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California

L.A. revokes construction permits for hilltop house in Bel-Air

Bel Air house
The unfinished nearly 30,000-square-foot residence being developed by Mohamed Hadid in Bel-Air is on hold after city officials pulled his permits.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety has revoked the construction permits for a hilltop house in Bel-Air that neighbors contend has destabilized the slope.

Developer Mohamed Hadid’s project drew complaints and lawsuits from neighbors and, earlier this summer, the attention of Councilman Paul Koretz. Building officials in July notified Hadid of their intent to revoke the permits but gave him time to make his case. On Wednesday, the agency posted revocations on its website.

Benjamin A. Reznik, an attorney for Hadid, said the city’s action was premature because the developer’s consultants were still attempting to clear up confusion with the city.

“We had indicated to them that we’re very close to a solution and that they ought to provide a little more time,” he said.

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FOR THE RECORD:

Bel-Air permits: An article in the Sept. 11 LATExtra section about Los Angeles’ decision to revoke construction permits for a home in Bel-Air gave the wrong middle initial for attorney Benjamin Reznik, who is representing developer Mohamed Hadid. His middle initial is M, not A. —
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Victor De la Cruz, the attorney for Joseph Horacek III, a leading foe of the Hadid project, said the city has been known to retract permits for “components of properties.” It is unusual, however, for an entire construction project to be shut down in this way.

Luke Zamperini, chief inspector, said Hadid could resubmit his applications and, if they satisfied officials, have his permits reactivated. But Zamperini said the city “got tired of waiting for them to provide us information.”

For now, Zamperini said, “he can’t go forward at all.”

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Months ago, entertainment attorney Horacek, whose house sits just below the house that Hadid is building on Strada Vecchia, began bombarding the city with complaints about the project. He alleged that Hadid had illegally demolished an existing house, then graded and hauled away tons of dirt, with the aim of altering the hill’s topography so that he could build a taller house than would otherwise be allowed.

Horacek said he feared that Hadid’s 30,000-square-foot spec project, which Horacek dubbed the “Starship Enterprise,” could come tumbling down and squash his 4,000-square-foot, Balinese-inspired contemporary. Already, he said, portions of the hill had slid onto his street.

“They can submit as many fantasy maps as they want, but they can’t rewrite history,” Horacek said. “We have old aerial photos and surveys from 2008 and 2011 ... showing what the natural grade of this property was before.... The fact of the matter is that this is a 67-foot house in a neighborhood with a 36-foot height limit.”

In his July letter to the city, Koretz described the place as looking “more like the Getty Center than a home.”

“It is one thing for a developer to build a large home because the code allows him to do so,” Koretz said in an email Wednesday. “It is another thing when the code may have been skirted, with an entire community’s way of life in jeopardy.”

Horacek’s campaign was part of a growing revolt in high-end neighborhoods where construction of ever-larger houses has filled winding roads with convoys of dirt haulers and cement mixers and created the specter of sliding slopes.

martha.groves@latimes.com

Twitter: @MarthaGroves

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