LOS ANGELES -- On August 23, 2012, a Los Angeles Superior Court
judge ruled that the residential project proposed in the Benedict
Canyon area by Saudi prince Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdul-Aziz al Saud, the
Deputy Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, had been illegally
subjected by the City of Los Angeles to rules that are not
applicable to the project. [Tower Lane Properties, Inc. v. City
of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court case no.
The rule at issue 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 and certain neighbors argued that this
provision is applicable to the Saudi prince's project even
though no subdivision was proposed or contemplated. Hence, they
argued the project requires a discretionary review and public
The court found that the code section is not applicable to the
project and ordered the city not to apply this provision to the
project. The proposed project consists of three single family homes
on three separate legal lots on Tower Lane.
Martha and Bruce Karsh, who own a large estate property next door,
elected to intervene in the lawsuit. The Karsh's legal
arguments regarding the applicability of this code section were
also rejected by the court. In papers filed with the court, Tower
Lane Properties submitted evidence of city records showing that
Martha and Bruce Karsh had 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. Tower Lane Properties produced
evidence that the city had never before applied this ordinance to
an applicant proposing a single family home on a single legal
Martha and Bruce Karsh have been leading opponents of the
project who have waged a campaign-style attack against the project
and Prince Abdul-Aziz. The City of Los Angeles Ethics Commission
website shows that Martha and Bruce Karsh had also hired a team of
lobbyists to influence the city processing of this project. Bruce
Karsh is one of the co-founders of Oaktree Capital, an
international investment and management firm and, according to the
Los Angeles Times, the largest creditor of Tribune Co. which owns
the Los Angeles Times.
"Our client designed a project to comply with all the zoning
and building code regulations, but in response to outside pressures
the city devised new interpretations intended to force our client
into a lengthy and unnecessary analysis of non-existent issues.
This is a residential project which is completely consistent with
neighboring properties and will be constructed in compliance with
building and grading regulations. Yesterday's detailed and
well- reasoned court ruling vindicates our client's position
that the City tried to apply its rules in a discriminatory
manner," said Benjamin M. Reznik, land use attorney for the
Saudi prince. "It is most unfortunate that our client has been
vilified by certain members of the community for doing nothing more
than insisting that the laws of our city be applied to him fairly
in the same manner as they are applied to other
Click here to review the court's tentative
decision, which became final after the hearing of August 23,
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a property owner in Mississippi agreed to pay $27,000 to settle a lawsuit involving allegations of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
Just yesterday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issues new guidance which reaffirms that the Fair Housing Act’s (FHA’s) requirement that multifamily housing be designed and constructed so as to be accessible to persons with disabilities.
One of the communities hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy is preparing to use eminent domain to take easements from oceanfront homeowners who are holding up a beach replenishment project, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.