The man who could be our next mayor isn't happy with some of the people who might end up under his supervision.
L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky this week lambasted L.A. city officials for allowing a proposed, 85,000-square-foot mansion planned for Benedict Canyon near Beverly Hills to proceed through the planning process with “lax enforcement,” questionable environmental exemptions and eyebrow-raising permit approvals.
In a letter yesterday to L.A. Department of Building and Safety chief Bud Ovrom and Planning Department honcho Michael LoGrande, Yaroslavsky called for “a complete investigation” into the matter.
The Saudi Prince-owned project, which Yaroslavsky describes as being “30 percent bigger than the White House,” came to light last month after neighbors realized that piecemeal plans for adjacent properties being submitted to the city for permit approvals actually constituted one massive estate.
Neighbors, like onetime superagent Michael Ovitz, whose homes aren't exactly modest, organized serious opposition to the project under the banner Save Benedict Canyon.
They also want local Councilman Paul Koretz, who had asked the city to reconsider its approvals, to launch an investigation. Opponents have called the permit applications for the project “misleading and false.”
The entity that owns the properties stated it has withdrawn the plans for a mega-mansion (but opponents don't seem so sure, and Yaroslavsky notes there are still permits pending).
Yaroslavsky seems pretty nonplussed about how this thing could have gotten through so many hoops without any red flags. Writing about two city exemptions granted to the project for environmental reviews, the supervisor writes:
… It strains credulity to believe that the construction of an 85,000 square foot mansion — that would be 30 percent bigger than the White House — would not have a significant effect on the environment.
(What the hell is happening in Building and Safety and Planning in City Hall? We recently reported that two building inspectors were nabbed by the FBI for allegedly taking bribes for permit approvals).
The case of the mega-mansion shows that the city turned the other cheek — because it was either stupid or shady. Either way, it ain't right.
Yaroslavsky gives Building and Safety an out and blames “lack of coordination across departments:”
… It appears that this application received at least initial sign-off from some Building and Safety staff members, even while other members of the same department were raising increasingly critical questions about whether any permit should be issued on the property at all until violations are remedied and adequate information is received.