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Shady Developer Wins Rights To Keep Hikers Off His Property

Hastain Trail overlooking Los Angeles. (Zach Behrens/ LAist)
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Mohamed Hadid, the developer responsible for the construction of monstrous megamansions and more than a dozen Ritz-Carltons across the world (and who's also the father to supermodels/Real House-daughters of Beverly Hills Bella and Gigi Hadid), caught a break recently when a court ruled that he would be able to block hikers from accessing a trail that cuts through his property.

The L.A. Times reports that last week, an appellate court sided with Hadid, who has been going head-to-head on the terms of land usage with the activist group Friends of the Hastain Trail. They believe that they have a right to use the Hastain Trail as is, even though the trail goes through 45 acres of the 97 acres Hadid owns, and plans to develop.

The Hastain Trail, a scenic loop in Franklin Canyon Park between the San Fernando Valley and Beverly Hills, has been used by hikers since the 1960s. This is what it looked like in 2009.

We first wrote about Hastain Trail being threatened in 2011, when hikers first began to prepare a lawsuit against Hadid. An attorney for the group, at the time called Save Franklin Canyon, said their case would be based on "implied dedication," which gives "public rights over private land if it is proved to have been used as a trail for five years consecutively before 1972."

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And it worked, in 2013, when a judge said Hadid had to stop any interference with public recreational use of land. Hadid told the Times last week, "I don't believe the lower judge really understood the case. I don't think she even had a clue about real estate. She just decided to side with the hikers rather than the ownership."

Here's what Hadid's plans were for the land, as noted by the L.A. Times in 2013:

Hadid said he wants to build six or seven houses on the ridgeline. He envisions a mix of luxury Mediterranean and contemporary-style homes, structured to blend into the mountainside, with at least 10 acres separating them.

But last week, when a judge overturned the 2013 ruling, Hadid said the years-long legal battle "has been very costly for me, mentally and financially over the years," he told the Times. "Now I can continue the process of development."

Hadid said that he plans on creating an "alternative" trail for those who still want to hike in the area. "I want to make it comfortable to hikers," Hadid told the Times, with "lookout points, areas to rest and have a drink, and safe entry and exit points."

From his Instagram, it's pretty clear that he really does care about nature:

But those with Friends of the Hastain Trail don't believe him: for one, the proposed alternative trail doesn't reach any peaks, is at a lower elevation, and the views aren't as good. Not surprising, considering the prime real estate with the billion-dollar views will likely be reserved for a pad that looks like this.

"He says stuff, but that doesn't mean anything will happen," said activist Ellen Scott.

And why should they trust him? Aside from producing gauche "luxury" architecture he pimps out, he's also engaged in some very shady business practices.

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Last January, Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie sued Hadid for $90,000, claiming he "brutalized her eucalyptus tree" while in the process of building the grotesque 30,000 square feet megamansion known as "Strada Vecchia" in Bel Air (more on that project below). And while we won't be shedding any tears over the loss of a Walmart heiress' tree, it's just one example of the crudeness of Hadid's business practices that can only come with ludicrous amounts of money.

Six months later, the city demanded Hadid tear down several aspects of the Strada Vecchia construction, such as an underground movie theatre, retaining walls, and concrete decks. So sad, right? But the saga didn't end there—in December, Curbed referred to it as L.A.'s "most illegal megamansion," citing criminal charges filed against Hadid, including illegal use of land, building without a permit, and failure to comply with Department of Building and Safety orders. City Councilman Paul Koretz called Hadid a "blatant scofflaw."

And according to the Daily Mail, an expose about the Strada Vecchia that was supposed to be published in Vanity Fair was scrapped...perhaps because Hadid's daughters are often featured in the magazine.

Hadid did say that there were certain liabilities that came with allowing hikers access to his property, such as the responsibility that might befall the owner should someone injure themselves while hiking. He told the Times that "he once volunteered to pay a woman's hospital expenses after she was bitten by a dog that was unleashed by another hiker on the property." He did not, however, pay for the time a hiker fell into a hole, or when another was stung by bees.

Fair point. But when you're literally a billionaire, shelling out for an antihistamine every now and then is just chump change, right?

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