Yabba Dabba Don’t: California Town Rejects Flintstones House

Yabba Dabba Don’t: California Town Rejects Flintstones House

News Staff

Towering dinosaurs stand among fanciful mushrooms in the sloping backyard. A life-sized Fred Flintstone welcomes visitors near the front door. And by the driveway on the lawn is a giant “Yabba Dabba Do” sign in orange, purple and red.

The latest battle in the war between government rules and property rights is playing out in a posh San Francisco suburb, where a retired publishing mogul has installed an elaborate homage to “The Flintstones” family. The bold, bulbous house is surrounded by Stone Age sculptures inspired by the 1960s cartoon, along with aliens and other oddities.

The controversy has sparked international media coverage and an online petition signed by thousands to preserve the attention-grabbing property, visible from a nearby highway.

The 2,730-square-foot house itself is not at stake, but the town of Hillsborough says Florence Fang’s multimillion-dollar property is a public nuisance and an eyesore. Officials filed a lawsuit in state court last month to make her remove the unpermitted garden installations. Fang does not live in the house but uses it to entertain.

An attorney for the 84-year-old says snobby officials want to squelch Fang’s constitutional right to enjoy her yard, and promises a vigorous fight.

“Mrs. Fang has made people smile, she’s giving them joy. What’s not to love about Dino, who acts like a dog?” said Angela Alioto, a former San Francisco supervisor. “What is wrong with these people?”

The oddly shaped house, currently painted red and purple, was designed by architect William Nicholson and built in 1976. Fang, a prominent philanthropist who once published the San Francisco Examiner, bought the property in June 2017 for $2.8 million.

The whimsical front yard has statues of Barney and Betty Rubble, along with Fred and Wilma. A sign reads “No Dino Allowed” and features a purple cartoon dinosaur. Colorful mushroom sculptures dot the front and back. A steep staircase, deemed unsafe by town officials, leads to a garden of giant metal prehistoric animals.

Mark Hudak, an attorney for Hillsborough, says the town prides itself on its rural, woodsy feel, and rules are in place “so neighbors don’t have to look at your version of what you would like to have, and you don’t have to look at theirs.”

The case is simple, he said.

An attorney for the 84-year-old says snobby officials want to squelch Fang’s constitutional right to enjoy her yard, and promises a vigorous fight.

“Mrs. Fang has made people smile, she’s giving them joy. What’s not to love about Dino, who acts like a dog?” said Angela Alioto, a former San Francisco supervisor. “What is wrong with these people?”

The oddly shaped house, currently painted red and purple, was designed by architect William Nicholson and built in 1976. Fang, a prominent philanthropist who once published the San Francisco Examiner, bought the property in June 2017 for $2.8 million.

The whimsical front yard has statues of Barney and Betty Rubble, along with Fred and Wilma. A sign reads “No Dino Allowed” and features a purple cartoon dinosaur. Colorful mushroom sculptures dot the front and back. A steep staircase, deemed unsafe by town officials, leads to a garden of giant metal prehistoric animals.

Mark Hudak, an attorney for Hillsborough, says the town prides itself on its rural, woodsy feel, and rules are in place “so neighbors don’t have to look at your version of what you would like to have, and you don’t have to look at theirs.”

The case is simple, he said.

David Levine, who specializes in civil litigation and remedies at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, said property owners flout permit regulations all the time. Usually, they pay a fine and correct any safety issues.

And as for which party might prevail in court?

“You have to figure out: Who’s the twit? They’re going to rule against the one that’s being a twit,” he said. “Is the twit the homeowner that ignored all the orders or the twits saying, ‘We don’t like Wilma and Betty?’ “