March 23, 2011 in Nation/World

Tony neighborhood rallies against mega-mansion

Raquel Maria Dillon Associated Press
 

LOS ANGELES – In the wealthy hillside neighborhoods bordering Beverly Hills, neighbors are blase about the famous names who live next door and keep to themselves.

But the proposal to build a mega-mansion in Benedict Canyon has drawn the residents out from their gated mansions and onto the twisting streets of their stately canyon neighborhood in protest.

Twenty neighbors held a press conference Tuesday to draw attention to the proposed compound that’s roughly the size of the famed Hearst Castle.

They complained that the project is oversized for the narrow streets, that years of construction will destroy their quality of life, that the proposal would create mudslide and fire hazards and that the unidentified owner wasn’t acting neighborly.

“Just because someone has millions of dollars doesn’t mean they have the right to stampede through the neighborhood,” said Nickie Miner, a neighbor who is retired and president of the Benedict Canyon Association.

The neighborhood is home to Jay Leno, David Beckham, Bruce Springsteen, Lisa Kudrow and Michael Ovitz. Residents say the compound’s size – a 42,681-square-foot house, a 27,000-square-foot villa, a guest house, staff quarters and a gatehouse – doesn’t fit in with the neighborhood of stately mansions.

“The pool house is bigger than my house,” Michael Eisenberg, a neighbor, said.

When Martha Karsh first saw the plans to build 85,000 square feet of new buildings, she assumed there was a typo.

“I thought, that can’t be right. It must be 8,500, not 85,000 square feet,” of new construction, she said.

The property is rumored to be the future home of Saudi royalty.

Eisenberg and Karsh formed a group called Save Benedict Canyon, put up a website and went door-to-door to let their neighbors know about the proposal.

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