Not in my neighborhood.
Residents of the affluent Los Angeles neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Bel Air, including actress Jennifer Aniston, are speaking out against the construction of sprawling mega homes in their once-quiet communities.
ABC’s Nightline reported this week that real estate developers are buying up huge swaths of land and homes in the exclusive area, and existing upscale mansions are being demolished to make way for even bigger properties.
Luxury “giga-mansions” as big as 20,000 square feet are going up all over the area–with some of the homes as big as 90,000 square feet–and residents are banding together to fight their presence.
Mohamed Hadid, a developer and the father of model Gigi Hadid, is behind the construction of one of the homes, a 30,000-square-feet project that is drawing a lot of attention for its vast floor plan, height, and architecture.
Going up in Beverly Hills, the glass, steel, and cement mansion will stand 103-feet-tall after completion, making it 67 feet above Los Angeles’s 36-feet height limit for homes.
One neighbor, entertainment attorney Joe Horacek’s, who lives next door, told Nightline the home reminds him of the Starship Enterprise and makes him angry.
“I feel the privacy is completely and totally gone,” Horacek said while noting that the house towers over his own.
Jennifer Aniston, whose $21 million 8,500-square-feet Bel Air compound is modest in comparison to the new projects, recently told city officials the “very idea that a building of 90,000 square feet can be called a home” seems “at the least a significant distortion of building code.”
So who is building and buying these gigantic properties, some of which include amenities like full movie theaters, wine cellars, and infinity pools?
Real estate expert David Kramer told ABC the boom started with the sale of TV producer Aaron Spelling’s 56,000-square-feet home for $85 million in 2011.
“People saw the reality of, we have buyers here,” he said.
Kramer added, “Everyone thinks it’s foreign buyers, it’s everybody. It’s local, it’s entertainment, it’s hedge fund, banking, computer, definitely, technology people, and then a lot of foreign buyers. Probably 30-40 percent are foreign buyers.”
Residents disagree the neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Bel Air need the homes, and Ticketmaster founder Fred Rosen recently started the Bel Air Homeowner’s Alliance after witnessing the issues that coincide with all the construction.
Rosen told ABC that construction trucks are causing a number of problems as they drive through the exclusive neighborhood day after day, including issues of resident safety and noise.
A Homeowner’s Alliance’s petition is now seeking to pass two ordinances to ease the worrying of those concerned, and reads:
The excavation and hauling of dirt has been the single largest risk to the health and safety of residents in Bel Air and is endured on a day to day basis on our city streets. The result of the digging and hauling is that we have literally thousands of unsafe truck trips up and down our narrow streets and roads placing residents in danger.
“There’s wildlife here, and that’s the way Bel Air used to be, very peaceful and quiet,” resident Maureen Levinson told Nightline, while also comparing the construction trucks to “freight trains.”
Levinson expressed that it may be “many, many, many years” before she and other residents of 8,000-10,000-square-feet homes feel peace again.
While the city of Los Angeles did issue a stop work order on the 103-feet-tall home next to Horacek’s property after building inspectors found that Hadid was adding unapproved features, construction started once he agreed to go back to his original construction plans.
It now looks as though the area’s millionaires, including Jennifer Aniston, will simply have to learn to live with their new billionaire neighbors.