Laguna Beach cop corroborates ‘Gilligan’s Island’ complaint from Bill Gross’ neighbor

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An illuminated net encasing a glass art installation on Bill Gross’ property in Laguna Beach is reflected in the pool of neighbor Mark Towfiq. Courtesy of Jay Barron

A Laguna Beach police officer testified Monday in Orange County Superior Court that he heard the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song playing from the cliffside home of billionaire Bill Gross while standing inside his next-door neighbor’s house.

Officer Wade Kraus recalled a call for service around 10:53 p.m. on Aug. 1 related to loud music coming from the Gross property at 2475 S. Coast Hwy. After speaking with homeowner Mark Towfiq, Kraus tried to contact the adjacent property owners but was unsuccessful.

“Based on my personal opinion and training as a police officer that level of noise at that time was unreasonable,” Kraus said.

The civil harassment hearing before Judge Kimberly Knill was the latest in an ongoing legal battle between the PIMCO founder and his Laguna Beach neighbors.

The fight between the two cliffside neighbors appears to have boiled over after Gross and his girlfriend Amy Schwartz installed a large glass art installation near the property line they share with neighbors Mark Towfiq and Carol Nakahara, according to court records. After unsuccessful attempts to privately resolve the dispute with Gross and his staff over several months, Towfiq reported the matter to Laguna Beach.

The glass art installation at Bill Gross’ home that sparked a feud with his Laguna Beach neighbor. Courtesy of Orange County Superior Court

In July, Laguna Beach code enforcement notified Gross of the code violations, which includes failing to follow “good neighbor lighting” rules, seek design review approval for the art and a 12-foot-tall structure of steel poles and netting that encase it, and obtain a coastal development permit.

“Since that complaint was made, Mr. Gross and Ms. Schwartz has made Mr. Towfiq and his wife’s life a living hell,” Towfiq’s attorney Chase Scolnick said. “They’ve made it quite clear they’re going to continue until the complaint is dropped.

Forbes estimates Gross’ net worth at $1.5 billion. Towfiq is the CEO of Nextfort Ventures, a data center development company.

In a complaint filed the day before the neighbors’ lawsuit, Gross’ attorney Jill Basinger writes that Towfiq has become “more and more obsessed” with her clients’ activities at the South Laguna property. She added that Towfiq has been spotted recording her clients’ with his smartphone—in addition to multiple security cameras trained pointed at their home and pool.

It appears that Gross and Schwartz have their own history of grievances with the next-door neighbors, according to court records.

In a declaration responding to Towfiq’s request for a restraining order, Schwartz claims Towfie leased out his home to a crew filming for an episode of HBO’s “Ballers” without any notice.

During the week-long shoot, the film crew’s trucks lined Coast Highway, blocking access to Gross and Schwartz’s driveway, she wrote.

“Worse yet, the vehicles impeded the ability of our contractor to get to the house, which occurred just when we were trying to complete several projects in time for my birthday,” Schwartz wrote.

Testimony is expected to continue on Nov. 16 in Orange County Superior Court.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I live in south laguna beach and if i had the same problems where i couldn’t get in and out of my home, and i had paid for a contractor to come in to build something and he couldn’t gain access I’d be just as upset and he would be lucky if all i did was call the police to assist with such an endeavor

  2. Apparently this situation is another in a long line of bitter quarrels between well-to-do neighbors in Southern California’s most expensive neighborhoods. These individuals can sometimes act as children without boundaries who don’t realize their behavior is actually somewhat unruly and childish.
    From my POV, perhaps it’s time for the city government to utilize the governance established under the law to possibly force lockouts of the various offenders so they can understand the blessings they have been given and also stop raping nature when they feel entitled to do so. Not sure who the actual perpetrators are, but the unruly, unethical, and immoral behavior should cease, especially with the current COVID situation and many of our fellow human beings facing devastation in their health and economic livelihoods.
    John Leary, The John Leary Organization

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