901 Strada Vecchia Update: LADBS failed to enforce its own rules

The BAA is posting an article that covered the Tuesday, June 26, 2018, hearing at the Board of Building & Safety Commissioners:

To link to the BEVERLY HILLS COURER's article, click here (page 5).

L.A. Building & Safety Fails To Enforce Its Own Rules At Strada Vecchia Hearing

By Matt Lopez 

On Tuesday, Bel Air residents came to the Los Angeles Board of Building and Safety Commissioners (BBSC) with a simple question: Why has the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) ignored their own Orders to Comply and the mandate from the BBSC to demolish the unapproved construction of Mohamed Hadid’s massive 901 Strada Vecchia megamansion in Bel Air? 

On April 8, 2015, the LADBS levied Orders to Comply to Hadid’s megamansion that stated large parts of the home were built outside of permit and that Hadid must “demolish and remove all unauthorized, unapproved construction and restore the site to its approved state.” Three years later, the entirety of the megamansion still remains, towering over the Bel-Air hillside, and nothing has been done to actually follow through on the enforcement of those 2015 orders. Unfortunately, no answers were given Tuesday and the commissioners ruled that LADBS did not “err or abuse its discretion” in approving the 2017 erosion control plan that allowed Hadid 2,283 cubic yards of additional grading at the site, which lawyers for Bel-Air residents Joe and Beatriz Horacek and John and Judith Bedrosian say brings the total amount of grading at the site to date to over 14,000 cubic yards – all without a single valid grading permit having ever been issued to the project. 

There is no word as to whether the Horacek and Bedrosian families are planning to appeal the decision. 

Around two dozen Bel Air residents spoke out against the project during Tuesday’s meeting in Los Angeles. L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz also spoke, strongly condemning the property and calling for its demolition. Perhaps the most startling moment came when BBSC President Evangelos P. Ambatielos questioned LADBS General Manager Frank Bush – who has been in the department during the entirety of the 901 Strada Vecchia saga – as to why and how LADBS let the site get to this point, skirting so many permits and rules violations. Bush’s response essentially passed the buck to others, stating that the department had moved people who were involved in the early stages of inspection to “other positions” while claiming that others retired. He said the department is “looking into it” but had no real solution, and the Board of Building and Safety Commissioners didn’t seem intent on doing much to hold him to one, despite the law. “The lack of answers from Frank Bush is most troubling, not only to us but to every neighbor who heard the explanation given by Bush last Tuesday. When will there be transparency from LADBS regarding how 901 Strada Vecchia was allowed to be built?” said Joe Horacek.

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