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Rob Lowe Gains Approval for California Dream Estate

Actor Rob Lowe narrowly won approval from planners for a massive dream estate on his $8.5 million Montecito lot despite a neighbor's complaint that the mansion would spoil his panoramic ocean view.

"I've always been a big believer in the process. I'm obviously pleased with the outcome," the former star of "The West Wing" said after Wednesday's 3-2 vote by the Montecito Planning Commission.

The vote came after a daylong commission debate over whether the proposed 14,260-square-foot estate would overwhelm the Picacho Lane neighborhood, which is also home to mystery writer Sue Grafton.

Lowe's proposal calls for a 24-foot-high privacy hedge that would screen their estate from neighbor Fred Gluck, former head of the international consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Gluck said the hedge would partially block views of the Pacific.

The complaint blossomed into a debate on the expanding size of Montecito homes.

Lowe, who purchased the 3.4-acre, undeveloped property for about $8.5 million last year, told the commission that Gluck first complained about potential view loss, then on the size of the home.

Lowe noted that Gluck's 8,577-square-foot home also exceeds Montecito guidelines for what planners call floor-area ratios.

Lowe's proposal is to build a 9,860-square-foot home with a 2,000-square-foot basement, an 800-square-foot guest house, an 800-square-foot second-story cabana with an 800-square-foot garage below. There will also be a swimming pool, spa and tennis court.

On Wednesday, three commissioners sided with Lowe and said the estate was compatible with the neighborhood. Two agreed with Gluck that the project sets a disturbing precedent.