Rizzo spared no expense on his lavish Surf City home

HUNTINGTON BEACH — A guided tour of Robert Rizzo's home Friday offered an unusual peek into the affluent lifestyle he built while running blue-collar Bell.

When he lived in the house near Huntington Beach's City Hall, the former city manager — who now stands accused of public corruption — walked on travertine flooring, looked through etched glass windows, passed through leaded glass doors and ate in a formal dining room beneath a coffered ceiling.

He could choose between a steam shower or bathing under a chandelier in a bathroom lined in travertine, granite and marble.

His kitchen features granite surfaces, maple cabinets and a Wolf commercial-quality stove.

The living room features built-in bookshelves. All three of the fireplaces have marble facing.

And when Rizzo stepped out of bed in his master bedroom in the morning, he could use a private balcony overlooking a well-kept residential neighborhood. To his right was a walk-in closet made of cherry wood. The closet also had a crystal chandelier.

The two-story, 3,250-square-foot home at 1935 Lake St. is listed for $949,000. The house, built in 1994, has four bedrooms, three full bathrooms and two half bathrooms.

Rizzo bought it in 2007 for $1.13 million. None of the current furniture belongs to Rizzo; the house was professionally staged for the sale.

When Bill Cuppy, Rizzo's listing agent from Pier Realty, got a hold of the house in June, the seasoned agent knew he had a golden opportunity.

"I'm utilizing all of my marketing tools," he said. "And I can't buy advertising like this."

Right away, he put an on-sale sign and a guesstimate dollar amount: $979,000. When the house was appraised, they repriced it.

"I was not going to allow the camera time [to] go to waste," he said. "I have three other properties on sale right now — how many are you calling me about?"

Cuppy said he didn't know where his client was staying these days.

When the Los Angeles Times first reported of Rizzo's alleged public corruption last year, two of Rizzo's next-door neighbors, Dennis and Linda McFarland, said their quiet street turned into a media circus. Rizzo would later be taken away in handcuffs from his home.

"I guess you can say it's like living next to Al Capone," Dennis McFarland said.

The couple said Rizzo was unfriendly, but that his wife was sweet and outgoing.

Linda McFarland said Rizzo visited her once of all the years he lived next door — to get an agreement to build a fence. It was only in times like that, she said, that he was neighborly.

"It was a drastic change when he wanted something," she said, standing in one of the Rizzo home's private courtyards.

When Rizzo first moved in, Linda McFarland, who spent her career working as a commercial real estate agent, couldn't believe the amount of remodeling the man did to his house.

"I thought, 'Wow! Where does he make that kind of money?'" she said. "You're talking bucks."

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