Last week, just before the California Coastal Commission denied a challenge to Mitt and Ann Romney’s plans to replace their La Jolla beachfront home with a new, 11,000-square-foot mansion, their attorney Matthew A. Peterson had nothing good to say about Anthony Ciani, the former Romney neighbor who brought the challenge.
Ciani, a Pacific Grove architect and beach access advocate who once lived across from the Romneys on Dunemere Drive, had claimed the Romneys, who purchased the house for $12 million in 2008, wrongly inflated their lot size by including 6,000 square feet of beach to build a larger home than would otherwise be permitted.
Ciani, who had designed two large beachfront homes in La Jolla, was a “hypocrite” and an “obstructionist” who was “misinformed” and “lying” when he told the Coastal Commission the Romneys did not own the beach in front of their home, Peterson said in an interview last week.
Ciani had taken the personal criticism in stride. In an interview, he called it “almost laughable.”
Peterson had also accused Ciani, who had included surveyors’ maps in his appeal, of violating the state business and professions code for “rendering an opinion on a survey map without being a surveyor.”
“He’s probably going to be investigated,” Peterson said in an interview last week. “You can’t just violate the law and get away with it.”
Peterson had also dismissed Ciani’s concerns about public access to the beach in front of the Romneys’ home. Though the Romneys were required to dedicate a public easement for “passive” beach use as a condition of their building permit, Ciani worried that including the word “passive” might allow the Romneys to limit some typical beach activities.
After the Coastal Commission voted 7-4 on Friday to allow the Romneys to proceed with the project, Ciani said he was considering filing a lawsuit to stop it.
But Tuesday, he ruled out legal action.
On Wednesday, Peterson announced that after a 45-minute phone conversation, he and Ciani had resolved some of Ciani’s lingering concerns. The word “passive,” said Peterson, would be dropped from the easement dedication language.
That pleased Ciani, who said the pair continued to disagree about whether the Romneys own the beachfront. “I told him I still don't believe they own the beach and he told me they do,” Ciani said. “And that’s it!”
Not entirely: There were a few last words from Peterson, who was in a considerably more conciliatory mood this week now that the coast is clear for his clients’ project.
“He is obviously a very talented and driven architect,” Peterson said of Ciani, “and I think now that his motives were honorable."
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