SF property owner ordered to rebuild replica of home he tore down

A San Francisco property owner has been ordered to rebuild a replica of the home he tore down. The city says the home was architecturally important and the homeowner didn't follow the rules for tearing it down.

It's hard to tell from what's left, but San Francisco city leaders say the home that stood here had historic value and was torn down improperly. A view from Google Maps shows what the home looked like in 2011 and may give a clue as to what it may look like again.

The future of the property the subject of a hearing at Thursday's planning commission meeting. The home was originally designed by influential architect Richard Neutra in the 1930s.

The current owner bought the property in 2017 and said he had plans to remodel the home making it more than 3,000 square feet.

"I purchased the 49 Hopkins as a family home that would enable my family of six to move back to San Francisco. I've been stuck in limbo for over a year as this has progressed," said property owner Richard Johnston.

The property owner says he was following guidelines from a 2014 permit to remodel and his contractor demolished the home because it was simply unsafe. The commission didn't buy that  coming up with a unique proposal. "I would ask that my fellow commissioners consider taking a look at getting the original plans for the house from the Neutra archives and putting a replica back with a plaque out front," said Dennis Richard from the San Francisco Planning Commission.

Historical preservationists applauded the recommendation, saying the city is losing too many architecturally significant homes to real estate developers looking to turn a profit.

All that was left was the vote, the planning commission voting as when to have the replica home built.

No word on just how much that will cost or whether the owner would be able to recoup the $1.7 million purchase price for what will be a 900 square foot home.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin recently introduced legislation to get the planning commission and the Department of Building Inspection on the same page to make sure historic homes aren't targeted by developers and to preserve older rent-controlled housing stock.

KTVU did reach out to an attorney for the property owner but did not hear back.  

The owner has 30 days from the hearing to appeal the decision to the Board of Supervisors, no word on if he will be pursuing that appeal process. But, if he does try to sell the property, the new owner would be required to build that 1930's era replica on that lot.