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Newport Home Will Have to Be Cut Down to Size

City orders the roofline of a three-story house lowered after alleged fraud by the architect. That means eliminating the top level, owners say.

November 27, 2003|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

A Newport Beach couple must remove the top floor of their custom three-story, ocean-view home to comply with a city demand because it says their architect submitted fraudulent information about the structure's height.

Even though the structure exceeds the 29-foot height limit by only about a foot and a half -- the exact measurement is in dispute -- the owners said the entire top floor will have to be removed to bring the structure into compliance with the building code. The cost of the work may exceed $100,000.

The home is one of several dozen in Newport Beach that were designed by architect Andrew Goetz, who, according to the city attorney's office, indicated with falsified building documents that the structures did not exceed the city's height limits, even though they were later found to be in violation of the building code height limit.

The City Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance forgiving half a dozen homeowners whose structures exceed the city's height limit by 5% or less.

But there was no such forgiveness for James and Susan Hart, whose dream home at 202 Fernleaf Ave. is 85% completed and has a view of the tip of the peninsula, China Cove and the Newport Pier.

Because their home exceeds the height limit by more than 5%, even though by only a few inches, the City Council ordered the house's roofline lowered. Compliance, the Harts said, will mean elimination of the third floor.

The couple said the city shares some of the blame for their predicament. Early in construction, Susan Hart said, neighbors complained that the house was too tall, and the city ordered several height surveys.

Each time, Hart said, the city declared their house was within the height limit. But apparently the city was relying on allegedly faulty base data submitted by Goetz.

Goetz was arrested Oct. 15 and released on $10,000 bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on multiple felony counts of forgery.

Hart, who says the troubles with the house have cost "tens and tens of thousands of dollars," said she has no idea why Goetz would falsify the building plans.

"We didn't ask him to change the numbers. We didn't ask for extra height," said Hart, a property manager. "All we wanted was to build our house."

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