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Leonard's Irrelevant Storytime: Hey, kids. This is where I start telling a story that meanders off on odd tangents and doesn't have the conclusion I thought it would have.

Today's story is about Saudi Arabia's own Sheik Mohammed al-Fassi, who recently was posthumously slapped with an enormous divorce settlement. Actually, this story is about his old house. That CBS news article will tell you that al-Fassi had a house in Beverly Hills which was burned down in 1980. What it won't tell you is that there's still nothing there[0]. It's a vacant lot with some statuary lions or something near the Sunset sidewalk.

My mother said this was because the Beverly Hills zoning laws prohibit any new development whatsoever, but I don't think that's true. I admit that the inhabitants seem interested in turning any arbitrary piece of fire-scorched land into a park, but assuming the house is zoned R-1, I see no reason why you couldn't build a new gaudy mansion there if there was a gaudy mansion there before.

I think a more likely explanation is that the land has been a pawn in the divorce proceedings, and that now that a judgement has been rendered, something will be built there. If development is in fact being held up by the restless natives of Beverly Hills, it's surely only because of their superstition that anything built on that lot will be as tacky as al-Fassi's place was.

Incidentally, on my trip through the Beverly Hills Municipal Code I discovered that the city enforces a blanket ban on mining and severe restrictions on oil drilling, presumably in some sort of preemptive anti-Beverly-Hillbillies move.

[0] As of the last time I passed by that way, which admittedly was several years ago.

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