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DEVELOPMENT : Beverly Hills City Council OKs Plan to Tighten Rules for Hillside Homes


Three years after a billionaire's plan to build a 46,000-square foot mansion caused an uproar, the Beverly Hills City Council has tentatively approved tighter rules for residential construction on hillsides.

The ordinance, passed by the council on a 4-1 vote Tuesday, would require public review of any home larger than 15,000 square feet. The measure is expected to win final approval next month and become law 30 days later.

In 1992, London financier Robert Manoukian planned to build a two-story home complete with gymnasium, ballroom, cinema, library and elevators--plus a six-bedroom guest house--on a four-acre estate in the exclusive hillside district north of Sunset Boulevard.

But nearby neighbors, including actor Jack Lemmon, MCA president Sidney Sheinberg and Ticketmaster executive Fred Rosen, said the house was too large and launched a star-studded campaign that eventually halted construction.

The high-profile battle resulted in a citywide revolt against large homes. And it also led the council to pass an emergency law to require public review of any hillside homes larger than 25,000 square feet.

The threshold was later lowered to 15,000 square feet and is virtually identical to the ordinance passed by the council on Tuesday.

Councilman Thomas S. Levyn opposed the new threshold, saying review should begin at 10,000 square feet. The average size home in the hillside district is about 12,500 square feet, the largest 28,500.

Manoukian, under the company name of Quantieme Establishment, filed a lawsuit challenging the city's denial of his application. The suit is still pending.

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