Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Flintstone House

For as long as I can remember, there has stood an odd cave-like sprawl of a home up on a hill overlooking the 280 freeway. As a child, I would point excitedly at the structure and squeal: 'Flintstone house, Flintstone house!' whenever my parents drove down I-280. I suspect that not only children in the '70s like me said this, but adults as well as the name has stuck all these years. In recent articles regarding The Flintstone House, it is now also known as an 'eyesore' and a property 'not in keeping with community standards'. 

The home's architect, William Nicholson, was interested in creating dome-like structures by spraying shotcrete, concrete projected at high velocity primarily on to a vertical or overhead surfaces, onto steel rebar and wire mesh frames over inflated aeronautical balloons. The technique had been developed just a year before in 1975 and was still considered experimental at the time. Nicholson apparently created a series of these 'dome homes', but this is the only one you might have heard of as of late. 

The original house was a drab beige and sort of fit in well enough along a hillside made up of ever-green trees and dry brush. Sometime in the the mid-2000s, the house was painted a burnt sienna color. -really easy to spot from the freeway (although it always had been). A few years ago, the home was listed on AirBnB. The AirBnB ad showed a structure that had morphed bit from monochrome to this: 



A woman called Mrs. Fang bought the property two years ago and decided to go whole hog with the Flintstone theme. The property grounds are now host to an interesting assortment of statues and other structures. The view from 280 shows a menagerie of dinosaurs. At the entrance to her home stand life-size Flintstone cartoon characters including Betty, Barney and Fred. 

This is what the property looks like now: 



Front entrance


View from Interstate 280


Her neighbors have registered a complaint with the city and it's been determined Mrs. Fang is in code violation. I think the wealthy citizens of Hillsborough are mostly up-in-arms because they think her house looks garish. What's vaguely ironic is that given how large the lots are in this area and how the greenery rather obscures one's view, the neighbors who are upset can't actually see much of what Fang has done to the property lest they are driving by on the highway. 

Fang has retained the services of attorney Angela Alioto, a woman from a prominent San Francisco family who recently unsuccessfully ran for mayor. Mrs. Fang, also not unknown in SF's 'high society', if you will, is the former publisher of the San Francisco Examiner newspaper. 

Alioto alleges that racism is behind the opposition to Fang's *ahem* improvements. 

According to court documents, the dinosaurs standing in her yard count as 'unenclosed structures that require prior approval and a building permit'. Neither of which Fang has obtained.

I'm interested to know how this saga will pan out. Will Mrs. Fang have to dismantle her pre-historic zoo or will her neighbors have to suck it up in the name of a bit of a cartoon fun? 


An unadulterated Nicholson design in Palm Springs


20 comments:

  1. Hmm.
    It isn't to my personal taste in those colours, but I would smile as I went past.
    It would make directions easy too - turn left at the Flinstone House...

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    Replies
    1. Ha! Yes! 'If you've driven past Wilma & Betty, then you've gone too far.'

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  2. I think it's cute. But, yeah, neighbors. Probably all sorts of issues there. And the AirBnB is probably what the neighbors really hate.

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    1. They went from an AirBnB situation to YABBA DABBA... Poor uber wealthy people. ;)

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  3. Yeah, this made the news up here in Canada too. I hope Mrs Fang wins her lawsuit! There's not enough individuality and fun in this world. Screw the neighbours!

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    1. It will be interesting to see if Alioto can sell the racism angle. I mean, it's not as if Mrs. Fang were the only Chinese-American within the city limits.

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  4. I like the look of it in the first photo - Seems a bit shiny in the second and I must say the "statues" are not my taste.

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    1. I enjoyed it as a child when it was boring beige because, I guess, it did remind me of the cartoon. Now it's morphed into something else entirely for children of this age to ogle and point at.

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  5. My god - what sort of a state of mind would you have to maintain in order to live there?!

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    1. She supposedly only entertains there. She has another house somewhere else in Hillsborough that she counts as her residence.

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  6. I would enjoy being Mrs. Fang. It smacks of having a lot of money. I would tell the zoning authorities and neighbors, lighten up. Enjoy the ride, you really do only go by once, no matter how often you look up at the house on the hill.

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    1. Huge piles of cash. This is not *spoiler alert* her primary residence. She bought it for the purposes of entertaining. Ha.

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  7. I think it's a fun house, as long as it's not next door to mine. :D

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    1. Yes, it's like an amusement park fun house. :D

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  8. I've been following this in the news -- intrigued by how it will all come out in the wash. Enjoy reading your insights on the situation.

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    1. Thank you, Joared. I wish I had a crystal ball...time will tell, to be sure.

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  9. Not in keeping with community standards? The house was there before they were!

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    1. Yes, but the 'yard art' and paint job weren't. That said, the neighbors are snotty bastards. Mrs. Fang, by the way, bought this home for entertaining only. Her main residence in Hillsborough is elsewhere.

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