The Flintstone House can stay, but neighbors say the 15-foot dinosaurs have to go
Trouble is brewing at the “Flintstone House,” but this time Fred, Wilma, Pebbles and Dino have nothing to do with it.
With its boulder-like architectural design and orange and purple paint, the home at 45 Berryessa Way in Hillsborough, Calif. — better known as the Flintstone House for its resemblance to the Stone Age family’s abode in the cartoon town of Bedrock — has raised a few eyebrows among local residents over the years. Now, issues with the property’s decorative style have landed the house and its owner in court.
Calling it a “highly visible eyesore,” town officials are asking a San Mateo County judge to declare the famed Flintstone House a public nuisance and order the owner to remove a metal menagerie of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, along with other decorative accoutrements from her property.
Florence Fang, who was previously the publisher of the San Francisco Examiner, purchased the property for $2.8 million in 2017 and soon after began redesigning the backyard with brightly colored mushrooms, a band of 15-foot dinosaurs, a giraffe, a mastodon and a sign reading “Yabba Dabba Doo.” Those items were constructed without the necessary approvals and permits, officials contend.
Hillsborough issued a building permit in November 2017 that allowed Fang to build a 2-foot-high retaining wall on the property. However, when officials visited the house for an inspection, they found extensive landscaping in the backyard, a new deck and a retaining wall on the side of the property that had been constructed to delineate an area for parking. Those changes fell outside the scope of the permit that had been issued by the town, according to the civil complaint filed in court.
The town sent three notices from December 2017 through August ordering that Fang stop altering the property, but officials said those requests were ignored. After a hearing over the issue in October, the town’s administrative panel decided that some of the prehistoric metal animals qualified as “unenclosed structures” and required a building permit and other approvals.
“They are designed to be very intrusive, resulting in the owner’s vision for her property being imposed on many other properties and views, without regard to the desires of other residents,” the administrative hearing panel wrote in its decision.
Fang could not be reached for comment Monday.
Garbis Bezujian, one of Fang’s neighbors, told the panel during the hearing that he could see some of the landscaping from his house, which is on the same cul-de-sac as the Flintstone House. He said the property “appeared to be outside the norms for the town” and “creates lots of questions,” according to the panel.
The panel decided the landscape decorations needed to be removed by December because they had not been approved and levied a $200 fine for the violation. Fang paid the citation but did not remove the decorations, according to the complaint.
While the eccentrically designed home nestled into a hillside overlooking the Crystal Springs Reservoir has its critics, it also has some fans. Tourists and travelers who spot the property from Highway 280 often stop to take photos and share their wonderment of the house on social media.
The multiple-dome-shaped structure was designed in 1976 by Bay Area architect William Nicholson as an experiment in new materials. During the 1980s, the residence was called the Barbapapa House after the children’s books of that name and a subsequent cartoon show.
Other monikers have included the Dome House, the Gumby House and the Bubble House. The unusual shape of the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house was created by molding wire around large balloons and then spraying the surface with a high-velocity concrete known as gunite.
The home’s previous owner listed the property for sale in 2015, but it sat on the market for more than a year before the asking price was reduced. For a while in 2016, the house was listed on Airbnb for roughly $750 a night.
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