Reason to Celebrate at Playboy Mansion
Party on, Hef!
Neighbors’ charges that Hugh Hefner is running a commercial party business out of his famed Playboy Mansion have been rejected by Los Angeles officials who say they inspected “every square foot” of the place without finding anything illegal going on.
Wednesday’s announcement ends a nine-month city investigation. But it is unlikely to end the controversy over the seemingly nonstop series of nighttime soirees staged at Hefner’s 31-room, Tudor-style Holmby Hills estate.
Attendance at the parties can range from a few dozen of Hefner’s friends cavorting in the mansion’s swimming pool and grotto to more than 1,000 guests dining and dancing beneath tents erected on the nearly six-acre grounds off Charing Cross Road.
The big blowouts bother neighbors, who counted 22 such parties during one three-month period last year.
In complaints filed with the city, nearby homeowners contended that Playboy Enterprises Inc., which owns the mansion, had turned it into a money-making business.
They asserted that the place was being rented out for corporate and trade functions and for political and charity fund-raisers staffed by Playboy’s own caterers and parking valets.
Playboy officials denied that their corporation or Hefner profited from outsiders’ use of the mansion, where the 75-year-old founder of the men’s magazine has lived for three decades. They argued that the Playboy Mansion is a swinging bachelor’s pad, not a business.
City zoning investigators agree.
“Inspection of the site revealed the building is used primarily as a residence,” Dave Keim, the city’s chief of code enforcement, said Wednesday.
“After doing fairly extensive investigation we could not find any evidence of zoning or building code violations with reference to the complaints. They allowed us complete access to the premises and we inspected just about every square foot.”
Keim said Los Angeles building and safety ordinances do not regulate parties. “There is no definition in the zoning code how many parties you can have a year,” he said.
The city initiated a series of meetings between Playboy and the Holmby-Westwood Property Owners Assn., Keim said, “to try to find a way for Playboy to mitigate” problems cited by nearby homeowners.
Playboy reports that it puts up a big curtain to tone down music at events and dispatches a technician armed with a sound-measuring decibel meter around the property.
Sandy Brown, president of the homeowners group, said things have improved slightly. But Hefner’s neighbors still suspect that the Playboy Mansion has turned into a party rental hall.
“The city inspectors don’t open up Playboy’s books and look at their records. We’re not surprised they didn’t find anything with their physical inspection. You’ll have to go to court to get that kind of disclosure,” Brown said.
She said neighbors have not decided whether to pursue their complaints in a possible lawsuit, although “people up there are very affluent and smart and often work with lawyers. It would not be a surprise if things don’t quiet down that’s what they will do.”
Among residents’ concerns is the employment of off-duty Los Angeles police officers as security guards at the parties. Their presence puts a damper on enforcement of noise and traffic laws around the Playboy Mansion by on-duty officers, she said.
It also adds to the noise problem, she said, when off-duty officers spread the word that buxom beauties are present for outdoor parties. “They notify their buddies in police helicopters and neighbors have helicopters hovering over their heads,” Brown said.
Playboy officials acknowledged that the mansion is a police chopper magnet.
“But 90% of the time there’s nothing to see but green grass outside the mansion,” said Bill Farley, spokesman for Playboy Enterprises.
“There may be 15 playmates in bunny costumes, but they don’t live at the mansion. They don’t sunbathe in the nude. It isn’t as sexy a place in the daytime. At night it gets quite interesting.”
The Playboy Mansion’s closest neighbor approves of what goes on there, Farley added. She’s Kimberly Hefner, Hugh’s wife. The couple are separated, but Hefner purchased the house next door for her and their two sons, Marston, 11 and Cooper, 9.
Most days, Farley said, the only noise at the mansion is coming from the boys and their playmates. Pint-size ones.
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