The murky ownership of the Franklin properties meant securing loans was tough, but fast approval for single-family homes meant “we wouldn’t be hurt with grading quantities and we’d work on designs and flush out details,” Mr. Linch said — like driveways as future private roads, looping Cedarbrook and Royalton with Coldwater Canyon. To pad square footage and level the ridge, according to document plans, contractors filled depressions with a million cubic yards of soil.
Mr. Hadid’s 2011 master plan — three-story estates with gardens, pools, libraries, juice bars, butler quarters and stables — seems at odds with his new legal strategy. The developer always envisioned a landmark rivaling the Beverly Park community, Mr. Linch said, but he would have “guard houses on the sides where residents could hike or take their horses down but outside hikers couldn’t come in. Like a fortress. Mohamed was working with the fire department to dedicate a helipad,” so displaced soil was shifted to make it work.
The chance to say you have a private helipad in Los Angeles, Mr. Linch said, would make the asking price “skyrocket.”
At Cedarbrook, he said, Mr. Hadid falsified surveys, illegally uprooted oak and walnut trees, and after years of working together, withheld $427,000 owed to him.
In a 2019 court declaration, Mr. Linch said he contacted the building department and that the reply from an employee was: “I don’t want to know about it.” Mr. Linch said he drove an employee to the ridge, “and I showed him all the issues there. He did nothing. They let the project go through. The only reason it stopped is because Mohamed couldn’t keep up with the loan.”
Jeff Napier, the chief inspector at the building department, said the employee Mr. Linch cited “has not been to that site,” adding that while “9650 Royalton has not been issued a building permit,” the Cedarbrook property is “in compliance with zoning, building and residential codes” for a single-family dwelling.