Flintstone House lawsuit settled — the dinosaurs can stay
[June 27, 2021: Emily Mibach]
Fred Flintstone will get to keep his dinosaurs after the town of Hillsborough and the owner of the Flintstone House, Florence Fang, quietly settled a lawsuit from the town that claimed her dinosaur sculptures and other landscaping changes had violated local code.
The settlement agreement said that Fang gets a $125,000 from the town. And the agreement says that when she files new permits for the offending backyard changes for the home, they will be approved.
The home is located on Berryessa Way and can be seen from I-280.
The controversy began in late 2017 when a code enforcement officer noticed that Fang, the former owner of the Independent and Examiner newspapers, had added the large metal dinosaurs and made other changes to the property.
In addition to the dinos, town officials took issue with a sign that says “Yabba Dabba Doo,” figures of Flintstone characters, a staircase, a parking strip, a deck and other additions to the home’s front and back yard.
Since Fang’s work involved more than 10,000 square feet on the property, it was determined that she should have sought the planning department’s approval for the changes, according to documents filed with the initial lawsuit from March 2019.
The town issued three “stop work” orders, which led to the lawsuit.
Racial discrimination alleged
Fang countersued the town, claiming she had been discriminated against based on race. At an April 2019 press conference at the Flintstone House, Fang’s attorney Angela Alioto said there are likely other residents who didn’t get permits for their statues or renovations but are not facing the same sort of harassment from the town because they are not Chinese.
“Or is it really about treating Mrs. Fang differently because of her dream and that she’s Chinese and this is Hillsborough?” Alioto said at the time.
The story attracted international news coverage. But the settlement, which was reached earlier this year, has received no media attention.
On April 12, the town council unanimously approved the settlement and the case was dismissed in San Mateo County Superior Court on April 27.
But no announcement was made by either Fang or the city because of a gag order on the fourth page of the lawsuit, saying that neither side shall reach out to the press, and if the press does reach out to them, to respond with the following canned statement.
“The parties have reached an amicable resolution of the case to the satisfaction of all the parties, such that the improvements made to the Flintstone House will be permitted to remain.”
As part of the settlement, Fang agreed to dismiss her claims against two city employees who she said impeded her initial permit attempts and to drop the claims regarding racial discrimination. The settlement agreement states the $125,000 Fang is receiving is “solely to cover expenses incurred by Flintstone related to the lawsuit, and shall not be as a payment related to any claim for discrimination.”
Hillsborough was initially represented by Mark Hudak, who was replaced by attorney Scott Ditfurth. Former San Francisco Supervisor Angela Alioto’s firm represented Fang, with Alioto and Steven Robinson working on the case.
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