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January 27, 2009

Big, Ugly Houses: Chapter 3, WC's Wuthering Heights


Heathcliff! Heathcliff!

While my son was at basketball practice in the Northgate area I decided to take a walk along a short horse trail that winds down through what should be a very pretty valley at the base of Mount Diablo.



On the clear January morning, the sky sparkled blue, and the green winter grasses waved softly in the breeze. I heard the clip-clop-clip of a horse, mounted by a young woman come up behind me and then pass.

What a moment, so full of potential pastoral loveliness.

And then I looked southeast to take in what should be have been an absolutely spectacular view of Mount Diablo.


And what do I see? Wuthering Heights. Or rather, a desperate attempt by some builder and homeowner at approximating English country manor elegance. To the manor born?

More like, to the manor aborted. And what design of homestead is that next to the faux Wuthering Heights? Neo-Spanish Hacienda or Post-Suburban-Modern Riviera Villa?

These two houses: A picture-postcard foreground for our majestic Mount Diablo?

You can guess my opinion.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't have a problem with people building whatever kind of home they wish on their own property, no matter the location.

Since we have already ruined the flat-lands and lower valley areas of our county with sprawling look-alike developments and strip malls where else is there to build?

All of the good agricultural land is now growing nothing but houses so it only makes sense that folks are now building on the slopes and ridges.

Do you suppose that families who have been in this area for over 50+ years are equally offended by being surrounded by the multitude of unimaginative structures that have sprung up post-WWII?

Everyone is a closet NIMBY so as long as outrageously large development that goes against planning guidelines doesn't occur, we just have to live with those who come behind us.

Anonymous said...

I understand that people should have certain rights to build whatever house they want, and it's sad that good rural and agricultural land has been taken up by cookie-cutter subdivisions for more ordinary middle-class folks, which are also eyesores.

But this house and others I'm seeing here (like the ones in Alamo) are built by people with lots of money who are building their mansions in places where they will be seen. And if they have lots of money, why can't they hire good designers and architects to build them homes that are more tasteful and fit in better with the surrounding environment? They have no sense of social and civic responsibility. It's just about them and not how it impacts other people who live in the area. They kind of remind me of the greedy, self-centered bankers on Wall Street.

Anonymous said...

So what you are saying in essence is that only wealthy people have bad taste (in your opinion) and build ugly houses where others who see them may be offended?

Do you suppose that everyone felt that the Eichler homes were tasteful and fit in with the surrounding environment when they were built? Did the home buyers have a "sense of social and civic responsibility"? Doubtful, but locals had to suck it up and live with them. Only after the City built the sound walls along Ygnacio Valley Road were we spared those visions of loveliness as we traveled East.

It is very easy to blame those who have worked hard enough to reap the benefits of good fortune for all of our ills. We should all be good stewards and think about how our actions impact those around us while trying to retain some individuality in the process.

Anonymous said...

I have visited homes like this one on several occasions and have always found them particularly soul-less. But that's me. I will say that the construction, while designed to be grand, strikes me as a little shoddy. I leaned against a bearing wall in one home and it MOVED.

LeftOfCenter said...

Bad bad architect. Stupid stupid rich person.

A very large home could fit that landscape much better and even enhance the view.

If you have that much money, please higher a real architect and trust what they tell you. Frank Lloyd Wright is turning over in his grave.

Anonymous said...

Three things can solve this problem.

1. Gasoline
2. Lighter
3. Earthquake