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Saudi Prince Wins (First?) BHPO Megacompound Legal Victory

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Saudi Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz al Saud has won his lawsuit against the city of LA, triumphing (for now) over fellow rich Benedict Canyoners who have been waging war on his proposed megacompound. The prince hopes to build three huge houses and a very roomy pool building on Tower Lane; he's already downsized plans in response to objections from vocal neighbors including (most loudly) Oaktree Capital Management cofounder Bruce Karsh and his wife Martha. According to a press release from the prince's lawyers, "The rule at issue [in the lawsuit] is City Building Code sec. 91.7006.8.2 which requires projects that are subject to subdivision to apply for a tentative tract map prior to grading on sites greater than 60,000 square feet." The city argued that any project over 60,000 square feet required discretionary review (meaning City Council/planning commission approval) and public hearings; the prince and his lawyers argued that the rule only applies when land is being subdivided. The prince's megacompound is being built on three lots, but the land was already divided when he bought the property, so the court found in his favor. However, they aren't telling the city to issue building permits just yet.

Kind of a snooze, but luckily the lawyers dish some dirt in their press release. Apparently the Karshes submitted their own arguments to the court, and the press release tattles that they themselves have "pulled numerous grading and building permits for their own property between 2003 to 2010 in order to construct a recreational building, a guest house, a conservatory with basement, and other improvements, and not once did the City subject them to the very same ordinance they argued Tower Lane Properties must adhere to, even though their property is also greater than 60,000 square feet." Burn! It adds that they've "hired a team of lobbyists to influence the city processing of this project."

Meanwhile, the court's tentative decision (pdf) (which became final last week) notes that "the City has not yet even completed its review of the project, and several issues remain outstanding." Those include private street approval and access to the site (the city signed off on access under a previous owner, but the Karshes have challenged that), grading close to protected trees, and drainage plans (the Bureau of Engineering has removed the project's clearance for drainage). Some of the issues could require discretionary review, which means the court won't order the city to hand over building permits just yet.
· Los Angeles Superior Court Rules Saudi Prince's Benedict Canyon Project Was Illegally Subjected to L.A. Building Code Provisions [CLUB]
· Saudi Prince Sues LA Over Delayed Megacompound Permits [Curbed LA]