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Flying Cottage Wins Permit from ZAB By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday September 27, 2005

The owner of the two-story plywood shell with a house atop that South Berkeley neighbors call “The Flying Cottage” has won a major battle in her fight to resume construction on the building. 

Over neighborhood objections, Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustment Board voted 8-0-1 to issue a Design Review Permit for developer Christina Sun to build two stories of housing over a ground floor shop at 3045 Shattuck Ave.  

The ZAB is requiring Sun provide the city with a landscape bond so that if she fails to maintain the property, the city can take over the upkeep. After neighbors stopped the project two years ago by charging that Sun intended to build an illegal boarding house, the decision essentially gives Sun the go-ahead to complete the building. 

Robert Lauriston, who lives near the property, said neighbors might appeal the permit to the City Council. 

The ZAB vote came after Sun agreed to shrink parts of the building to appease neighbors. 

“I think we’ve almost produced a swan,” said Anders Brandt, the project’s architect. 

But neighbors said the improvements still left them with a towering eyesore that left little green space on the corner of Shattuck and Prince Street. 

“There’s just way too much concrete,” said Doug James. “The whole rear yard will be paved.” 

Jennifer Elrod feared that the nine-bedroom building would mean more cars parked on crowded side streets. 

The new design, conceived during meetings between Brandt and a ZAB subcommittee, lowers the roof and removes living space on the third floor.  

The building, which looms above neighboring structures, is now proposed as two separate apartments. Although Shattuck Avenue nearby is lined with two-story buildings, Berkeley zoning law gives developers the right to build up to three stories on the site because it’s zoned commercial even though adjacent streets are residential. 

Before approving the design, ZAB chair Andy Katz said the board would have voted differently if it had the authority to lower the height. 

“We did the best we could within the design review process,” he said. “This is unfortunately the best we could do.”