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Saudi prince sues L.A. over Benedict Canyon project

May 21, 2012 |  7:25 pm

A Saudi prince seeking to build a mansion complex at the end of a private lane in Benedict Canyon has asked the Los Angeles County Superior Court to order the city of Los Angeles to allow the project to move forward without environmental review.

In a complaint filed Friday, Tower Lane Properties, the corporate owner of a 5.2-acre estate on Tower Lane, said the city under its municipal code had a "mandatory duty" to issue permits.

"Petitioner carefully designed the project to minimize impacts on the environment and the surrounding area," Tower Lane Properties said in the complaint. "The project is therefore 'by right' because it complies in all respects with all applicable building and zoning ordinances and regulations and requires no discretionary approvals."

The property's ultimate owner is Saudi Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz al Saud, a son of King Abdullah. Benjamin M. Reznik, an attorney for the prince, declined to comment further.

For more than 18 months, neighbors have been battling the prince's plan to build a compound totaling about 60,000 square feet -- down from an initial 85,000 square feet -- on three parcels. They contend the project remains out of proportion with surrounding homes and requires environmental review that would evaluate the potential effects of years of grading, hauling and construction.

An opposition leader is Martha Karsh, wife of billionaire Bruce Karsh. He is co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, one of Los Angeles' largest investment firms and one of the largest creditors in the bankruptcy proceedings of Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles Councilman Paul Koretz, who represents the area, has called for a "rigorous environmental review" of the project. Opponents issued a statement calling the prince's suit "just another of his failed attempts to evade local and state laws that the rest of us are required to follow."

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-- Martha Groves

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