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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Francesco Aquilini gets his mansion on Loma Linda Drive in Beverly Hills

Canucks owner can now get permits for a project less than half the size of his original vision
May 04, 2018 01:28PM

1184 Loma Linda Drive

UPDATE, 1:16 PM, May 5: On May 4, the Beverly Hills City Clerk determined that just under 900 signatures submitted by a political group to put a repeal of the Basement Ordinance to voters as a referendum on November’s ballot were “not sufficient,” according to the Beverly Hills Courier. That means the group, founded by Hilton & Hyland agent Branden Williams, fell short of the 2,080 needed to go ahead with the referendum question by just 25 signatures. The Basement Ordinance remains in effect.

Score one for Canadian billionaire Francesco Aquilini.

After years of negotiation and political intrigue, the Beverly Hills City Council gave the go-ahead to issue permits for one of two controversial mansion projects the Vancouver Canucks owner wants to build on Loma Linda Drive, according to the Beverly Hills Courier.

Aquilini finally has the green light to get permits for an 11,659-square-foot manse with nine bedrooms and five baths for 1184 Loma Linda Drive as a by-right project.

It only took him 11 rounds of review with city lawmakers to get the thumbs up.

That might seem like more than enough house for anyone. But it’s less than half the size of the 26,000-square-foot cantilevered behemoth Aquilini initially proposed in 2014 for the house and a neighboring lot at 1193 Loma Linda Drive.

Aquilini still wants to build another 8,000-square-foot-plus home on that lot, but it hasn’t met certain criteria required by law yet, according to the Courier.

The project was the driving force behind the City Council passing a so-called “basement ordinance” earlier this year that closed a loophole in city laws that allowed developers to build homes far bigger than allowed by law in the tony city’s hillside communities. Homes are restricted by square footage in Beverly Hills, but “basements” were not counted as part of that, no matter how large. That allowed a developer to build multiple levels into a hillside lot as long as they didn’t rise more than a few feet on the street above them.

Hilton & Hyland broker Branden Williams, who reportedly works as Aquilini’s local broker, started a petition to repeal the ordinance but stepped away from the effort after the Courier revealed he was behind it.

A Woodland Hills lawyer continued the petition but it ultimately failed. Before the signatures were submitted, documents penned by a lawyer for Aquilini in March accused the City Council of delaying permits so it would be subject to the ordinance.

Aquilini’s saga became well-known enough that the billionaire’s hometown Vancouver newspapers started to cover it.

A lawyer for a group of locals who fought the Loma Linda Drive project called the City Council vote this week a “win for the community and the neighbors.”

The city’s staff “has learned that the residents come first and if anyone tries to put a small octagon into a small square lot, it won’t happen on our watch,” Ronald Richards said. [Beverly Hills Courier] – Dennis Lynch