Developer Mohamed Hadid was sentenced Thursday for violations related to the development of this mansion in Bel-Air, which remains unfinished. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Real estate developer Mohamed Hadid must do community service, pay fines and put forward a plan to stabilize a Bel-Air hillside after pleading no contest to criminal charges tied to a mammoth mansion in the hills of Bel-Air.
It remains undecided whether Hadid will be required to secure a bond to cover the costs of tearing down the house if it cannot be legally finished.
“We’re interested in one thing and one thing only … bringing this building into compliance,” his attorney Robert Shapiro told reporters Thursday after a sentencing hearing. “I can assure you that when this building is complete, it will be one of the most beautiful homes in Bel-Air, if not the country.”
Hadid was accused of illegally building a colossal home that was bigger and taller than city rules allowed. The Strada Vecchia Road mansion had bedrooms, decks and an IMAX theater that the city said were never approved, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.
Los Angeles officials demanded a halt to construction three years ago and later yanked permits for the home, leaving it unfinished and empty.
At Thursday’s hearing, Superior Court Judge Eric Harmon imposed three years of probation under a host of requirements, including more than $3,000in fines, 200 hours of community service and payment of more than $14,000 to the city to cover building department costs, along with an additional amount yet to be decided to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Hadid must also hire an engineer to craft a plan to stabilize the hillside.
The judge has not decided whether Hadid will be required to obtain a bond that covers the cost of tearing down the house if the developer is unable or unwilling to finish it legally — a requirement that prosecutors had sought to ensure that the city was not on the hook for those costs. Another hearing will be held later this summer to decide that issue.
Hadid, who did not appear in court Thursday, is a flashy figure known for his opulent homes for the rich, his supermodel daughters Bella and Gigi, and his stints on reality television.
His attorneys have argued in the past that he was not the one responsible for getting permits. They have also emphasized that the Strada Vecchia house was repeatedly inspected by the city during construction.
Neighbors said they feared that the hillside above them had been dangerously destabilized. The Bel-Air Assn., a homeowner group, urged “the stiffest financial and incarceration penalties possible.”
“It is extremely unfortunate that massive violations of the code are penalized in the same way as the most minor violations,” neighbor Joseph Horacek said after the hearing Thursday. Horacek argued that securing a bond would be crucial to make sure that Hadid did not “walk away” from the unfinished project.
Hadid has turned in revised plans for the Strada Vecchia mansion, in an attempt to get new permits to finish the roughly 30,000-square-foot home. But City Councilman Paul Koretz, who represents the area, has urged city officials to declare the “hazardous building” a nuisance and force it to be torn down.
“We cannot teach developers that it is better to ask forgiveness than to ask for permission,” the councilman wrote in a letter to building department head Frank Bush last month.
Hadid and his attorneys have repeatedly rejected that idea, saying that the unfinished home is not a nuisance and will be brought in line with city rules.