San Francisco’s Board of Appeals has upheld the approval of a permit to start demolishing the existing 3,835-square-foot home at 255 Sea Cliff Avenue in order to make way for a modern mansion to rise. But the fate of the mansion’s previously approved design remains in flux.

While a glass-walled penthouse level was approved by San Francisco’s Planning Commission following a reduction in its size to 347 square feet, as rendered above, the building permits for the mansion were appealed by neighbors who argued that an inclusion of the penthouse would be inconsistent with the existing scale and character of Sea Cliff while citing concerns with respect to the loss of light, air and privacy for the surrounding homes, and potential light pollution from the so-called “Apple store on the roof,” as well.

On Wednesday evening, a motion by the Board to effectively grant the neighbors’ appeal and uphold the mansion’s building permit on the condition that the penthouse and roof deck be removed from the plans, based on being out of context with the surrounding neighborhood, failed to pass by a vote of 2-3 with President Honda, Commissioner Lazarus and Commissioner Wilson dissenting.

But the Board then unanimously voted to continue the appeal of the building permit a week, in order “to allow time for the permit holder to work with the appellants on a design that removes the penthouse and includes a roof deck no larger than 500 square feet.”

As the approved home and penthouse level would look from one of the aforementioned appellant’s home on El Camino Del Mar:

And as the appellant’s view and 255 Sea Cliff Avenue currently appear:

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Ari

    I agree. Planning/the city should make more of an effort to keep sf as it is, building within exisiting envelops make sense. If someone wants one huge modernist manse big enough to encompass all of ggnra…they can move to Atherton or Orinda where it’ll be welcome. Not against gentrification/moneyed elites/change but line stepping will take us far

  2. Posted by Futurist

    Ridiculous. The penthouse and roof deck should be allowed. It meets the intent and rules of the Planning code.

    Telling people they should “move somewhere else”, where they will be welcome, smacks of complete nimbyism and small town thinking. And you, in fact, ARE against so called “moneyed elites” by the very nature of your comment.

    • Posted by Ari

      Right, very cool with being against the colluding and cloistered “moneyed elites”.

      Politics aside, these expansions may be within the planning code but that doesn’t mean they have to be taken as gospel. That doesn’t mean the planning code is written in stone. The general character/vibe of the city is because of it’s architecture and it is wiser for it to be fought to be preserved using all means available (DR, lawsuits,etc.,) rather than just succumb..is that bothersome? Dianne Feinstein is pushing to overturn that parking lot sale, what happened to private property rights.

      It begins with a penthouse and it could end with Geary looking like Champs-Elysee (ok, slight exaggeration)

      • Posted by Futurist

        Dude, this article is ONLY about this particular house, nothing more. Don’t drag in other issues.

        And preserving what, in this particular case. No one is succumbing. and to what if they are? BTW, DR’s should be banned.

      • Posted by Brian M

        Much of the City’s current architecture is banal at best. Certainly the case in Beige Cliff.

        Why does a neighborhood have to be frozen in time?

        Geary looking like the Champs Elyse would be awesome compared to its current urban strip mall character.

  3. Posted by Oaklandlover

    So the current “mansion” on the site is a POS. What sucks is the new “mansion” is also POS. We are talking about a huge box with a few windows. Like ya know I bought some shoes they came in a rectangular box, punch a few holes in the sides and put a cute little see thru box on top.

    Creative. This hunk of junk will sit and serve dis justice to creativity just like the last junker mansion. Come on people. Build a properly designed elegant and creative, emphasis on creative, mansion. There are no details here. No style, nothing interesting. A shoe box. Fun.

    Too much money sloshing around. No class at all.

    How come designers hundreds… no wait… thousands of years ago were more creative. Where is creativity or /and originality these days. Make something fun. Sigh.

    An armchair architect. I’ll send my design ideas in to anyone who is interested in non formulaic creation.

    • Posted by Futurist

      This is really a funny set of comments. Seriously, funny. Properly designed? huh? No style? huh? no details? huh?

      Love how you (attempt) to create class with style. So, by your account, maybe this should look like a pyramid made of stone, or perhaps a Roman temple with Ionic columns and a carved architrave? Perhaps fierce Roman soldiers carved into the cornice?

      I would encourage you to spend some time studying Modernism, especially the International Style. Save your drawings.

      • Posted by Oaklandlover

        Yes I don’t like modernism it’s boring, sterile. That’s ok right? Are we not all here to express opinions? Is that ok?

        Yes put a gothic style mansion there or even a classic Victorian mansion. A stone pyramid would sure be remembered 100 years from now vs this shoebox. Uhhh oh it might actually stand out god forbid.

        This modern square shoebox junk is garbage, mission bay nasty. On the other hand more power to the owners to do it thier way I support that 100%.

        Joking about the drawings of course. Sorta…

        • Posted by Futurist

          You can like whatever you like, but like most armchair “architects” here, you don’t seem to care to expand your knowledge of architectural history and “style”. You seem intent on just silly name calling: “garbage, shoebox, nasty…” et al.

          It makes you lose credibility.

        • Posted by Frisco

          If you think contemporary architecture is terrible and you prefer something fun and decorative, I have a government building in Portland to sell you.

  4. Posted by MDG399

    no-one likes change – but they wrap their hate for any change in “context, intent and what not…” All BS and mean spirited IMHO….

  5. Posted by gm

    Maybe the appellant should build a penthouse to see over the penthouse blocking his view.

  6. Posted by Joel S.

    If the building meets the planning code requirements for features like height, bulk, and setback, and the City rejects the application, has the developer sue the city for failing to abide by the planning code? Would they win? Is there any precedent where developers have sued and won? I suspect that most developers avoid them because of the animosity it would created with the planning department, but I want to know if the City is legally obligated to follow its own planning code for conforming plans.

  7. Posted by Eddy

    You could plant some really nice hedges on the roof deck. They grow pretty tall with good sunlight. But they don’t let as much light through as glass. 😉

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