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Tomato, Tomahto
San Jose--During last week's City Council meeting, a group of citizens debated the proposed design review ordinance restricting new house sizes on a graduated scale (the bigger the house relative to lot size, the more the city would be involved). But what a head-scratcher for the council! When you have a 3,500-square-foot faux French Tudor in a neighborhood of bungalows, and one person refers to it as a "grand, stately home" among "little shacks" and another calls it "Godzilla," do you have (a) three signifiers and two signifieds; (b) one plutocratic jerk, one community-minded saint and a tawdry monument to consumerism; (c) a gentleman, a ruffian and a place in town; or (d) two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree?

Annexation Fever
Saratoga--When the owners of Mountain Winery started making noises about expanding the concert venue from 1,750 seats to 2,500, little did they know the city of Saratoga would respond by making eyes. The city is considering annexing the hilltop estate, citing interest in sales tax revenue as well as community involvement in setting volume levels and hours of operation (neighbors complain about noise from summertime concerts). If Mountain Winery refuses to be annexed, the county could squash its expansion plans.

North 40 No More
Los Gatos--After months of agonized wrangling, the North Forty Specific Plan was finally euthanized at last week's Town Council meeting. Intended to guide development of the parcel bounded by Highways 85 and 17 and Lark Avenue, the plan had commercial aspects that aroused the wrath of neighbors who voiced their preference for sports fields, open space and the like. Meanwhile, the threat of development remains unlikely, as the landowners still don't want to sell.

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Web extras to the December 16-22, 1999 issue of Metro.

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