Fighting City Hall

“I’m not against the library … I’m against the destruction of my family home,” says Elizabeth Heidt. … Heidt is a seventh-
generation Californian and mother of the sixth generation to occupy Casa Cristina, the adobe-style residence on Live Oak. For what seems like the umpteenth time in the 70-odd years her family has lived here, Heidt and her mother, Julia Maxwell, are in a pitched battle with City Hall over the fate of their beautiful creekside home. … At the dinning room table in Casa Cristina on Sunday just after the Farmers Market, Heidt and Maxwell describe their latest plight in a story peppered with the history of Walnut Creek and the state itself. For a relative newcomer like myself, it strikes odd that the Council would play such hardball with a family that helped pioneer California and that has already given up its orchard for the current library. … Maxwell, a teacher, nurse and now antique dealer, though, is having none of it. She’s stubborn, and younger than her mother Betty French, who into her 90s beat back City efforts to force her out. “They don’t want to deal with you when you’re in your 90s,” Heidt says to her mother. “They don’t want to deal with me now and I’m only 66,” Maxwell says with a grin. “I’m going to stop them.” And if stubborn fails, she’s ready to play to pity. “I’m a senior citizen living in my own home with the support of my family …” … And though the family might not always see eye-to-eye on how to deal with the City, they’ve agreed on one thing. Casa Cristina lives on, even if the City forces them to load it up on a truck. …

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