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Zuckerberg's "compound" raises red flags for housing board

Posted September 17

— An advisory board recommended a California city refuse Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's plans to demolish and rebuild four homes around his property because of privacy concerns, saying it won't support the building of a "compound."

Zuckerberg bought the Palo Alto homes in 2013 for $30 million after learning that a developer planned to build a neighboring house tall enough to have a view of his master bedroom, the Mercury News reported (http://bayareane.ws/2ceY6FK).

He planned to replace those structures with much smaller two-story and single-story homes that would be used as an extension of the family's living, cooking, dining and entertaining quarters, said Kathy Scott, of the Walker-Warner Architects firm working with Zuckerberg on the project.

"The idea is just to expand our client's capacity to enjoy the property," Scott said.

Palo Alto's Architectural Review Board members said plans for all four homes meet architecture standards, but a single family using all four properties would create a compound and ruin the single-family home feel of the neighborhood.

The homes "are part of a larger compound," board member Peter Baltay said. "This is something you might find in Atherton (Calif.): A large estate, a series of guest houses, recreational facilities, movie theaters surrounding a house."

Atherton, which neighbors Palo Alto, is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States and home to sprawling mansions.

The board voted Thursday 3-1 to recommend the city doesn't approve Zuckerberg's plan.

The project will return to the city's planning director, who will decide whether to advance it.

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