It's not as crazy as you think.
The Laurel Canyon Association and CLAW have initiated an agreement to purchase 17 acres of nearly pristine hillside in historic Laurel Canyon. This land will be maintained as open space by the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority in coordination with CLAW and the Laurel Canyon Land Trust.
Why Laurel Canyon?
The Laurel Canyon neighborhood is one of the oldest hillside communities in Los Angeles. Founded as a nature retreat accessible only on foot or by donkey, it eventually became famous as a mecca for 60's rockers. One hundred years later, it is still home to mountain lions, bobcats, deer, raccoon, owls and hawks. Unfortunately, ongoing development is tearing apart its habitat and disrupting its sensitive biodiversity. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to permanently preserve 17 acres of open space in one of the city's most iconic locations.
The cost of the land is $1.6 Million, but the benefit is priceless: protecting pristine wildlife habitat in the heart of one of the world's largest cities.
With your help, this large, beautiful parcel of LA's natural habitat will be forever free of the threat of development.
Come on! Let's buy a mountain.
Checks may be made payable to:
Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife
P.O. Box 50003
Studio City, CA 91614
Please put "Lets Buy a Mountain" in the memo line.
Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife, Inc. is a public benefit non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation. Please consider making your donation a sustainable monthly donation. All donations are tax deductible.
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Questions & Answers
Who is doing this?
The Laurel Canyon Association (LCA) in partnership with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA), Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife (CLAW) and the Laurel Canyon Land Trust (LCLT) have entered into an agreement to purchase 17 acres of the mountain between Lookout Mountain Avenue and Stanley Hills Drive. All parties have carefully vetted the deal. We also have the backing of Councilman Ryu, Councilman Koretz and County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
Why is the MRCA involved?
The MRCA is a local agency that works with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a State agency) and other agencies to manage open space. They are expert at this, plus they take on the costs associated with management of the land. This frees local organizations from long-term liabilities such as brush clearance, insurance, and taxes.
Why this land?
It's not often that any open space becomes available for purchase, especially a parcel as large and magnificent as this one, in the prime location of Laurel Canyon. All of the most easily developed lots were bought and built upon long ago, so now only the most challenging properties are left. However, that hat has not stopped developers. As land prices go up, developers are willing to pay whatever it takes to develop vacant land, and that goes for this huge parcel, too. As we have seen in past fights, we can slow them down and we can stop them temporarily, but developers will keep coming back until they get what they want. The ONLY way to permanently stop development of this mountain is to buy it.
But there is another, even more important reason. Laurel Canyon is a rural wilderness area. If we want to preserve this style of life for ourselves and future generations, we must act now. If we are serious about preserving an ancient wildlife corridor, natural habitat and the City’s greenbelt, then we must act now. This means reaching into our pocketbooks to buy the remaining open space. In fact, thanks in part to the success of our efforts, The Laurel Canyon Land Trust has been established to acquire more properties in the future.
Is this land in immediate danger of development?
The land was in escrow and being considered for development as a solar farm. Luckily, that deal died. The current owners are keen to sell this property, and plans were drawn up to subdivide the property and build up to four large homes. We were able to persuade the owners to work with a residents group as a way of preserving the property as open space.
What is the land worth?
$1.6 million is way below the appraised fair market value for these 17 acres of pristine wildlife habitat, but the owners have come to believe in our mission to create wildlife habitat and have offered it to us at this price.
What are the terms of the deal?
We have negotiated an agreement to pay the owners $1.6 million over the next 18 months. The deadline for completion of the deal has been extended to December 31, 2017.
Here are the detailed terms of our deal:
• The first installment of $48,000 was due on Nov. 2, 2015. $5,000 became immediately non-refundable.
• On January 1, 2016, $25,000 of the first installment payment became non-refundable.
• On March 1, 2016, the entire $48,000 deposit became non-refundable.
• On March 1, 2016, a second installment of $48,000 was due.
• We had a 12 month "financing contingency period." We could have canceled the agreement prior to October 2, 2016 and our second installment payment of $48,000 would have been refunded.
• We had an 18 month escrow period and the entire $1.6 million needed to be collected by April 3, 2017, but the deadline was extended to December 29, 2017.
We anticipate approximately $20,000 in expenses related to this endeavor. These expenses include web design, printing, accounting, etc. Neither the project organizers nor the companies that they work for will profit from this project.
How will the land be used?
Because we have partnered with the MRCA to own and manage the land as open space, decisions about access to the land will be made by the MRCA subject to public input, some of which we are gathering now. The bottom line is that this mountain will be removed from threat of development. It will remain open space and wildlife habitat. Human use, by definition, will be limited and regulated by the MRCA, just as they do with the other thousands of acres of open space they manage.
Where is the business plan/proposal for this project?
This project was undertaken to preserve open space. There is no plan to use it for business and/or commercial purposes. Please see response regarding the future “use” of the property for further detail.
Would LCA and/or CLAW be erecting a building on the property?
What is the Laurel Canyon Land Trust?
The Laurel Canyon Land Trust (“LCLT”) was established by Jamie Hall as the legal entity to hold the conservation easement. This “conservation easement” is a separate property right that we will retain even after the land is transferred to the MRCA. It will give us the ability to prevent development of the property forever. The LCLT will have a board of directors (to be determined), whose sole job will be to enforce the conservation easement. In the future, the LCLT may play a larger role in spearheading land acquisitions. Because CLAW has already obtained its tax-exempt status, they are spearheading the collection of donations to fund the purchase of the property.
Are any of the people behind this benefitting financially?
No. The founding organizers are unpaid volunteers. We will be adding more volunteers as the project develops, and they, too, will be volunteers. Of course, we will have some paid vendors for accounting, fundraising, etc., but these costs will be recorded and available for inspection.