LONG BEACH — Mark Bergendahl wants to build a comfortable two-story place for himself and his bride-to-be near his mother's home.
He believes he has found the perfect site on pricey Treasure Island in Naples. It is a parcel that one planning commissioner called "definitely one of the most beautiful estates in the City of Long Beach."
But the 27-year-old businessman's plans to use a portion of his mother's $3.5-million estate, on the southwest corner of the exclusive waterfront community, has created a stir on the normally placid island.
Sixty-nine neighbors petitioned the city "to express serious concern" about the project at 11 Sea Isle Drive. They asked that approval be withheld, according to the petition, "until we can be assured that this project will not adversely affect the existing uses of the bay and be compatible with this community."
Despite a recommendation by the city staff that Bergendahl's subdivision be approved, Planning Commission members sided with the neighbors. They delayed their decision until Jan. 14 so Bergendahl could have time to explain the project to his neighbors.
Among the neighbors' concerns are whether the new house will have enough parking and the standard 40-foot frontage on Alamitos Bay. They also worry about his plans to extend the seawall on the west side to create a larger yard.
In addition, Bergendahl is likely to face what neighbor Rodger R. Lowe termed an "emotional" response from some Neapolitans who are resistant to change.
George Hart, an attorney who lives on Vista del Golfo more than a block away, said of the Bergendahl estate, "I'd just rather see it stay the way it is."
Bergendahl, a soft-spoken Long Beach native and USC graduate, said he thinks there may be a big misunderstanding.
"I think it's important to be on good terms with the neighbors. I feel remorseful I did not meet them before," he said.
He said he wants to convince them that he plans to make a long-term commitment to Long Beach. He said they should not view the new home as "building and running" in a speculative real estate venture.
"It is not a mere investment maneuver," he said. "Naples is a place where I have spent a lot of time. . . . It's a place I inevitably would like to end up. I would like to raise a family there."
His parents, Allan and Gloria Bergendahl, bought the traditional brick home with one of the best views and largest parcels of land in Naples in 1984.
The house, built in 1928, is on property that faces the channel to the south and Alamitos Bay Beach to the west. The family put the house up for sale briefly last year after the death of Allan Bergendahl, an entrepreneur whose business ventures included development of a Reno casino.
Besides dividing the lots, the Bergendahls have proposed adding nearly 4,000 square feet to their property by extending the seawall 28 feet on the west side so that it is flush with those of the other properties along Sea Isle Drive.
But Bergendahl said he does not think the family will proceed with the seawall extension and landfill. He said he has questions about the feasibility of the plan.
His architect, Brent Sears, said that the landfill plan has been complicated by an opinion from the Long Beach city attorney's office, which contends that only a new state law could allow construction of an extended seawall. The State Lands Commission also would be involved in the process.
He said, however, that he is "a little concerned" that the Planning Commission delayed a decision on the subdivision. He said it should have been approved because it is in compliance with all city zoning and density regulations.
Neighbors said that other issues such as parking must be resolved first. Lowe, who owns property immediately north of the Bergendahl estate, said Sea Isle is gated off from the rest of Treasure Island and has only nine houses. There are few parking spaces.
Daris Zinsmeyer, who lives on Naples Canal, said she thinks the area is already too congested.
"There's really no room for another family to be on this road," she said. "It's not a big road . . . I'm not sure the Fire Department would be able to get by."
Sears said each of the Bergendahl houses would have adequate garage space. The current house already has a five-car garage plus three other parking spaces, he said.
Neighbor George Hart said that with about 55 homes crowded into the compact space of Treasure Island, a division of the Bergendahl estate would create parking havoc and other problems.
"They bought the place knowing what it was," Hart said. "It's a shame to take a big piece of property when there is a big home on it and chop it up."