Degnan has managed to create a fantasy world high on Via Romero, where the wealthy and the beautiful can see and be seen, where the culture behind plastic surgery is in full swing. He even has his own unusual set of party rules.
The rules go like this: If you are a man, you must bring two ladies with you. If Dr. D doesn't know you, you must send a photo of yourself before your RSVP will be approved. Guys get to enjoy the phenomenal ratio. Girls get a sense of validation. And Degnan gets to run the show.
"I think he just wants to feel like he's 'King of the Hill,'" said one former patient and partygoer, who asked to remain nameless.
On that warm Indian summer night in September, the ladies were donning body paint and underwear in preparation for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" bash. They were told to wait at the plaza, where they would be picked up by Degnan's personal limousine and shuttled up a long windy driveway to the event.
Only this time, the scantily clad caught the attention of the wrong neighbors.
Police were eventually called and the gathering - which had reached 800 people by 4:30 a.m. - was broken up shortly after, according to police reports.
Degnan is no stranger to complaints about his parties, which he's held about two to three times a year since 2003. In the past three years, he's acquired a bible-thick stack of court papers in his name. They stem from a lawsuit filed by the Jones Ranch Home Owners Association - the gated community of about two dozen multi-million dollar homes where he lives.
Court records show the homeowners caught wind of one not-so-subtle get-together, after a series of low-altitude helicopter landings were used to transport some of his more extravagant friends from the party around 1 a.m.
The association then pushed to pass what Degnan's lawyers say are some very Dr. D-specific homeowner amendments - restrictions on private events.
Some of the amendments were reasonable; others tested the limits of what an HOA should be able to dictate. But you be the judge.
One rule forbids running hot tubs after 10 p.m., due to noise. The next forbids helicopter landings and light aircraft takeoffs. Another mandates that in order to have more than 100 guests in your home, residents must clear it with the HOA six weeks in advance. And the final amendment limits parking in the common area to 10 vehicles.
For the regulations to pass, over 75 percent of homeowners needed to approve them, which was not a problem in Jones Ranch. During the trial, a county judge found all but one of the amendments were common courtesy. The judge found a rule raising the penalty for violations from $50 to $25,000 unenforceable.
After Degnan voted against the amendments, the homeowners sued him saying he planned to break the rules. And they won.
But the verdict treads onto some dangerous territory, says Degnan's attorney, Paul B. Justi.
It threatens to turn Jones Ranch into a "Stepford community," where no one is allowed to have opposing opinions without getting sued. The real issues here are about invasion of privacy, personal freedom and forced conformity, he says.
Sure, this is Alamo - not L.A. Neighbors are lawyers and businessmen, not playboy bunnies and Hollywood hotshots. But once you start passing tailored laws about what people can do on their property, where does it end?
Could there be a rule forbidding Harley-Davidson use? Those are noisy. Or one that limits impromptu soccer-team barbeques to 20 persons?
What would the businessman with a motorcycle do? And what about the soccer mom who wants to celebrate a victory?
"Like it or not, in a free society, you cannot control people's lives down to the most minute detail and occasional ruffled feathers are the price we pay for those freedoms," Justi wrote in Degnan's post trial reply.
In general, cases like these rarely make it to court, since the losing party must pay the winner's attorney fee. Homeowners associations are usually able to split those fees among several members, while the person opposed must bear the financial weight himself.
Most individuals don't have the money or the energy to take on a lawsuit like this. Degnan has both.
Ultimately, he says, it's his way of life that bothers the neighbors more than anything.
"Nobody has ever complained to me about the noise. I really believe I have neighbors who are much more concerned about my lifestyle - what the girls were wearing," he said.
He thinks it's difficult to hear or see anything on his isolated 13-acre property from the Jones Ranch Estates, located below and to the right of his hilltop. He says the HOA has singled him out in the mostly family-oriented community, for living a single, sometimes flamboyant lifestyle.
The current president of the HOA declined to comment because the case is now being appealed.
But neighbors even further down the hill from the parties, outside Jones Ranch, had a lot to say. They were quick to explain that the parties do affect them personally. The events disrupt their rest - and that's where the line should be drawn, one neighbor said.
Joan Parodi lives directly down the hill from Dr. D and says the parties keep her up all hours of the night. Her bedroom window and back yard face his home and when the sound echoes off the hillside, it goes right through her single-paned windows.
"I'm sitting here listening to people scream until 5 in the morning," she said. "They're all underage, drinkin' and havin' sex up there... They're running around in their underwear." She said she hears them a couple times a year.
She and her husband have considered a lawsuit as well, namely because it affects their quality of life. But as long as Dr. D keeps it quiet at a reasonable hour, she said she doesn't mind that the parties happen.
"There's a DJ that comes on and yells, 'Go, go, keep it going,'" she said. "I don't care if he has them, just keep it down after 2 a.m."
Degnan acknowledged the possibility of sound from his shindigs traveling downward, in the direction of Parodi's home. But his back yard faces away from Jones Ranch and is separated by several acres, he said. In his mind, the people who are suing him are less affected.
