WALNUT — The county has agreed to assume jurisdiction of 70.9 acres in the hilly northernmost part of the city as a possible first step toward building equestrian trails there and on adjacent county land.
County Supervisor Pete Schabarum, who has promoted construction of equestrian trails, supported the land transfer, said Ray Andersen, a Schabarum aide.
Walnut officials have supported the transfer because a hill between populated sections of the city and the parcel makes the land difficult to develop.
The county has not formally proposed any possible uses for the land, which is inaccessible from other parts of Walnut, Andersen said.
Planning for the trails, he said, will begin once the Walnut City Council approves the transfer, which is expected on Aug. 13. County officials hope either to have private owners develop the land, or acquire it through eminent domain.
Schabarum, who lives near the parcel and owns two horses, considers the area "good for (its) equestrian atmosphere, and this will enable him to have a little more say over the trails that might be built," Andersen said.
"Promoting equestrian trails and recreational facilities in general has been one of his major efforts," Andersen said.
Andersen said there is no conflict of interest in the supervisor's position, even though Schabarum lives so close to the site, because he "has pushed equestrian trails all over his district" and the surrounding areas.
The Walnut City Council asked the county to take the land, said City Manager Linda Holmes.
Holmes said the 70.9 acres have not been developed because there are no roads into the area, which is north of Mt. San Antonio College.
The hill, called Buzzard Peak, has been declared open space by the city, which imposes strict open-space requirements on builders.
Buzzard Peak "is so hilly that the cost for the grading in that area would be very expensive," she said, adding that the cost of sewers, roads and maintenance would be prohibitive.
County approval of the transfer came at a hearing Wednesday of the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), which is in charge of boundary changes that affect county-supervised land. There was no opposition.
The change will become final when LAFCO receives certified copies of the final council resolution.
Improvements in Exchange
Holmes said that in exchange for the land, the county has agreed to allot $650,000 for improvements on Temple Avenue.
Holmes said the money will partly fund a $2-million project to widen the street and rebuild drains. Temple Avenue has not been renovated since the city was incorporated in 1959, she said.
Andersen said Schabarum also supported the transfer because the owners of the land, San Dimas-based Via Verde Development Co. and First Interstate Bank, would prefer county jurisdiction.
Michi Takahashi, an administrative assistant for LAFCO, said Via Verde and First Interstate both submitted written statements to the county saying they had no reservations about the transfer and LAFCO approved it without discussion.
A spokesman for First Interstate Bank said he was unaware of the transfer agreement. But he said the bank plans to sell its portion of the site. No one could be reached for comment at Via Verde.