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Senate Panel OKs Conservancy Bill : Would Extend Santa Monica Mountains Agency 4 Years

May 16, 1985|MARK GLADSTONE | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — A measure to extend the life of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy four more years passed its first test in the state Senate on Tuesday

The bill, carried by Assemblyman Gray Davis (D-Los Angeles), also was revised to allow the agency to spend $6 million to purchase 973 acres of open space in Lower Zuma Canyon in Malibu.

The entire package was approved on a 5-2 vote in the Senate Natural Resources and Wildlife Committee and sent to the Budget Committee. Sens. Milton Marks (R-San Francisco) and John Seymour (R-Anaheim) voted against the proposal, which won Assembly approval last month on a 60-7 vote.

Since the conservancy was formed Jan. 1, 1980, the state agency has spent more than $15 million to acquire about 3,600 acres for park land, primarily near urban areas, either for itself or for other agencies such as the National Park Service.

Would Extend Deadline

The conservancy is be phased out July 1, 1986. Davis' measure would extend that deadline until 1990.

Under the Davis bill, the future of the conservancy would be decided after a 1987 legislative hearing on the conservancy's record.

Under questioning from lawmakers, Davis said he would abide by the recommendations that stem from the hearing. But he added, "I don't see it (the conservancy) going on indefinitely."

In the meantime, Davis persuaded the committee to include the $6-million appropriation for 973 acres north of Pacific Coast Highway and west of Kanan Dume Road. The area would be used for camping, picnicking, hiking and horseback riding.

Joseph T. Edmiston, the agency's executive director, said the proposal is conditioned on his obtaining "adequate assurances" from the National Park Service that it will buy the land within four years.

Under provisions of the bill, if the purchase is not made in four years, the conservancy would be required to sell the property at fair market value.

However, Edmiston and a representative of the Park Service expressed optimism that Congress would set aside the money.

The 973 acres, along with an adjoining 530 acres, are owned by the Adamson family, who are descended from the Rindge family, which first acquired it in 1890.

Willing to Sell

Edmiston said the conservancy will also obtain an option to purchase the other 530 acres.

Alfred Edgerton, director of legal services for the Adamson Cos., said that the firm had once planned to build a golf course and a hotel on the hillside property.

But because both the state and the federal government have assigned it a high priority for parkland, Adamson Cos. is willing to sell, he said.

"Rather than go to court, we're willing to negotiate a sale to the state," Edgerton said.

Daniel R. Kuehn, superintendent of the park service's Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, warned the committee in a letter that if the sale was not approved Adamson could "pursue other options" or "a delay in acquisition could result in higher future cost."

But Marks opposed the measure. Marks said he supported a package of amendments proposed by County Supervisor Mike Antonovich that would, in part, allow local government entities to sell their mountain land at market value.

Antonovich's suggestions were rejected in the Assembly, but Marks said, "I believe local government should have further say" over transactions in the mountains.

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