The prince's proposed estate drew international attention because his well-to-do neighbors, led by the wife of a billionaire investor, filed suit to stop the mega-mansion. They argued that allowing the various structures on 3 contingent parcels on Tower Lane was akin to building a Wal-Mart in Benedict Canyon.
The neighborhood is a who's who of Hollywood and Los Angeles elite and the battle drew international headlines, including a notable feature in Vanity Fair.
"The neighbors have hired top L.A. lawyers to challenge every detail and step of the process," wrote Michael Shnayerson in the October 2011 Vanity Fair piece. "The prince has hired top L.A. lawyers of his own. There hasn’t been a real-estate standoff like this in the canyon since the early 1990s."
The unanimous 3-judge Appeals Court ruling, which was issued Friday, will make headlines again because of the names involved. In addition to well-known community activist Martha Karch (wife of investor Bruce Karch), other residents near the subject site include TV host Jay Leno, Dreamworks SKG founder David Geffen, former Disney president Mike Ovitz, and David Beckham, the international soccer star.
But few people know that the lawsuit has actually impacted scores of other property owners, including many other Hollywood celebrities, well-to-do Angelenos and other developers of large lots in LA. That's because since early 2012, the city's Planning and Building & Safety departments have required all developments on lots greater than 60,000 square feet to file an extra entitlement case to prove that their project wouldn't result in a de facto subdivision.
That requirement - known as a Waiver of Tentative Map or WTM - has added a couple months and several thousand dollars to scores of projects in the 2+ years since the city started the WTM process. In fact, a LandUseLA.com review of online Planning Department records has found 82 WTM cases since January 2012. The projects that got caught in this extra level of bureaucracy included proposed additions to single-family homes, a new production building at 20th Century Fox Studios on Pico Boulevard, and a new training facility at the Los Angeles Police Department Academy.
Now, with the Appeals Court ruling, those projects will not need the WTM review and many will be by-right developments. Although there has not been an official bulletin released yet by either Planning or LADBS, sources in both departments told LandUseLA.com that Building & Safety will remove the WTM requirement from projects currently submitted at plan-check meetings and will stop adding the WTM requirement to future projects.
Appeals Court ruling: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B244092.PDF
Vanity Fair: There Goes the Neighborhood:
New Training Facility at LA Police Academy: http://planning.lacity.org/cts_internet/index.cfm?urlCaseId=194300&caseNumber=AA-2013-3726-WTM&fuseaction=case.summary
New production building at 20th Century Fox Studios: http://planning.lacity.org/cts_internet/index.cfm?urlCaseId=186692&caseNumber=AA-2012-889-WTM&fuseaction=case.summary