Exclusive: Where’s Kevin? The Secret Home of the LA Times’s New Editor

The location of Kevin Merida’s LA home has long been a mystery. Turns out he lives in a Brentwood guesthouse right across the street from the boss.

When Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong went searching for a new editor last year, Kevin Merida was at the top of his list. But it was unclear if Merida, 65, a well-regarded veteran of the Washington Post and ESPN, could be lured from his longtime home in Silver Spring, Maryland, to a new life in L.A.

The billionaire finally made Merida an offer he couldn’t refusea salary said to be between $700,000 and $1 million, and command of a fast-expanding news organization. 

But while Merida has been at the Times for over a year now, he has been curiously tight-lipped about the location of his new lodgings. “I’ve never heard him say what part of town he lives in,” says one well-placed editor. Merida hasn’t hosted dinner parties or get-to-know-you backyard gatherings. COVID protocols have kept him and many other staffers from coming into the office until recently. Even some of the paper’s top editors say they’ve never met him in person. 

So it’s no surprise that the exact location of Merida’s mysterious West Coast residence has become a subject of rampant speculation at the paper. During internal video meetings, some of the paper’s employees have tried to guess Merida’s neighborhood by analyzing his Zoom background. “He’s always surrounded by a nice stand of bamboo, or a fancy garden or something,” says one Times editor,so I  figure he’s living on some estate.”

Could he have been living in Hancock Park where recently retired New York Times editor Dean Baquet spent much of the pandemic? Or was he chilling in a waterfront condo on Venice Beach, as others have claimed?

Happily, the mystery is now over. (Another scoop for Los Angeles!) According to several wellplaced sources, the editor and his wife, the journalist Donna Britt, live in a two-bedroom, two-bath, renovated midcentury guest house in Brentwood… right across the street from SoonShiong’s massive digs. 

Patrick Soon-Shiong

Photograph by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Merida residence is half of a house that was split into two residences after Soon-Shiong bought it in 2013. The side where Merida and his wife are now living has been used as a guest house for various Times employees, who usually move out after several months. The other half is reserved for staffers of Soon-Shiong’s estate. Soon-Shiong’s property across the road always wows visitorsespecially its underground NBAregulation basketball court where Kobe Bryant used to stop by. 

“The number of people who know about this arrangement is very few,” says a source with direct knowledge of Merida’s living situation. “I’m stunned Kevin is still there. If he really cares about L.A., why hasn’t he bought or rented a home?”

Merida would not comment on his living arrangements, but in a message sent through a Times spokesperson, he defended his commitment to the city where two of his three adult children live and work. “I am thrilled to be living in Los Angeles, a place I was able to visit many times before accepting the role of executive editor of the Los Angeles Times. The work that we do, the people I get to work with, and the community we belong to gives me a sense of pride and possibility every day. I am committed to the L.A. Times and am doing everything I can to help build and sustain it.”

So far, he’s been on a roll. On May 9, the paper won its 49th Pulitzer Prize and the Times claims that it has added more than 100,000 digital subscribers since Merida took over. While he is popular with the paper’s rank and file and with his boss, Merida’s tenure has not been without controversy. Old-timers at the paper have been apoplectic about 404, a new Instagram-focused team conceived the Times’ Audience Engagement department that is helmed by half-a-dozen hipster employees and a zany puppet who weighs in on coverage of drought and floods.

Because the Merida residence occupies its own 20,000square-foot lot, it’s worth about $6 million, a local realtor saysBut if he tires of his new job, Merida isn’t stuck in the Southland. He and his wife still own the Maryland house they bought in 1994, which Zillow values at $708,000. In Brentwood, that would buy a onebedroom condo with a $500-a-month HOA fee and a single parking spot. 

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