Council approves Flamingo Road project

Neighbors swayed the City Council to approve completion for a Flamingo Road project that has sat unfinished since the 2005 Bluebird Canyon landslides.

The council unanimously voted Dec. 6 to uphold the Design Review Board's (DRB) approval of the proposed 11,729-square-foot home at 1000 Flamingo.

Two neighbors had appealed the board's decision, but 17 speakers supported the project during the hour-long hearing.

"We could hardly ask for a better solution other than some incendiary device," Steve Wood said.

Delphine and Laguna Beach native Clay Berryhill submitted the proposal after putting in an offer for the 42,483-square-foot property, contingent on DRB approval.

"This has been my project for six months," Delphine Berryhill said. "I've lost count of how much money we have spent. We want to make this a beautiful home for the community and for the neighbors."

Neighbors Bill and Tracy Brooks objected to revisions to the project, some plan changes they claimed were approved illegally and some they said were not approved at all.

Speaking on their behalf, Greg Vail said the Brooks wanted the house completed as much as the other neighbors, but want it to be smaller and more compatible with the neighborhood, which has been practically rebuilt after the landslide.

"Forget about fitting in," Dianne Stevens said. "Let's just finish it."

Stevens was among the Bluebird Canyon residents who lost their homes in the landslide that halted construction on the Flamingo house.

The project has been controversial since the original approval in 2000. Construction at 1000 Flamingo began in 2003, but what had been built, mostly foundations and retaining walls, was allowed to deteriorate after the landslide.

Modified plans submitted to reactivate building permits in 2010 revealed irregularities with the original approved plans, and the owner was notified that both were subject to design review. Foreclosure put the property on the market.

The Berryhills bought the parcel — and its problems — with the will and financial wherewithal to complete the project, as re-designed by architect Kirk Saunders.

Neighbors supported their proposal at the board hearings and at the council meeting.

"If you had told me three years ago that I would ever vote for a house this size, I would have said, 'Not in your lifetime,'" said Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger.

Outgoing Mayor Toni Iseman requested an "autopsy" of the project "so it never happens again."

"If this had happened in Newport Beach, somebody would be in jail," she said.

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