It’s an eye-popping proposal: a 166-foot-high fence – as tall as a midrise office tower – to keep errant golf balls from flying off a golf course. And it’s at the center of a spat between the famed Los Angeles Country Club and developers looking to build two luxury condo towers on the old Robinsons-May site next door in Beverly Hills.

The country club operates the 103-year-old golf course straddling Wilshire Boulevard just west of Beverly Hills. It wants to build the 800-foot-long mesh fence – with palm fronds on top – near the 16th hole of the south course to keep wayward balls from hitting the luxury condos, thereby shielding itself from potential costly lawsuits.

But the condo development company, BH Wilshire International of Coral Gables, Fla., says the fence is way too high and will block the view for prospective condo owners, making the residences harder to sell. The fence would be more than five times the 30-foot height allowed under the city of L.A.’s zoning code.

Late last year, after two city of L.A. planning bodies approved a variance to allow the super-tall fence, BH Wilshire filed an appeal to block its construction, calling the fence a last-ditch attempt by the country club to kill the condo project. BH Wilshire is forging ahead with plans to build two towers of 14 to 16 stories containing 235 luxury condos and 16,400 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurant space on the 8-acre former Robinsons-May site. (See sidebar.)

The dispute is set to land before a Los Angeles City Council committee next month – unless the two sides can hammer out an agreement first.

The proposed fence would range in height from 150 feet to 166 feet, depending on ground topography. (The fence would be level on top, so it would be shorter where the ground slopes higher.) It would be composed of a partly transparent black-screen mesh, with supporting poles; one drawing shown early on at a public meeting had the poles adorned on top with faux palm fronds.

Most golf ball containment fences range between 30 and 50 feet high; one of the tallest in the region is a 70-foot-high mesh fence, supported by 100-foot poles, at the Westlake Village Golf Course next to the 101 freeway.

The Los Angeles Country Club fence would be significantly taller than the seven-story Beverly Hilton Hotel next door and would match the height of the nearby Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the tallest commercial structure in Beverly Hills. It would be almost as tall as Century City’s first skyscraper, the 180-foot, 13-story Gateway West office tower just down Santa Monica Boulevard from the golf course. Another comparison: It would be taller than Hollywood’s Capitol Records building, not including the spire at the top.


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