be one of those things that in 20 years people will say, ‘This is one of the most interesting things to see in Irvine.’ ”