Court tosses Mohamed Hadid’s demolition appeal

Demolition can go forward even amid coronavirus restrictions

Mohamed Hadid and the mansion (Credit: Kevin Scanlon)
Mohamed Hadid and the mansion (Credit: Kevin Scanlon)

Mohamed Hadid may have run out of legal avenues to prevent demolition of his notorious Bel Air spec mansion.

A judicial panel tossed the real estate developer’s appeal to stay an order to tear down the mansion as Hadid awaits trial on civil damages, putting demolition on track even amid the coronavirus outbreak. California appellate court justices Laurence Rubin, Carl Moor, and Dorothy Kim returned with a one-sentence decision Friday that stated the court denied Hadid’s appeal without further explanation.

Hadid is fighting a scathing order Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig Karlan issued in November that sided with plaintiffs Joe & Bibi Horacek and Judith & John Bedrosian’s argument the 901 Strada Vecchia Road mansion was structurally unsound and parts of it could roll down the hill.

“It’s not even a close call in my mind that the plaintiffs are at a legitimate risk of suffering damages and harm to their homes,” Karlan said in a bench ruling from his Santa Monica courthouse. “[The structure] just cannot be left in place. It cannot remain, knowing what we know now.”

The swift upholding of Karlan’s order effectively greenlights the plans of Douglas Wilson, who Karlan appointed as property receiver to execute the mansion’s demolition. Wilson is currently selecting demolition contractors and consultants, and he is set to provide a full teardown plan to Karlan in April.

The coronavirus would not appear to prevent demolition as neither state of California nor city of Los Angeles shelter-in-place orders prohibit housing construction or, in this case, housing destruction.

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“Hopefully, the health crisis permitting, the demolition will be allowed to proceed and complete prior to the traditional rainy season in October,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Gary Lincenberg of Bird & Marella.

Messages left with Hadid on Monday were not immediately returned. Hadid’s lawyer Bruce Rudman said his client may still have legal recourse by pursuing an appeal after an upcoming civil trial.

In recent interviews, Hadid has acknowledged that keeping the spec mansion, which he has worked on since 2011 and promoted as the “Modern House of Hadid,” is no longer his top priority. Instead, Hadid is focused on other development projects including a massive residential complex in Cairo, Egypt.

The mansion saga, though, could live on past the property’s demolition.

Plaintiffs are pursuing damages against Hadid in a jury trial put off indefinitely following Los Angeles County Superior Court’s suspension of civil trials due to the coronavirus.

And the FBI is investigating payoffs Hadid allegedly provided city buildings inspectors. In the past two weeks, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has announced an indictment and plea deal related to a federal investigation of the relationship between L.A. city hall and real estate developers.