Hillside residents are concerned that large additions to homes and
other developments are blocking their views and lowering their
property values. While the City Council is looking into developing an
ordinance that would limit building heights, some council members say
such regulations are a difficult balancing act.
Louise Penn, a resident in the 1200 block of Alta Paseo, gathered
more than a dozen letters from her neighbors asking the city to enact
a view-protection ordinance. Penn’s own view was blocked recently by
a 7-foot chain-link fence, and she said without an ordinance,
hillside homeowners risk losing property value.
“I think we desperately need an ordinance so when people move in,
they have some guidelines and know you just don’t do that,” she said.
“A lot of people don’t care. They’ll just put up a three-story home
and block your entire view.”
Penn was one of several hillside residents who appeared before the
council July 29 to ask members for their help in preventing the
so-called “mansionization” of the area. Mayor Stacey Murphy said the
council needs to take action to help those residents maintain their
“When you bought your house, you bought it with that view,” Murphy
said. “What we’re talking about is changing your initial investment.”
The council voted unanimously to authorize Community Development
Department staffers to find consultants to aid in a two-step process
that could result in a possible ordinance. The consultant will first
be asked to solicit public input on a view ordinance, and if the
community desires, develop that ordinance. The consultant will be
paid between about $5,000 and $7,000 to gauge public opinion, and
about $30,000 to $35,000 to develop the measure.
While all council members agreed to examine a potential ordinance,
Councilman Dave Golonski suggested that developing a mechanism to
regulate view protection would be no easy task.
“We have to balance protecting one neighbor’s view and another
neighbor’s right to have trees or develop their homes,” he said.
Even agreeing on what constitutes a view could be difficult,
Councilman Jef Vander Borght said. He pointed out that some might
want to see trees while others might not, and some might want to see
the mountains while others want to see the valley.
“Whose view are we worried about?” he said. “Is it your view or
your neighbor’s view? It’s really, really hard.”
Home construction is restricted by what city officials called
generous “mansionization” restrictions, with roof peaks required to
be less than 35 feet high and homes to take up no more than 60% of
A consultant will probably not be hired until October or November,
and Assistant Planner John Bowler said the city plans to work with a
consultant experienced in view-protection ordinances.
“We want to hire a consultant with previous experience who can
talk about the limitations of view protection,” he said.