One Bel-Air housing battle came to an end this week with the Somma Way project settlement, and another inched closer to the finish line with the LADBS denying 901 Strada Vecchia’s appeal.
The two results should have led to a victory lap for the Bel-Air Homeowners Alliance, a coalition of Bel-Air residents who have worked tirelessly since their formation last May to fight construction projects that bend the law and ignore community concerns.
Instead, another group, the Bel-Air Association, has used the two victories for the Bel-Air community as an opportunity to pat itself on the back for two results it had absolutely no hand in.
The LADBS’ decision to deny the appeal filed by owners of the 901 Strada Vecchia megamansion marked another step toward victory for homeowner Joe Horacek, who spent countless hours and millions of his own money to bring the city’s attention to the project developed by Mohamed Hadid, right above his Bel-Air home.
Horacek did so in unison with the Bel-Air Homeowners Alliance (BAHA), which has quickly become the loudest voice defending Bel-Air residents against renegade construction and unsafe pracitices. BAHA members sent e-mails, showed up to meetings, and let it be known that they were battling alongside Horacek to keep an illegally constructed home from being built.
With the writing already on the wall regarding 901 Strada Vecchia’s future, Bel-Air Association president Ron Hudson spoke out in support of denying the appeal at Tuesday’s hearing, but that was a stark contrast from the position the BAA took when Horacek needed them most.
In 2013, Horacek reached out to the BAA and was told by Executive Director Paulette DuBey, in an e-mail obtained by The Courier, that “The Bel-Air Association believes that there are no enforceable deed restrictions in affect on the property located at 901 Strada Vecchia. Accordingly, at this time, the Bel-Air Association will not be taking a position on the subject.”
The Bel-Air Association’s motives were again brought into question last year as residents fought back against the 40,000 square foot megamansion on Somma Way. The BAA, surprisingly, sent a letter of support for the project to the L.A. Planning and Land Use Committee, and asked that Somma Way developers give $500 to the BAA’s “Project Pothole” for every 500 yards of cubic dirt that would be hauled. For double axle trucks, the amount went from $500 to $750 per $500 cubic yards.
Of course, as The Courier reports this week, the matter with Somma Way was finally taken care of by the BAHA in a settlement reached with the city of L.A. and project owners.
“People look to the Alliance to get things done. The community looks to us for protection because the Bel-Air Association has clearly abdicated its responsibility to the community,” Bel-Air Homeowners Alliance President/ CEO Fredric D. Rosen said. “This goes to the hypocrisy of the management of the BAA, whoever they are. First, they do nothing to help, now they take credit for what happened. They seem more interested with protecting the salaries of their employees than the residents of their community.”