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Neighbors fight proposed Benedict Canyon mansion project

March 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A small Los Angeles community is outraged over plans to build a massive mansion at the top of a canyon.

Developers hope to build an 85,000-square-foot compound in Benedict Canyon, but neighbors are trying to fight the project, saying it's just too big for the neighborhood.

"We're not opposed to someone buying a piece of land and building a house, but don't build something bigger than the White House," said resident Michael Eisenberg.

The proposed project would be built on the 9900 block of Tower Lane, a private road whose residents include Bruce Springsteen. Besides a 43,000-square-foot main house, the owner wants to build a 27,000-square-foot villa as well as a guest house, staff quarters and a 2,700-sqare-foot gatehouse.

Neighbors said they've been kept in the dark from the beginning and that the property owner hasn't been honest about the details of the project. In fact, no one seems to know who the property owner is.

"We have a neighborhood meeting and these representatives come and they say, 'Our client wants to be a good neighbor.' But they won't tell us who our neighbor is," said resident Martha Karsh. "I live right next door to this neighbor. I reached out when they bought the property and said, 'Great, let's have a cup of tea,' and forget about that. I mean this is just a total mystery."

But neighbors said what bothers them most is the thought of having their neighborhood bombarded with construction trucks and crews for several years.

Contractors for the project said they have filed all the necessary paperwork appropriately. They said the project is slated to be completed in three years and will employ hundreds of people.

Meantime, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz said a project of this size needs more scrutiny.

"This project needs to be looked at more broadly and not just be given an approval, a piece here and a piece there. It's not legally the right way to go," said Koretz.