Famed Luxury-Home Developer Sentenced

Luxury home developer Mohamed Hadid -- better known as the father of models Bella and Gigi Hadid -- was placed on three years probation Thursday and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service for building a Bel-Air mansion in violation of city building permits that has outraged neighbors.

Hadid's attorney, Robert Shapiro, assured Superior Court Judge Eric Harmon that the 30,000-square-foot mansion would be completed and brought into compliance with all codes within two years. An official with the city's Department of Building and Safety told the judge he anticipated the structure would be completed within 3 1/2 years.

Hadid, 68, pleaded no contest May 30 to misdemeanor counts of building a non-permitted structure, failing to bring the building into conformance and failing to comply with an order issued by the city Department of Building and Safety.

"These were serious violations," City Attorney Mike Feuer said at the time. "It was essential to hold the defendant accountable for committing them. We have building and safety rules for a reason and no one is above the law. At the sentencing hearing we'll make our case for strong and appropriate sanctions."

Shapiro told Harmon that his client "has already accepted responsibility" for issues with the home. Outside court, Shapiro insisted the building is not a safety hazard.

"That building is as safe a building as has ever been built," he told reporters.

Harmon also ordered Hadid -- who did not attend the Van Nuys court hearing -- to pay $14,191 in restitution to the city. The judge set another hearing for Sept. 18 to determine if Hadid should pay additional restitution or fines. That hearing will also determine if Hadid should be required to post a bond. City prosecutors have called for him to post a bond that would cover the city's costs of demolishing the mansion if it is not brought into compliance with city building permits.

"One of the reasons we are here today is protect this community from Mr. Hadid," Deputy City Attorney Tina Hess said during the court hearing.

The city demanded that Hadid stop construction on the mansion three years ago, saying the structure on Strada Vecchia Road was being built larger and taller than the city had authorized. City officials also said the building included a series of unapproved features, including concrete decks, retaining walls, basements, stairways and even a subterranean IMAX theater.

City officials pulled Hadid's building permits and issued stop-work orders, but construction continued anyway.

Hadid has been pushing for more time to revise the plans for the building, and it remains unclear if the mansion could ever be brought into compliance, particularly since the city has since imposed even tougher construction standards on buildings in Bel-Air. Under those rules, houses bigger than 17,500 square feet must undergo a more rigorous review that requires environmental studies and can include a public hearing.

Hadid has scoffed at the suggestion of tearing the mansion down.

"Demolish this house? Never!" he was quoted in Town and Country Magazine as saying. "This house will last forever. Bel-Air will fall before this will."

During Thursday's court hearing, Harmon told attorneys, "I want to make sure (the mansion) is safe and get this on a fast track to make this right."

While discussing the building itself, the judge hinted that he was not a fan of the structure, telling the attorneys, "You probably wouldn't respect my opinion on the way it looks."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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