Partygoers recalled the events include dancing, sometimes white drugs like ecstasy, swimming, free booze and several beds around the house to encourage public sex.
To be fair, though, rumors about the parties have been known to fly, even among party-goers themselves. For a while there was word Degnan keeps live white tigers in cages outside. (Not true, but he gives the originators points for creativity.)
"I call them 'pedophile parties,'" said the woman mentioned above who is a former patient and partygoer.
She used the phrase as a joke, but said there was some truth to it since her 17-year-old daughter attended one party without her permission. She suspects Dr. D throws the bashes as a way of making plastic surgery look attractive to the younger crowd - then to nab them as clients.
Degnan is one of the only plastic surgeons in the Bay Area that doesn't advertise. He finds clients completely by referral.
"My guess is that's how he markets himself, how he brings in younger girls," the woman said. "He's a nice person, he's never done anything mean. He just needs to grow up."
Photos of guests from the elite social networking site, eVelvetRope.com, show a mostly gorgeous female crowd at his gatherings, along with some male body-builder types.
Every now and then, a celebrity like Sean Penn will show up and professional athletes almost always do. Up there, sweeping views of Mount Diablo are as good as they get.
On an unannounced visit to Degnan's home, after a long trek up his driveway late one afternoon, this reporter was greeted by a shapely, tan young woman in blue medical scrubs. She answered the door, then called for Kevin. The burly doctor was welcoming and warm, but quick to go off the record.
He called later to set up an interview - to explain his side of things in more depth.
At Uptown Cafe in Danville, over a couple glasses of ice water, the subject of the lawsuit caused a deep wrinkle in Degnan's brow.
There are a slew of things that upset him about the situation. He explained it took him years to find the secluded property and he bought it because he enjoys being a host and sharing what he has. The amendments intrude on the enjoyment of his private property, he said.
"I've never asked them what they do inside their homes. I like being with a group of people and I really do think of these parties as being harmless," he said.
When neighbors complained of the noise and "riffraff" Degnan's events brought into Alamo, originally, they explained there was more potential for theft, DUIs and crime on the nights they occurred.
But reports from his last two romps show the only directly party-related crimes happened on Degnan's property and were relatively minor.
The alleged violations included theft of a wallet, resisting arrest by a drunken guest, and disturbing the peace. Degnan was cooperative when police arrived and said he hadn't expected that many people to attend, reports show.
Next, he explained he feels this is an issue about personal freedoms. He says he shouldn't have to ask his neighbors permission to throw a party, like some grounded teenager.
"It's like free speech. You're going to hear things you don't agree with. But if you are really a believer in it, you tolerate that for a free society," he said.
In the wealthy Jones Ranch Estates, it's not unheard of for residents to be targeted for opposing viewpoints. Court papers indicate leaders of the vote encouraged residents to "shut up about it" if they didn't agree with the amendments. In Degnan's case, he feels targeted because he's different - because he doesn't have two kids and a mini-van.
Initial complaints were about the way his guests looked and the fact that he was bringing his black friends into Jones Ranch, according to Degnan and his attorney.
Michael Moody, then Home Owner Association president, noted at a meeting that having Degnan's black guests in the neighborhood made him nervous, Degnan said. (Moody resigned as president shortly afterward.)
A deposition shows Moody ordered Degnan to tell his friends to "go back to Oakland." That was the conversation in which Degnan threatened to make Moody's "life hell" - evidence used against him to show he did plan to break the new amendment rules.
Several Jones Ranch homeowners did side with Degnan on those issues of personal freedoms and have even attended parties. But they didn't return calls by press time to comment.
There is a mold to fit in at Jones Ranch, Degnan said. He explained that husbands spend a little more time taking out the trash to snoop on party nights - because his friends aren't the norm in Jones Ranch. Instead of knocking on his door or picking up the phone, he said, the neighbors, headed by a retired attorney, went straight for the legal documents.
Down the hill, outside of Jones Ranch, one younger neighbor said it's difficult to want to side with a hedonistic multi-millionaire - but that Degnan raises some good points. The neighbor recalled hearing party noise once.
"Go anywhere in Jones Ranch and see if you can hear my home. I am incredibly respectful of other people," Degnan said.
The word "respect" kept popping into the conversation, as Degnan detailed his party philosophy.
"Yeah, there are more women than men, but it's really more respectful than disrespectful to women," he said.
His rational goes like this: Fewer men equal less trouble.
"Guys are on their best behavior. There is nothing to argue over. There's no need to be macho. The women tell me they feel comfortable, that it's a safe environment," he said. And the policy to send photos ahead of time was to keep out people that he and his friends don't know, he explained.
Today, Degnan's approximately $4 million, three-lot home is in danger of foreclosure. He has spent over $400,000 on attorney fees and has "basically become a lawyer" in the past few years.
Currently the case is being appealed. This time Degnan hopes the judge will require the HOA prove he planned to break the amendments or has ever broken them.
Looking back, he says he would have done things differently. No regrets about the girls or the parties. Just about taking on a group of people with so much time and money on their hands, he says.
"I'm stubborn. When someone pushes me, I push back," he said.
This story contains 2241 words.
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