Palo Alto thwarts Zuckerberg's housing ‘compound' plans

Mark Zuckerberg wants to demolish and rebuild four houses that he owns in Palo Alto, but the city board is saying not so fast.

They worry he's creating a "compound," which wouldn't be consistent with the city's zoning and land use rules. This development has left Zuckerberg—Facebook’s chairman as well as philanthropist, scrambling to make revisions. 

So it's back to the drawing board for ‘Zuck’. His plan had been to tear down the four houses surrounding his own, putting up smaller cottages instead.

The city’s Architectural Review Board is recommending the idea be shot down, saying it won't support the building of a "compound."

The design had a lot of fences that partially blocked off or turned the development away from the street, which was part of the concern.

Zuckerberg initially bought the properties for about $43 million, as a way to ensure his privacy.
The new, smaller structures could have been used for guests or entertaining.

For neighbors like Steve Eittreim, the project raised some red flags.

“I think it was the right decision. I just don't like to see homes in Palo Alto turned into large compounds for wealthy people. I have nothing against Zuckerberg,” he said.

In fact, some neighbors say they support the project specifically because they like Zuckerberg and his wife.

“As far as I’m concerned, they're wonderful neighbors and we have the benefit of these nice guards up and down the street,” said Martha Tolles who lives in the neighborhood.

“Mark Zuckerberg and his wife have really done great things for the community and I think it would be a tasteful project. If they just made some revisions that would make it more appealing,” Tolles said.

KTVU contacted the city Friday afternoon, the architects said that was their intent, to revise, and resubmit their project.

“We anticipate they're going to make some changes to the fence design. They might also look at differentiating the homes in terms of color or materials from each other a little bit more,” said a city spokesperson.

Still, those changes won't save the existing homes from demolition and for that neighbors say they're sad.

“Changes happen as time goes on, changes are good, but character of a neighborhood is important for the people who live here,” said one neighbor, Stu Beattie.

The revised plan will likely go back before the architectural review board in November.