Monday, December 17, 2018
How San Francisco deals with illegal teardowns
The San Francisco Planning Commission made an unprecedented ruling against a developer this week, demanding that he rebuild a replica of a famous house he had illegally demolished.
The residence — known as the Largent House — was in San Francisco’s Twin Peaks neighborhood. It was built in 1936 and designed by one of the most important modern architects, Richard Neutra. Among the unique features of the 1,300-square-foot house was an indoor swimming pool.
The owner, Ross Johnston, bought the property last year. The planning department gave him a permit to renovate the house, but they did not give him the permission to demolish it.
The city believes he wanted to build a 4,000-square-foot mansion on that lot and flip it for a profit.
Earlier this week, the planning commissioners voted 5-0 to order Johnston to build the exact replica. They also want him to put up a sidewalk plaque that would let people know the original Neutra house was demolished.
Johnston’s lawyer declined to comment on our story. The city says even if he tries to sell the property, whoever buys the lot will have to build the replica.