San Jose Resident Launches Petition to Save Hillsborough’s Famed Flintstone House

Earlier this month, the city of Hillsborough in San Mateo county sued the owner of the eccentric “Flintstone House,” calling it an “eyesore.”

Now, a vocal group of supporters are petitioning to save it.

In a Change.org petition created last week, San Jose resident Helen Garcia voiced her support for Florence Fang, the iconic property’s owner. The petition has already racked up over 12,000 signatures, and it seems likely to reach its goal of 15,000.

“Personally, I would fight to keep these statues up and leave these owners alone,” Garcia said in the online petition.

As a child, Garcia said, she remembers wanting to catch a glimpse of the house every time her family drove by it on Interstate 280. The house was originally built in 1976. Now, her daughter looks forward to seeing the house. In particular, she is a fan of the T-Rex statue.

“Removing the statues would devastate her and many of our childhood memories we have of this beautiful home,” Garcia explained.

The affluent town of Hillsborough sued Fang earlier this month claiming she failed to get the proper permits to build on the property. Since Fang purchased the so-called Flintstone House in 2017, she has added 15-foot dinosaur statues and a large sign reading “Yabba Dabba Doo.” The additions, the lawsuit says, are an “eyesore.”

In stating their reasons for signing the petition, supporters chided the city of Hillsborough for spoiling the fun. “Let the owners do as they wish to their house. They pay taxes and aren’t hurting anyone!” one commenter said. “This house has been around since I was a kid. It brings a smile to my face when I drive by and it’s their property so they can do whatever they want with it,” another commenter added.

In a public statement, Fang thanked her supporters.

“From all your supportive comments, it made me realize that I am not the only one fighting for the legendary Flintstones. It is truly an American memory that makes people smile and feel good about themselves,” she said. “Let’s keep Fred and the Dino alive and work together to keep on smiling. I will fight the best I can.”

7 Comments

  1. To me it’s clear that City Attorney Mark Hudak was asleep during his law school class at University of Virginia when the broad scope of the First Amendment was discussed.

    Though Mr. Hudak may not understand it but human beings with artistic skills in using their brains and their hands created the dinosaur statues and Flintstone character statues and that use of brains and hands is an “expression” protected by the First Amendment. The exercise of that unique human ability to use one’s hands and brain to create 3-D figures is art, even if Mr. Hudak and his bosses don’t like that art.

    The right of an owner of a piece of art to display that artwork on his/her real estate is protected by the First Amendment. Hudak’s demand that the property owner obtain “permits and approvals” of the art works before they are placed outside on a property is an unlawful prior restraint of both the artist and the artwork’s owners right of free expression under the First Amendment. If Mr. Hudak had bothered to do legal research in the Federal case law he would have realized his opinions and actions are dead wrong under the First Amendment. The dinosaur statues and the Flinstone character statues are works of art and the City of Hillsborough violates the First Amendment by punishing the property owner for displaying them. The First Amendment prohibits the city from exercising any discretion as to whether the city will allow the art works to be displayed because the city approves of their physical appearance.

    A Federal court can issue an injunction against the city and Mr. Hudak’s interference with the property owner’s First Amendment rights, and the Federal court can, after a trial, enter a money judgment against the city for violating the art work owner’s First Amendment rights. Those principles are made clear in a U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York decision. That court decision, linked below, cites many other Federal cases where the First Amendment protected artists and art owners First Amendment right to display artworks. The cases DO NOT in any way, shape or form allow a city to pass judgment on the aesthetic quality of the art work.

    Rudy Giuliani, an attorney and former Mayor of New York City learned that the First Amendment protects both artists and art work owners when Giuliani tried to cut-off city funding of the Booklyn Museum and evict the museum from its rented building because the museum’s directors asserted their and the museum non-profit corporation’s First Amendment right to ignore Mayor Giuliani demand that art work depicting Roman Catholic icons in an unfavorable light. U.S. District Court Judge Nina Gershon issued as searing opinion while granting an injunction against Mayor Giuliani and the City of New York’s attempts to punish the Brooklyn Museum for displaying art work which would be offensive to Roman Catholics.

    The facts in that Federal court case can be summarized as follows: In 1999, then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani objected to the “Sensation” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. He was particularly offended by a painting of the Virgin Mary which incorporated elephant dung, a ceremonial technique used by artist Chris Ofili. Mayor Giuliani instructed the city staff to demand that the art museum cancel the show. When it refused to do so, the city withheld about $500,000 in funding. The money had been budgeted for general support of the museum. U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon ordered the funding reinstated, finding that the city had violated the First Amendment. There is no Federal constitutional issue more grave than the effort by government officials to censor works of expression and to threaten the vitality of a major cultural institution, as punishment for failing to abide by government demand for orthodoxy,” Gershon said in her written opinion in the case called Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences v. City of New York. See the full court order and opinion at https://img.nyed.uscourts.gov/files/opinions/99cv6071.pdf

    • Interesting argument, but I dunno.

      Somehow, cities seem to keep getting away with zoning.

      There was a case somewhere in the last year where a city or an HOA (I forget which) tried to prevent a veteran from flying the American flag. My recollection is that the flag suppressors prevailed.

      • “The exercise of that unique human ability to use one’s hands and brain to create 3-D figures is art”…. REALLY??

  2. I think heavily-watered Algerian Ivy should be closely planted all around the habitat and statues thereby giving everything that truly ‘jungle experience’ for a truly authentic effect! Oh, and don’t ever trim the ivy!!

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