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Bel-Air Couple Defends Building Project

March 26, 2001

Regarding "Battle Takes Shape in the Toniest of War Grounds" (March 18): We are very concerned that The Times chose to print an article by Patti Davis, who had a serious conflict of interest. Ms. Davis' mother is apparently part of a small group of neighbors opposing our new home project.

The article makes it appear as if the entire Bel-Air community is against this project. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bel-Air Assn., certainly the toughest homeowners' association, approved our project in January 2000.

The article portrays us as insensitive to the environment when in fact:

We have created a landscape plan, pursuant to which we are replacing 12 oak trees with 30 oak trees and replacing 23 non-oak trees with 79 other trees. The number of trees and their sizes all significantly exceed the city's replacement requirements.

Envicom Corp. did an extensive environmental study on our project which, contrary to Ms. Davis' assertion, found that with the replacement of trees in our plan, there would be no significant impact on the environment.

We hired an ornithologist, who determined that there are no owls on our property.

Federal, state and city agencies have reviewed our plans (including the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Fish and Game) and determined that with the mitigation planned, there would be no significant environmental impacts.

We have agreed, at the request of Fish and Game, not to leave the ravine in its wild state as desired by some of our neighbors but to remove all of the ivy and other nonnative plant species--in essence, restoring the ravine to its natural state.

The size of our home is in keeping with many other homes in the Bel-Air neighborhood. In fact, two of the complaining neighbors on our street have homes far larger than the one we have planned. Construction is a constant in Bel-Air; ours is just another in a long line of construction projects that have been part of this community for more than 70 years.

What is different is the level of intensity of the opposition. As you can see from the time, energy and money we have invested in this matter, we are doing everything we can to properly address environmental issues and limit the potential inconvenience our project may cause to our neighbors. We realize that, as in any neighborhood, the opposing residents do not want to be burdened by the imposition of a construction project. Nevertheless, creating issues that are unfounded or untruthful, we feel, is just not right.

ROBIN AND ELLIOTT BROIDY

Los Angeles

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Editor's note: The Patti Davis article clearly stated that the writer's mother had written a letter of opposition to the proposed house.

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Objecting to a proposed new house in their elegant enclave, the pained outcries of Bel-Air's royals ring hollow. Although their resentment is couched in aesthetic and environmental camouflage, what leaps out is the ultimate NIMBY lament.

How ludicrous is it for these self-absorbed moguls, as they peer out from their own multilevel cha^teaus, to grumble about someone else daring to build a similarly huge house down the street?

As for that sacred ravine, if these billionaire nature lovers cherished their private patch of Eden so deeply, why didn't they ante up the required money to buy it years ago?

STEVEN WILDE

Los Angeles

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No one should be building 26,000 square feet for their personal living space, no matter where they want to put it. The Broidys aren't alone in their desire to build an oversized monument to themselves in a beautiful spot filled with wildlife. There are plenty of exceptionally wealthy folks who feel they can use up as much open space, electricity, water, lumber, natural gas and other resources as money can buy. Live well, but stop ripping off the rest of us and the planet by taking ridiculous amounts of our natural resources for your own personal use.

SIDNEY HIGGINS

Los Angeles

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I am a personal friend of the Broidys and am baffled by the uproar. This is a real family trying to build a beautiful home on private property, not some real estate developer trying to create a 100-unit subdivision out of a public park. Perhaps if the neighbors would take the time to get to know the Broidys, they would be thrilled to have this lovely and responsible family on their block.

STEPHANIE BRONSON

Los Angeles

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Letters should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Mail to Letters in Southern California Living, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, or e-mail to socalliving@latimes.com. Letters also may be faxed: (213) 237-7630.

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