AESTHETICS, PLANNED DEVELOPMENT THEN AND NOW – OUR PUD NEARLY 20 YEARS LATER

The following submitted by Geoffrey Brooks, Association Member

I was following comments published on the Next Door Somersett blog, initiated by Ivonne Richardson (Sierra Canyon Resident) based on the  changes rapidly made at the behest of the new Board Members to the AGC and posted this comment.

“It is mystifying to me why Board member O’Donnell has taken such an antagonistic tone. I would like to thank Ivonne Richardson for bringing the ins and outs, commentary, fair or not, to all who live in Somersett. The Board is elected to represent the will of the residents! We have had several Board members in the past with personal agendas; that has not always worked out for the over-all well-being of our community.

I served on the Documents committee, where with Rob Jordan, Terril Retter, Board member Craig Hansen. We discussed “ad nauseam” the supposed defects of our current AGC guidelines… and the improvements to the Rules & Regulations many felt were necessary, to make them responsive to community needs. There was much discussion as to whether a “variance” or “exception” given by the AGC to one homeowner, should become the norm.

The ugly “box like” new construction on-going and planned, is best seen in the Cliffs & the Pointe; and, yes… also on top of the Boulders, where all the architecture was supposed to have been original and exceptional to justify a $2 million house.

Now, this new modern style “box-like” closely packed construction is coming to Brea (Village 1A). Terril Retter was at pains to point out that the AGC had no power to make the builders construct houses which had similar aesthetics to the community already built. Housing built in the 2000’s on “tiny” lots, as found in Talon Pointe, the Vue, Sierra Canyon had variety of styles, maintained the community “look”. Whereas I agree that “Rockery Walls” look quaint and natural, I also believe given the unstable, loose nature of our soil found on the foothills; engineered walls, when landscaped are much better. They are less likely to expensively collapse and require repairs. Just look at the repaired rockery wall near Timaru Court (which look ghastly to me)! Contrary to that, the “great” engineered Walls below the “Stan Lucas” house in “Eagle Bend” now landscaped, look good.

It is disturbing to hear “fake facts” such that the previous professional AGC members took “kick-backs” to approve the use of extensive engineered walls in Village 1A. In actuality they had no choice but to acquiesce to City approved construction plans. Just look at the fuss (to no avail) kicked up by Verdi residents to construction plans approved by the City in 2001. Urbanization in rustic areas is never going to be pleasing to the eye!

While kudos are deserved to our “new” Board for their intensive efforts to make everything better; their handling of the AGC revamp is less than desirable. There should have been no rush to arbitrarily try and  change the AGC guidelines, without perhaps better understanding what the actual purpose/function of the committee might be. Dismissing professionals required by the current charter and CC&R’s, who had worked hard on our communities behalf, was done in a very unprofessional manner. Ask yourself the question, if you had been fired without notice, would you not be “hurt and upset”?

A better approach would be to re-install the Community Standards Committee and engage everyone in an aesthetically nuanced discussion to make Somersett better (looking?). There should be a close look at the CCR’s, to see what changes we can make to the aesthetic guidelines to prevent new housing being built that is jarring to the original Somersett concept.”

Geoffrey Brooks