A state appeals court panel upheld a lower court ruling that Los Angeles building officials improperly refused to issue grading permits to a Saudi prince looking to build a three-home compound in Benedict Canyon that has raised the ire of some residents, attorneys for the prince announced today.
The 17-page ruling, which was issued Friday, could force the city to allow Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdulaziz al Saud, the deputy foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, to begin preliminary construction work on his planned residential compound.
City officials could not be reached after business hours for comment on the appeals court ruling.
The prince originally planned to build an 85,000-square-foot compound, but after hearing public protests, he downsized the plan three years ago to about 60,000 square feet. But the project has remained mired in legal disputes, with as many as three lawsuits filed over the city's handling of the plans.
The latest legal battle began when the city declined to issue a grading permit for the project, saying that since it was more than 60,000 square feet, a tentative tract map needed to be approved by the city. The prince's development company, Tower Lane, objected and requested a waiver, but city officials said such a move would require the company to prepare an environmental impact assessment, according to court papers.
Tower Lane sued, and a Los Angeles Superior Court judge sided with the company, ruling that the requirements being imposed by the city only apply when a property is being subdivided, which Tower Lane is not planning to do.
The appellate panel upheld the ruling.
"The city continues to single out the Saudi Prince with new requirements never before applied to other property owners all in an effort to deny him the right to a building permit," the prince's attorney, Benjamin Reznik, said. "This unfair treatment has to stop."
--City News Service