This article was written by Matt Lopez and published by the Beverly Hills Courier
The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety today officially revoked five building permits at Mohamed Hadid’s extravagant 901 Strada Vecchia development in Bel-Air.
In July, the LADBS ordered all construction work stop and levied an “intent to revoke permits” amid pressure from neighbors who claimed the nearly 30,000-square-foot property had skirted numerous permit processes for grading and other construction-related activity, and had continuously ignored “Orders to Comply” by the City of L.A. when certain violations were found. That meant that Hadid, the owner and developer of the property, would be forced to present revised plans and topographical maps for the project.
Among other things, neighbor Joseph Horacek, who officially appealed the permits with the city of Los Angeles in April, alleged that unpermitted grading and demolishing took place without a permit and that the site’s natural grade was misrepresented in order to permit a project that exceeds the LADBS building code’s height limit.
The LADBS concurred and after that appeal, coupled with a letter from L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz asking the city of Los Angeles to step in, the LADBS put its foot down in July with the intent to revoke permits.
After nearly two months of back-and-forth between Hadid and the City of Los Angeles, the LADBS early Wednesday confirmed that it officially revoked permits for the construction of a two-story single family home, 4,888 cubic yards of grading, the construction of retaining walls, the construction of a detatched deck and the construction of an infinity pool on the property.
“The applicant failed to provide the required information that our plan check wanted in order for the project to move forward,” said Luke Zamperini, LADBS’ Chief Inspector for Training and Emergency Management, noting the information submitted by Hadid was “inadequate”. “They were given plenty of time and haven’t submitted the right information.”
Zamperini said that the change of the grade of the hillside, resulting in a project far taller than permitted or allowed under code, played a major role in the decision. “It was a number of things, one of the issues of course was the establishment of where natural grade was before they started working on the place,” Zamperini said.
The revokation of permits doesn’t necessarily mean the house is being demolished anytime soon. Hadid could apply for new permits, or could simply decide enough is enough and walk away from the project.
“As of today, he has no permits, if he wants to continue building he will need to come in and get new permits,” Zamperini said. “A lot of that has to do with establishing where the natural grade is. That’s kind of the sticking point. To come back with a plan to change what they have there now to match what we believe is the actual natural grade.”
See Friday’s print edition of The Courier for more on 901 Strada Vecchia.
This article was written by Martha Groves and published by the L.A. 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.
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."
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.