Second San Bruno homeowner ready to rebuild after pipeline blast 

The Magoolaghan family is a giant leap closer to coming home.

Bill and Betti Magoolaghan last week became the second homeowners to win the city’s approval to rebuild in the Glenview neighborhood, a milestone in the return to normalcy for the parents with four children ages 4 months to 6 years.

“We’re really excited about getting back to our home, getting back to our lives, just having a new start back where we belong,” said Bill Magoolaghan, 47.

They are taking the opportunity to add a second story to their house at 1611 Claremont Drive, which is still standing but had to be gutted after the Sept. 9 disaster that killed eight people.

The expansion will bring the three-bedroom, two-bath house to 3,097 square feet with five bedrooms and 3½ baths. But the larger design isn’t being universally welcomed.

Next-door neighbor Sharon Ann Baum said in a letter to the city that she doesn’t want to prevent rebuilding, but does want officials to use “good judgment and common sense.”

“If the city allows the building of these massive two-story ‘mini-mansions’ on the footprint of the PG&E fire and explosion,” Baum wrote, “they will not blend in with the existing homes in the neighborhood and defeat the purpose of the residential guidelines.” The family’s new design complies with all the city’s building rules and includes architectural features intended to reduce the building’s mass, Community Development Director Aaron Aknin said.

Magoolaghan, for his part, also doesn’t want to see “giant Southern mansions” changing the neighborhood, but said people have growing families or just want to “build their house a little bit better.”

It’s likely that more projects are coming soon. The city is working with architects for about a dozen other displaced Glenview residents, and most of the new designs are about the same as before or slightly larger, Aknin said.

The Magoolaghans hope to start construction in June.

“It’s starting to happen, and people are getting excited about it,” Mayor Jim Ruane said. “We’re looking forward to it.”

Like the owners of the destroyed home at 1710 Claremont Drive, whose rebuilding plans were approved last month, the Magoolaghans benefited from an expedited permit process that allowed the architectural review committee to approve the plans recently.

The process isn’t over for Magoolaghans, now living in Belmont, who are still negotiating with their insurance company on compensation for the old house. He said the rebuild project will cost about $600,000.

Their decision to return wasn’t easy, and Bill Magoolaghan understands why some traumatized neighbors aren’t coming back. But ultimately, it was about the location, the schools and their fellow Glenview residents.

“The reality is, as a result of this event, we’ve become so close to all of our neighbors,” he said, “and we really feel like we’re all in this together.”

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Shaun Bishop

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