Here Come the Giga-Mansions; There Go California’s Magnificent Hillsides

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

October 2, 2017
so cal mansion
Home, Sweet, Home: 100,000-square-foot, $500 million monstrosity,
 latest Los Angeles trend. 
Not many Southern Californians know that there’s a 97-acre plot of undeveloped hillside property in tony Beverly Hills, famous 90210 zip code. But the precious land will soon be in developers’ hands, and a huge construction project will be underway. Make way for the mega-mansions; adventuresome locals who enjoyed trekking along the rugged hills with their expansive vistas can store away their hiking gear.

For $250 million, a mere $2.5 million per acre, the buyer will have several development options. Whichever choice the purchaser makes will create the last thing Southern California least needs, more sprawl. The property that overlooks magnificent Coldwater Canyon consists of 12 contiguous plots that could be sold as a lot or separately. Plans to build some of largest homes in the Los Angeles area, including a staggering 75,000 square foot eyesore, are in final approval stages.

As of today, the biggest house under construction in Southern California is a 100,000-square-foot, $500 million Bel Air monstrosity that’s described as a Monaco-style casino. Lexicologists created a new word to describe the massive structures: giga-mansions that will house 30-car garages, champagne cellars, and IMAX theaters.

Paul Habibi, a UCLA real estate professor, understates over-development’s foolishness. “This isn’t a logical thing,” he said. Then Habibi explained why $500 million homes have become the latest real estate fad: “The market size requirement is one buyer.”
 
One buyer market or not, environmentalists are horrified by rampant construction that benefits few at the expense of many. As Kenneth Boulding, President John F. Kennedy’s environmental advisor once said, Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either mad---or an economist." In 21st century Los Angeles, Boulding would have added real estate developer to “mad” and “economist.”

And for California’s less affluent, the state’s exploding population, four-times its 1953 level, has driven housing prices sky-high as this Los Angeles Times’ story details.
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