A group of north Berkeley residents who are contesting the construction of a new home by Lotus founder and philanthropist Mitch Kapor on his property at 2707 Rose Street say they may move for a new trial after a judge ruled against them in December.
“The case is not yet over,” said Susan Nunes Fadley, a member of the Berkeley Hills Preservation group which has protested the bid by Kapor and his wife Freada Kapor-Klein to build a home in Berkeley from the outset. “In our and our lawyer’s opinion there were errors in the judgment, and so we are planning to move for a new trial. If we don’t prevail in the new trial motion, we are likely to appeal.”
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled against the Berkeley Hills Preservation group, whose attorney, Susan Brandt-Hawley, had argued that the city of Berkeley should not have given Kapor approval to build a 6,478 sq ft home without first ordering an Environmental Impact Report, as legislated under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The City of Berkeley approved Kapor’s original application and the immediate neighbors of 2707 Rose Street support the project. Councilmember Susan Wengraf, whose district includes the property, is in agreeement with Judge Roesch who ruled that there was nothing out of the ordinary about such a large home being built on a steep slope. Wengraf told the Daily Californian “I’m a little frustrated with frivolous lawsuits and appeals that try to prevent people from doing what they are already allowed to do.”
Susan Brandt-Hawley did not return calls from Berkeleyside. Mitch Kapor’s attorney, Amrit Kulkarni told Berkeleyside earlier this month that he would be surprised if [Berkeley Hills Preservation] continued legal proceedings. “But if they do we are prepared to fight,” he said.