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Richmond Neighbors Miffed Over Building
March 26, 2001

The City Council will hear Brickyard Landing residents' complaints about a structure they say blocks their Bay views 

By Shawn Masten

RICHMOND -- When Brickyard Landing residents endorsed construction of a three-story office building in the nearby Brickyard Cove Marina, they were assured that the building wouldn't block their view of the Bay Bridge. 

It does. 

"What I have is this monolith in front of me," said Kay Walker, a longtime resident. "It's just criminal. We want it brought down to the height that it lawfully should be." 

The City Council will hear the residents' complaints Tuesday, but now that the building is up, it's questionable what the city can do. 

The height of the building is right, said Ronald Clausen, attorney for Cove Investments, its developer. 

"I personally was involved in negotiating a height settlement agreement with a delegation of the Brickyard Landing homeowners association," said Clausen. "The City Council and the Planning Commission approved the building to have that height. I don't know what the issue is." 

The issue, according to Walker, is that the building is more than seven feet higher than it was supposed to be. 

"The agreement was based on the belief that the new building would not be more than three feet higher than an existing three-story building next door," said Walker, one of a three-member group from Brickyard Landing who negotiated the height agreement with Clausen. "As a result of the agreement, we didn't oppose the development. That height is not what we agreed to," Walker said pointing at the building from her balcony. 

After being inundated with telephone calls and e-mails from residents complaining about the building, Councilman John Marquez asked the city attorney and city planners for some answers. 

A response is expected at Tuesday's meeting, he said. 

"If (the height of the building) has gone beyond what was agreed to and we're able to bring it back down ... then we should do it," Marquez said. "If we allow people to go a little bit higher, then what good are rules and regulations?" 

Planning officials could not be reached for comment Friday. 

Councilman Tom Butt said an investigation by city planners concluded that there was no violation of the conditions of approval. 

No rules were broken in the building's construction, Clausen said. 

"The building is in compliance with both the agreement and with all of its city approvals," he said. "And it's also a good-looking building." 

Located on Brickyard Cove Road, the building is part of a $10 million office complex long planned for the area, an enclave of sailboats and expensive homes all oriented for the best views of San Francisco Bay. 

Fearing that it would decrease their quality of life by blocking part of the Bay views, residents of the 241-unit Brickyard Landing condominiums persuaded the city in early 1999 to require the developer to cut the height of the two buildings down from the four stories originally proposed. 

"We reduced the height of the building one full floor as part of the settlement process," Clausen said. "And we did that to be respectful to the neighbors and their concerns."