Neighbors of property tycoon Mohamed Hadid’s notorious Bel Air mega-mansion have been dealt a blow after city legislators blocked their claims for compensation for the nine-year ‘nightmare’ they say they’ve suffered under the shadow of the giant, half-built ‘monstrosity.’
The proposed settlement that the council rejected was to recover some of the millions of dollars the neighbors say they have spent over the years in legal fees to try to force the city to correct its ‘mistakes’ over Hadid’s illegal mansion.
The dollar amount of the settlement has been kept confidential.
At a full session of LA City Council last Tuesday, members voted 14-0 to accept the recommendation of the City Attorney to reject a settlement offer proposed by the neighbors’ lawyer, Gary Lincenberg.
The neighbors quickly lashed out at the council vote.
‘The city’s actions and inactions created human victims and the city should own up to its share of responsibility,’ Joe Horacek – who lives immediately below Hadid’s teetering hilltop house – told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
‘The city of Los Angeles was complicit in Mohamed Hadid’s campaign to build one of the city’s largest-ever illegal residences.’
In addition to suing Hadid, 71, in LA Superior Court – where a judge has ordered the huge property to be torn down – Horacek and other angry neighbors took legal action against city planners.
They sharply criticized LA’s Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) which they claim badly supervised construction, allowing Hadid to get away with illegally doubling the size of his project from its originally permitted 15,000 square feet.
They have accused an LADBS inspector of taking bribes to ‘look the other way’ while Hadid carried out unpermitted construction work on the mansion in the city’s upscale Bel Air neighborhood.
They also attacked the City Attorney for not more aggressively pursuing the enforcement of the 2017 jail sentence a judge imposed on Hadid if he didn’t make his building legal, or tear it down within the three years probation she also imposed. That probation ended last month.
And the neighbors were outraged when the city attorney came after them, asking a judge to force them to pay the city’s legal fees.
The Bel Air Association, a community watchdog group that for years has been an outspoken opponent of Hadid’s house, lashed out at the city in a scathing statement made before Tuesday’s vote.
‘At every turn, this City has completely failed to hold Mohamed Hadid accountable for his actions despite the fact that City officials, having taken bribes, are complicit,’ it blasted.
It continued: ‘The Board of Building and Safety Commissioners long ago ordered Hadid to tear down this illegal and dangerous monstrosity, yet the City has done nothing to enforce the order.
‘In fact, we were all shocked that the City Attorney agreed to let Mohamed Hadid’s probation expire despite Hadid’s failure to comply with the criminal court’s demolition order.
‘That means that the City is now officially doing NOTHING to have this house demolished. We will hold the City Attorney and this Council accountable if nothing is done.’
It added: ‘The City has the authority to declare Hadid’s illegal construction a nuisance and have it demolished. We are sick of hearing that the City can’t do anything. Look at what the neighbors have accomplished without the City’s help.
‘Make no mistake about it – this house poses a real risk of catastrophic injury or loss of life if there is an earthquake. And the City will be liable if that ever happens because the City’s acceptance of bribes is not protected conduct from which the City is immune.’
Last month, Douglas Wilson, the receiver appointed to oversee demolition of the gargantuan property, completed his final demo plan and asked for its approval by LA Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan who last year ruled that the controversial building be knocked down after dubbing it ‘a clear and present danger’ to the surrounding community.
In addition, Wilson asked the judge for permission to take out a loan – or sell the house and land – to raise the $5 million it will cost to raze the house to the ground, plus an additional $1.2 million the father of supermodels Bella and Gigi Hadid owes in back property taxes.
At the hearing on July 23, Wilson stressed that demolition is urgent. A delay would mean that winter rain could shift the soil on the steep hillsides of the site and send the giant building plunging down toward the homes of the neighbors suing the Palestinian-American multi-millionaire.
Judge Karlan is scheduled to rule on the final demo plan – and financing – on September 17.
Hadid has tried several legal moves to try to stop or delay the wrecking ball.
First he filed chapter 11 bankruptcy, claiming that he ‘couldn’t afford’ the $5 million cost of the demo. That was dismissed.
Then he filed an appeal against Judge Karlan’s order to tear down the giant house. That too was denied.
In May he launched a desperate, last ditch bid to save his building project by asking California’s Supreme Court to send the case back to Judge Karlan’s court.
But last month, the state’s highest court torpedoed his efforts, refusing even to hear the case.
As Hadid’s mammoth house – which he once hoped to sell for $100 million – grew and grew, far exceeding it’s originally permitted size, he ignored orders from Los Angeles City to stop building and in December 2015, in an almost-unprecedented move, the city decided to prosecute him criminally.
He pleaded no contest to three criminal charges involving illegal construction and in July 2017 he was told he would serve a 180-day jail sentence if he doesn’t reduce the size of the house and bring it into compliance with city building codes – or demolish it – within the three years of probation the judge also imposed.
In addition, he was fined $3,000, ordered to pay $14,191 in fees to LA city, and serve 200 hours of community service.
Though Hadid’s probation period for that criminal case ended last month, his legal problems are far from over.
Judge Karlan has scheduled January 4, 2021 for the start of the trial where neighbors suing the developer will seek financial damages for the nine years of heartache they claim Hadid has inflicted upon them.