Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wants to demolish three houses to build a swimming pool, records show

PALO ALTO — Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wants to add to her sprawling estate by demolishing three adjacent homes she owns to build a swimming pool and pool house that could cost nearly $1.6 million.

But so far, Palo Alto planning officials have said no, pointing out that a pool doesn’t justify removing homes from the city’s housing stock. Like other Bay Area cities, Palo Alto is under intense pressure from the state to produce thousands more homes to address a housing shortage crisis that has driven many families from the region.

Since July 2020, the former executive who left Yahoo in 2017 with a golden parachute of $23 million has twice applied for permits to demolish three of the four townhouses next to her family home on Addison Avenue to make way to a swimming pool and a single-unit house with attached garage.

One of four identical two-story townhouses owner Marissa Mayer owns next to her home is adorned with a “Love” sign in Palo Alto, Calif., Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. The former CEO of Yahoo would like to demolish three of the four townhouses and intends to build a swimming pool and a pool house on the property. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt said that while people can buy adjacent properties like Mayer, the city doesn’t allow them to demolish multiple homes to build one huge one or replace them with other structures like than swimming pools.

“We have no way to stop people from owning adjacent properties, and we don’t have a fence requirement,” Burt said, adding that whatever Mayer and others do with the extra land must comply with city housing ordinances.

“Presumably now they can come back with something better in line with our current code, and you know there’s still good latitude as to what they can do with the property,” he said. .

Mayer, who resigned from Yahoo several years ago after Verizon bought the search engine company for $4.5 billion, isn’t the first Palo Alto tech mogul to try to create a domain. sprawling in recent years.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been forced to cut plans to rebuild four Palo Alto homes around his home after a city advisory board raised concerns about his attempt to create a ‘complex’ .

Zuckerberg wanted to replace four homes he owns on Hamilton Avenue and Edgewood Drive, but ultimately he was only allowed to replace two homes with two new one-story homes, in keeping with the “size and scale of properties in the region”, city officials. noted. At that time, it was a fundamentally different project from the original one.

For Mayer, it wasn’t the first time his plans had hit a snag. Mayer stirred the Palo Alto community in 2018 when she demanded to turn the city’s oldest morgue near her home into a private club for working women and their families. The plan sparked a public outcry, and after a town council discussion about it in 2018, Mayer scrapped it.

Mayer has been buying property in Palo Alto for years. She bought three of four homes on Addison Avenue in 2011 for around $800,000 each, then paid $6.5 million in 2020 for the fourth. She hopes to replace the townhouses with a granny flat and pool and remodel the fourth townhouse.

The home of former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, the brown roof in the center, is visible in this Google map, also showing four townhouses on the right that also belong to Mayer in Palo Alto, California. Mayer wants to add to her sprawling estate by demolishing three of the adjacent townhouses she owns to build a swimming pool and a pool house. (Google Maps)

In emails between Mayer representatives and Palo Alto planners, the city said the proposal would violate its “no net loss” policy because it would lead to the removal of two residential units.

This policy is part of the city’s Housing Accountability Act, which was passed in 1982 and amended in 2017. The act aims to promote infill development by speeding up the approval process for new homes as long as they replace existing ones and there is no net loss.

Mayer did not return a request for comment, and a spokesperson for his family said they were continuing “constructive engagement with relevant departments in the City of Palo Alto.”

in an email to the city obtained by The Mercury News, Mayer’s attorney, Christine Wade, says that “although the redevelopment of the property would result in the loss of two existing residential units, the project meets development standards objectives and the city’s mandate to bring new uses into compliance.

Burt noted that while Mayer and his team could still come back with a plan more in line with city rules, they haven’t yet.

For the wealthy, Burt noted, there are options that don’t turn Palo Alto into a city of big tracts.

“We still have large lots in the city that are available for purchase for people with an unlimited amount,” Burt said.