Showdown At The Bel-Air Corral

By Matt Lopez of the Beverly Hills Courier

Bel-Air residents have experienced two major victories recently with the Somma Way project settlement and LADBS sending 901 Strada Vecchia to the L.A. City Attorney.

One unfortunate result of the successes has been that the Bel-Air Homeowners Alliance (BAHA), the chief organization behind community efforts to fight back from rogue construction, has come under fire from another Bel-Air organization, which many residents feel has been no help at all to the community.

In a community letter on June 10, Bel-Air Association (BAA) President Ron Hudson attacked the BAHA, along with its President/CEO Fred Rosen.

The timing of the letter is curious after several weeks of successes that directly involved the BAHA. 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 and most effective voice defending Bel-Air residents against renegade construction and unsafe practices. 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.

Hudson spoke out in support of the decision at the appeal in early June, a far cry from previous public statements from the BAA. When Horacek had previously contacted BAA Executive Director Paulette DuBey in 2013, he was told the BAA would “not be taking a position on the subject.”

In a scathing letter to the Bel-Air Association on Thursday, Horacek said “Fred Rosen and BAHOA are right in their position that there is no transparency or accountability in BAA, and nothing on the recent record to show that BAA actually supports the majority feeling of the neighbors that building in Bel Air has gotten out of control (Airole Way and Somma Way to name only two).”

The Bel-Air Association’s motives were brought into question last year as residents fought back against the 40,000 square foot megamansion on unstable land 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.

Rosen said the BAA has refused to meet with BAHA reps despite several overtures.

Rosen has often criticized the BAA over transparency concerns, citing having never seen a financial statement in his 10 years as a member, or any Form 990. Rosen also notes that the community has never been made aware of who the BAA officers or directors are.

“It  seems to us that the main purpose of the BAA has been to provide employment and salaries for Paulette and you,” Rosen said in a letter to Hudson on Thursday.

“We want one strong voice for our community with effective leadership and one we can be proud of which reflects the constituency of our community, not the group the BAA has now, and the adjectives are all appropriate–clueless, incapable and an embarrassment. When the Alliance started, the BAA’s position is that we were troublemakers, because we were upsetting the status quo and held the BAA's inactions and ineptitude up to the light.  In less than a year, we have made many serious contributions for our community.”