Fairfax may impose strict building rules

February 23, 2008 12:11:29 AM PST
A North Bay town may take steps to protect people and property from storms in the years ahead. Just how big a home is allowed to be, could depend on where it is.

Mudslides, like the one from 2005 storms are a part of Fairfax's history. A tarp on Tamalpais Road, where a massive house slid, is a constant reminder of it.

"That's a very dangerous thing in the community and we're prone to it because we're so hilly. So we have to be careful with how we allow construction on the hillsides just so we make sure everybody's safe," said Lew Tremaine from Fairfax Town Council.

The Fairfax Town Council is trying to learn from the past. Members are now considering a new ordinance that would limit the size of a hillside home based on the slope.

Right now there are no such restrictions. They say it's the best way to maintain Fairfax's small town aesthetic and safety.

"Just last year, during the rainy season, my neighbor here, part of their property fell on another person's house," said Fairfax resident Caitlin Brady.

Sliding hillsides seem to be commonplace for those living in the hills. The ordinance aims to limit erosion caused by construction and storm water run off.

Skeptics fear the ordinance would be too intrusive.

"You should b able to do what you want on your land," said Fairfax resident Demetrios Sgouros.

"People don't want overpowering monstrosities on the land and they're not affected, until they want to add a bedroom," said architect Rich Rushton.

An ordinance would likely hurt architect Rich Rushton's business. Still, he insists, the hillsides are stable.

This ordinance is by no means a done deal. A sub-committee will be formed next month and they'll come up with an actual proposal that the town council will vote on in early summer.