By Calvin Palmer
Hollywood stars and celebrities are locked in a legal battle over who has access to a gated road. Like battles of old, there is a north and south divide. In this case, it is residents of North Beverly Park versus those of South Beverly Park. And just like in the past, it is the south that fired the first shot.
In May, residents of South Beverly Park, among them Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson and movie producer Richard Zanuck, sued the North Beverly Park residents, people such as Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Reba McEntire, Sylvester Stallone, Barry Bonds and media moguls Haim Saban and Sumner Redstone.
The dispute started when the 64-home North Beverly Park Homeowners Association began restricting access to a road that residents of the 16-home South Beverly Park community had been freely using for two decades.
Under the new arrangement, the southern residents could continue to enter through the northern gates at Mulholland Drive but contractors, nannies and gardeners had to take a seven-mile detour.
This exclusive neighborhood comprises mansions in Tuscan, French chateau, Spanish and modern styles, set on lots varying in size from one acre to 3.5 acres. Of the handful of houses on the market, the cheapest is $14 million, the most expensive is $50 million.
Brian Adler, who helped develop the sister communities beginning in the mid-1980s, said the concept of having guards and gates was intended to make Beverly Park stand out from the other three top Westside neighborhoods, Beverly Hills, Holmby Hills and Bel-Air.
For more than 20 years, residents of the dual communities have enjoyed neighborly relations. All residents of South Beverly Park, their relatives, friends and “business invitees” had access to their homes from the north.
In March 2006, the North Beverly Park homeowners sent a demand to the south asking for $121,000 year to pay toward the cost of maintaining the roads, gates and security.
Southern residents rejected the demand. The legal letters flew back and forth eventually culminating in demand for $128,000 by the north.
In May 2007, northern residents informed the south that their relatives, staff, vendors and guests would no longer be allowed to enter the northern neighborhood’s gates at Summitridge and Mulholland drives.
Southern residents complained that such a restriction could lead to the denial of access to a fiancée, grandparent or domestic partner. In addition, construction vehicles would not be able to gain access to South Beverly Park because they could not navigate the steep narrow streets above Sunset Boulevard.
The south argues that the conditions, covenants and restrictions for both the south and north developments made clear that residents of both communities were to have free and full access through the north gates; a provision that represented “a valuable property right” for each South Beverly Park homeowner.
The south claims the restriction has diminished the value of properties in South Beverly Part, as well as inconveniencing relatives, friends and others.
Attorneys –Steven Goldberg for the south and Jeffrey Huron for the north – are expected to make their closing arguments on Friday in Santa Monica Superior Court before Judge Norman P. Tarle.
Irena Medavoy, wife of movie producer Mike Medavoy, and resident of the north said “We don’t know who is coming in.”
She added that requiring payment from southern residents was only fair, given that she and her neighbors in the north pay a few thousand dollars a month for security.
“We are going to have to add extra security,” she said. “You have to stop them, know who is coming through. We videotape them. Then you have the patrol cars. It’s like Mossad security here.”
Whatever the outcome in this case, one thing is certain – attorneys Goldberg and Huron will be laughing all the way to the bank. And then there will be the appeal and they will laugh some more.
[Based on a report in the Los Angeles Times.]