LOS ANGELES – Driving into the gorgeous, hilly Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles (while, by the way, being followed the whole way by a private security vehicle), you can’t see any of the area's many mega-mansions. They're all tucked behind high-security gates and dark green hedges. However, what you can't help but see is new construction—everywhere—and that’s what makes residents like Jennifer Aniston unhappy.
It’s not that they don’t want new neighbors—they just don’t want the new mansions being built around them to be five, six, or even 10 times bigger than their own.
They call them "giga-mansions," and real estate developers are reportedly buying as much land as they can to build them on, because the houses -- not the lots, mind you -- range from 30,000 to 90,000 square feet, and so require a significant amount of land for their giga-footprints.
Aaron Spelling’s 56,000 square foot home, nicknamed “The Manor” sparked the trend when it reportedly sold for $85 million in 2011 to socialite Petra Stunt. Sitting on 4.6 acres and home to 123 rooms, a bowling alley, a screening room, four two car garages and more, its sale made developers take notice: puny 10,000-foot mega-mansions aren't enough for some of Hollywood's giga-rich.
Aniston, the owner of a 8,500 square foot Bel Air home, is one the the residents fighting against the new construction.
“The very idea that a building of 90,000 square feet can be called a home seems at the least a significant distortion of building code,” Aniston reportedly wrote to a local building agency.
Lee Williams, of Charles Rutenberg Realty, a Long Island real estate agency, understands how these giga-mansions make an exclusive area of land even more desirable, while also making neighborhood folks upset. (Several L.A.-based real estate firms were unwilling to provide a comment in regards to the new super-sized constructions.)
“Of course, those who've been in the neighborhood for five, ten or more years may simply see this a threat to the way of life they have become accustomed to from the earlier days,” he said.
Entertainment lawyer Julian Chansaid there are two ways celebrities can prevent these giga-mansions from being built.
“One is to sue on the basis that building them is a public nuisance that affects the health of the neighbors,” Chan added. “The second is to change the zoning laws, which means a fight to win the heart and minds of zoning commissioners.”
He also predicts more public campaigns by celebrities are on the way.
“I think their best and most cost effective options are to change the zoning laws,” Chan continued. "I predict we will see more public campaigns by celebs in their local city offices.”
Real estate developer Mohamed Hadid, ex-husband of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” Yolanda Foster and father of models Gigi and Bella Hadid, is building a 30,000 square foot home in Bel Air. After building inspectors found Hadid was adding in unapproved features to the development, the city of Los Angeles reportedly issued a stop work order. Hadid’s lawyer, Benjamin Reznik told “Nightline” they have removed the add-ons and will continue to finish the project with the original plans.
Of course not everyone is crying crocodile tears for celebs with mere 10,000 square foot homes.
“I think celebrities are jealous that someone can afford more than they can," says financial expert and entrepreneur Jonah Engler. "The fight over mega-mansions is absurd, as its people worth eight-figures fighting against people worth nine-figures. Give me a break.”
Reps for Aniston, Hadid, Reznik and the Bel Air Home Owner Alliance did not reply to multiple requests for comment.