Thursday, August 30, 2007

If You Build It, They Will Come (for Permits!)

Have you been following the story of the Danville man who built a baseball practice field for his son's little league team in his back yard? Sounds sweet doesn't it? But it is also a good reminder to get those permits when you are making any additions or alterations to your home--from upgrading a bathroom to building a miniature AT&T Park in the back forty.

Here's the basic information. The Danville man spent about $300,000 to transform 18,000 square feet of his lot into a baseball field and practice location with batting cages and more. However, he did not get the proper permits to build something so large, especially the 14-foot high fences that obstruct his neighbors' views of Mt. Diablo and the hills. Some neighbors complain that the structure looks like a prison.

The City of Danville has denied the man's belated permit requests and ordered him to deconstruct the unsightly addition. He is, however, trying to make peace by lowering the fences to below 6 feet high. But he is unlikely to get approval.

You can read the coverage of the whole story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Some people think that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Our cities and communities have zoning laws and permit processes for a reason--to preserve the sanctity and value of the community as a whole. While this man has a right to make improvements to his property (within reason), his neighbors also have the right to their views and quiet enjoyment of their own property. How would this man feel if his neighbor built a huge windmill in his backyard because he just love windmills? By the way he plays the game, that would have to be acceptable as well.

Need more reminders to run your improvement plans by the city for permits? This man in Rolling Hills Estates in Southern California is getting one day in prison for every foot of un-approved fence he put up on his property's border. The fence is 180 feet long. That is six months in jail, because the new fence poses a safety risk on a popular horse trail.

So, even if you are just making minor improvements, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you have questions about permits and city ordinances, please let me know. I am always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or

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