HILLSBOROUGH (KPIX 5) — The owner of the iconic “Flintstone House” in San Mateo County has filed a cross-complaint against the town of Hillsborough, alleging race discrimination and violation of the Fair Housing Act, according to court documents obtained by KPIX 5.
The owner of the home, Florence Fang announced last month she was planning to file a lawsuit against the city, alleging the city infringed on her first amendment rights of freedom of speech when it filed suit describing Fang’s home at 45 Berryessa Way as a “highly visible eyesore” and a “public nuisance.”
The counter lawsuit was filed at the San Mateo County courthouse Wednesday. It alleges Hillsborough city officials discriminated against Fang because of her ethnicity, actively worked to deny her right to build on her property, and wrongly enforced building codes that she claims do not apply to her property.
Previously, the Town of Hillsborough said neighbor complaints about additions of backyard statues of dinosaurs, along with landscaping additions, led to an administrative hearing panel which decided the additions had to be removed.
“The town of Hillsborough has treated Mrs. Fang despicably and she is fighting back against violations of her constitutional right to the free pursuit of happiness at her private property, the ‘Flintstone House,’ and attempts by the Town to demolish it,” said her attorney, Angela Alioto.
The lawsuit claims the Town of Hillsborough had and has a practice of discrimination against property owners who are not Caucasians, specifically Asians. Including but not limited to Mrs. Fang.
The complaint accuses Hillsborough Building Official Tim Anderson of having “a history of discriminatory animus” toward Asians and “has told at least one individual of Asian origin that ‘You have to speak English when you are in Hillsborough.‘”
Fang said that shortly after purchasing the distinctive home in June 2017, she submitted a proposal to build a retaining wall, which was rejected. Instead, the lawsuit claims City Planner Elizabeth Cullinan encouraged her to tear down the house altogether.
“When this began, I thought the Flintstone House was what I needed for my energy—but I have learned that it gives energy to a world that needs joy,” Fang said.
Following Wednesday’s lawsuit filing, Hillsborough Assistant City Attorney Mark Hudak offered the following statement. “The Town of Hillsborough strongly denies that it has a policy of discrimination against Asians or any other ethnic or racial group. Our staff is respectful to all residents. The allegations against Ms. Cullinan and Mr. Anderson are wrong and offensive.
“The cross-complaint seeks to divert attention from the core fact: the owner of 45 Berryessa install a large project without going through design review and without getting required building permits. This process applies to all projects in Hillsborough, regardless of the ethnic or racial background of the property owner. Unfounded accusations of discrimination will not excuse her failure to go through the permitting process.”