- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Saudi prince is the previously unidentified owner of a proposed mega-mansion site that has been the subject of gold-plated protest in the wealthy neighborhoods around Beverly Hills, the property’s previous owner said Friday.

Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud _ one of the sons of Saudi King Abdullah _ in 2009 bought the three adjacent parcels with the famous 90210 zip code in Benedict Canyon, where the massive mansion on Tower Lane that is roughly the size of the famed Hearst Castle is set to be built, movie producer Jon Peters told the Los Angeles Times.

The prince paid $12 million for the 5.2 acre hillside lot, set up a business, Tower Lane Properties Inc. in London, and made lawyers and contractors sign secrecy agreements to hide his identity.

Residents of the neighborhood that is home to Jay Leno, David Beckham and Bruce Springsteen, held a news conference earlier in the week to publicize their objections to the palatial home.

They complained that the project is oversized for the narrow streets, that years of construction will destroy their quality of life and that the proposal would create mudslide and fire hazards.

“I warned the prince that he was surrounded by very powerful neighbors and that he should be extremely careful in what he proposes to build,” said Jarrett Hedborg, a Los Angeles interior designer who has worked on residences for Prince Abdulaziz in Saudi Arabia, Paris and Beverly Park and consulted on the new mansion.

“Working for the prince for 20 years, I knew his taste,” Hedborg told the Times. “He had expressed to me that he wanted a house that evoked old classic California Spanish architecture.”

Residents said the compound’s size _ a 42,681-square-foot house, a 27,000-square-foot villa, a guest house, staff quarters and a gatehouse _ doesn’t fit in with the neighborhood of stately mansions, with one neighbor complaining that the pool is bigger than his house.

They have formed a group called Save Benedict Canyon, put up a website and gone door-to-door to let their neighbors know about the proposal.

They said city planners need to put the project through a rigorous environmental review and planned to show up with lawyers at the next planning commission meeting April 14.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com