The Deputy Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia has launched a US$25m lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles, claiming municipal authorities have bowed to community pressure and refused to issue a building permit for the construction of a mansion.
The US$25m lawsuit was filed on February 5 by in the Los Angeles Superior Court against the City of Los Angeles on behalf of Tower Lane Properties, which is owned by Prince Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdul-Aziz al Saud.
Prince Abdul-Aziz bought three plots of land in 2009 in Benedict Canyon, an LA neighbourhood in the Santa Monica Mountains. The site contains the estate of Oscar-winning Hollywood film director and producer King W Vidor, who was involved the classic movies War and Peace and The Wizard of Oz.
The Saudi royal planned to turn the three plots into a sprawling mansion estate, but was continuously blocked by red tape, despite the fact the designs are “in strict conformance with the city building and zoning codes,” a statement issued at the weekend claimed.
This is not the first time the prince has brought action to push the project ahead and has already won a previous 2012 legal case against officials. Benjamin M Reznik, a lawyer representing the prince, claimed Los Angeles city officials have made new illegal obstacles to the issuance of the building permits.
"Our client had hoped that following last year's victory in court the city would treat his application fairly and process it without further delay. Needless to say, he is greatly disappointed and disheartened by the overt discriminatory treatment he has received," Reznik added. "We are compelled to file this lawsuit because without judicial intervention this illegal conduct will continue unchecked.”
The latest US$25m writ includes a mandate to compel the city to issue the building permits and damages “caused by the city's allegedly illegal and discriminatory conduct”.
Neighbours in the area, which is just north of Beverly Hills, have also opposed the plan for the three sites and have set up a website urging residents to “to stay involved to protect our community from the Prince’s massive plans,” Bloomberg reported.