Inverness Association appeals Moonrise Kingdom again


The Inverness Association appealed the Planning Commission’s 6-1 approval last week of permits for the proposed development on Mount Vision known as Moonrise Kingdom. 

“We still feel that it’s too big, and we think the supervisors should hear what their constituents have to say about this,” said Catherine Caufield, chair of the association’s design review committee, which spearheaded the appeal. 

The Planning Commission conditioned its approval on adopting almost all of the terms requested by the association, but it did not mandate that the footprint shrink or that the tallest existing structure on the property—known as the “Windmill”—be reduced to meet current height standards. The appeal addresses those two points, along with a more complicated one involving the zoning of one of the property’s two parcels. 

The commission decided to rezone the parcel so that it was consistent with conventional residential zoning, taking staff’s recommendation that it was likely mislabeled on old county maps as “open space,” which prohibits development. 

The appeal does not contest the decision necessarily, but rather states that the permits are not valid until they are re-written to “find compliance with the proposed new zoning.” 

It also states that “the permit must not become effective…” until the Board of Supervisors adopts the necessary ordinances to change the parcel’s land use designation and the California Coastal Commission has certified the related Local Coastal Program amendment. 

The property owners, Alexis and Trevor Traina, told the Light in an email, “We are proud of the work and thought that went into our project and deeply appreciate the positive support from the commissioners.” They continued: “We remain mystified how the Inverness Association could be on the wrong side of this important preservation debate.” 

Besides building a new 4,481-square-foot home, the San Francisco couple plans to legalize and restore three cabins built by the previous owner, the late Howard Waite, which are considered important examples of the hand-built house movement of the 1960s. 

The property’s immediate neighbors spoke in support of the plans at the commission’s hearing last week, describing the Trainas’ respectful nature and ability to preserve and manage the lot, which borders the national seashore. 

The approved plans reduce possible eyesores related to the development, retain as many healthy trees as possible and limit construction to the months outside the nesting season, among other conditions included by the commissioners last week. 

Many of the commissioners were impressed with the preservation goals, and even decided to reverse an earlier decision from the county’s deputy zoning administrator to reduce the Windmill’s height after an architect spoke on the cultural significance of the property’s structures. 

Yet the association’s board believes the commission did not abide by county code and community planning documents—including the Inverness Ridge Communities Plan—concerning size, the height of the Windmill and protocol for zoning standards. 

The association’s president, Kathy Hartzell, said board members voted to appeal after the design review committee—of which she is one of four members—flagged concerns following the planning commission’s vote last week. 

When the association appealed the project approval by the deputy zoning administrator in December, it cost the group $630; the new appeal cost $1,250. Ms. Hartzell said member donations toward the appeals covered most of those costs.