Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2018 – 6:37 PM
By Matt Lopez
Bel Air residents are ramping up the pressure in their fight against the oversized 901 Strada Vecchia megamansion, filing a lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against both the project’s developer Mohamed Hadid and the City of Los Angeles, demanding the demolition of the massive structure and a restoration of the unstable Bel Air hillside.
The lawsuit – filed by Bel-Air Residents Joe and Beatriz Horacek and John and Judith Bedrosian, alleges that Hadid brazenly ignored dozens of building violations and city orders, that the city of Los Angeles itself has failed to enforce. The lawsuit calls upon the city of L.A. to enforce its own previous orders dating as far back as 2015, which required the project to be demolished. Yet, three years later, work has continued on the massive mansion, which towers over the Bel-Air hillside.
“The city of Los Angeles has failed to act on an order issued by the city’s Board of Building and Safety Commissioners over three years ago, telling Mohamed Hadid to immediately tear down this grossly illegal mansion,” said Victor De la Cruz, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “That order was final, yet it has not been enforced. This inaction reinforces the dangerous message that one can purposefully scheme to flout the city’s laws and request forgiveness later in order to reap tens of millions of dollars in profit that would not otherwise be obtainable to the many law-abiding developers who carefully follow the law in designing and building their projects.”
The property has been embroiled in controversy essentially since Hadid acquired it and began construction in 2011.
From that point, until 2015, the city levied 11 “Order to Comply” citations against the property, including several requiring construction to immediately stop.
All the orders were ignored and work continued, which led the Los Angeles city attorney to file charges against Hadid in 2015.
Last year, he plead no contest to three criminal counts and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service, fines and probation. In the end, however, what really changed?
The structure still remains affixed atop the Bel Air hillside – a steep, seismically-active region with a history of slope failures – with no signs of the megamansion coming down anytime soon.
“Despite the criminal conviction, terms of his probation, and lack of valid permits, Hadid and his agents and/or employees have continued efforts to construct and complete the Hadid Development, without regard for Plaintiffs’ safety,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit takes aim directly at Los Angeles City Hall, raising an important question that many people in the Bel Air community have bandied about for the last several years – why has the city of Los Angeles done nothing to enforce the April 2015 order from the Board of Building and Safety Commissioners that directed Hadid to demolish and remove all illegal construction from the site?
“After seven years of this painful saga, this community is fed up,” said De la Cruz. “Mohamed Hadid has made a mockery of the city’s laws and the safety of his neighbors, and astonishingly the city of Los Angeles has turned a blind eye. At this stage, the only way to bring this illegal mansion into compliance is to tear it down and start over.”
Dubbed the “Starship Enterprise” by L.A. Councilman Paul Koretz, the repeated code violations resulted in a monstrous structure that sits approximately 70-feet high and is 30,000 square feet, according to the lawsuit, which is more than twice the size permitted by the city’s Municipal Code. An illegal building pad was created by unpermitted grading, and misrepresenting the property’s natural grade, after which Hadid constructed several other unpermitted elements of the property. Those elements include underground stories and a large IMAX theater, all constructed behind the strategic placement of tarps, plants and walls.
In their lawsuit, the Horacek and Bedrosian families – both of whom live beneath the mammoth property – are asking that the court place the property into receivership, demand that Hadid and the city of Los Angeles pay for the removal of the illegal structure and restore the hillside to its previous condition.
The residents suing Hadid and the city of L.A. have created a website, www.tearitdown.net, detailing their grievances against the project.