It turns out that Alamo residents and Save Mount Diablo prevailed in their 3 1/2-year battle to force Duffield to scale back the size of his mansion. Darn, at its originally planned 72,000 square feet, it would have been bigger than Hearst Castle, the model for Citizen Kane's Xanadu and it could have potentially been the biggest, ugliest house in suburbia, a showcase for my occasional Big, Ugly Houses feature. This is a feature that some readers love and others detest. Citizen Kane's Xanadu received a mention in my first Big, Ugly Houses post.
Actually, at 18,067-square-feet, it could still qualify for a Big, Ugly Houses write-up. That is, if Duffield lives up to to principles of Big, Ugly Househood, and hires an architect with an aesthetic design sense out of the '80s, that era of big hair, big shoulder pads, Dynasty, and over-the-top Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous displays of lavish living and "champagne wishes and caviar dreams."
Vorderbrueggen reports that "Save Mount Diablo withdrew its challenge of the project and in exchange Duffield will place conservation easements on roughly half the 21-acre parcel, which is next door to Mount Diablo State park. For the neighbors, Duffield agreed to a plethora of conditions such as restrictions on construction hours and the use of worker shuttles to cut down on traffic."
Speaking of Duffield, he sold Pleasanton-based PeopleSoft to Oracle in 2005 and in February 2008 founded Workday Inc. in Walnut Creek, described in a press release as company that delivers software to customers that help them "to link technology solutions to meet business requirements."
The Nejedly sibling rivalry is pretty nasty and, according to Vorderbrueggen, is heading to court. It centers on a lawsuit filed by one of Nejedly's son's, Contra Costa Community College Trustee John T. Nejedly. He asserts that his brother, James, and sister Mary Nejedly Piepho, the Contra Costa County supervisor, "conspired to cheat him out of his share of the estate of their father," who served as state senator for District 7 from 1969-1980 and who died in 2006 at age 91. (Pictured here is the Nejedly patriarch, John A. Nejedly, and his three children, Mary, James, and John T., in evidently happier times).
In a July 2007 story Vorderbrueggen wrote about the family squabble, she said that court records show that John T. Nejedly alleges that "his father disinherited him under the influence of painkillers and hostile siblings. The rift between him and his aging father began widening in late 2002 when Jim and Mary 'made repeated false assertions' to their father that his elder son was using 'alcohol and drugs, that he could not be trusted, that he was a danger to himself, and that he had abandoned his wife and children.'
Vordebrueggen quotes a "a longtime family friend" who "recalled the senator confiding in her often about his problems with John T., describing [the late senator] as heartbroken and disillusioned by his son's behavior."
The estate in question mostly involves 13 grassy, oak-covered acres in Walnut Creek near Tice Valley Boulevard, which the late senator purchased in 1951. I'm familiar with this property. It's in the neighborhood where I grew up, and we always knew it as belonging to a local political celebrity, John Nejedly, the one-time Contra Costa District Attorney and state senator.
Senator Nejedly, in his trust, sought to maintain the rural nature of the land, Vorderbrueggen writes. He also wanted to repay his son James, and his wife, Jaine, who maintained the estate and helped the old man stay in the house he built there, rather than be sent to a nursing home.
In today's column, Vordebrueggen says, "James and Mary say they are honoring the wishes of their father, who clearly spelled out in his trust and in a taped video why he disinherited John T." Apparently, the siblings tried to work out their dispute through mediation, and a court date has been set for August.