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'Not in My Backyard,' Say L.A. Millionaires to L.A. Billionaires

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The New York Times has cast its gaze over the most deeply ironic brand of NIMBY fight in L.A.; the kind where millionaires with 20,000-square-foot homes protest the building of even larger residences, often by speculators or overseas billionaires. "Twenty-thousand-square-foot homes have become teardowns for people who want to build 70-, 80-, and 90,000-square-foot homes," Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz tells the Times. Oh, the humanity!

In this rarified world, we meet neighborhood protector Fred Rosen, who used to run Ticketmaster before he decided to spend his days driving reporters in his Cadillac Escalade to local development that particularly offend him. Rosen and the homeowners alliance he helped form are dead-set against the construction of a modern glass-and-steel compound expected to total 85,000 square feet. (Only 55,000 square of which will be "livable space," but still.) The home, as conceived by producer-turned-developer Nile Niami, will have a cantilevered tennis court and five swimming pools, and is expected to list with a price "in the $150 million range."

"We're talking 200 construction trucks a day," says Rosen. "Then multiply that by all the other giant projects. More than a million cubic yards of this hillside have been taken out. What happens when the next earthquake comes? How nuts is all this?" Here's how nuts it is when developments espoused by a new class of billionaires make life slightly less glamorous for an old class of millionaires.

·A 30,000-square-foot house developed by Mohamed Hadid (whose TV credits include appearances on The Shahs of Sunset and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) has been nicknamed the Starship Enterprise by angry neighbors, who include Spock actor Leonard Nimoy. "He's violated just about every regulation that applies," says Joseph Horacek, an entertainment lawyer who lives right below the project (rendered above), and filed appeals that helped get Hadid's development permits revoked last month.
· In Trousdale Estates, out-of-control construction trucks killed two Los Angeles police officers last year, which is a real tragedy. Also, "another truck in the same area struck two parked cars and flipped over, dumping nine tons of hot asphalt onto the front lawn of Eric Kranzler, a talent manager whose midcentury modern home was recently featured in Architectural Digest."
· The 85,000-suqare-foot dream house planned by Saudi prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud has been stalled by neighbors including CAA founder Michael Ovitz, who owns a "contemporary villa cum art museum designed by Michael Maltzan" measuring 28,000 square feet.
· In Beverly Grove, some neighbors of monster houses in development have started spray-painting aggressive notes on construction fencing, some sections of which have also been found "festooned with bags of dog poop."
· This tasteless $85M spec-built mansion, which the NYT deems "relatively humble," continues to exist.

The divide between the "haves" and the "have-even-more-ofs" has never greater.

· In Los Angeles, a Nimby Battle Pits Millionaires vs. Billionaires [NYT]