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Deukmejian Signs Bills to Buy Movie Ranch, Parkland

October 01, 1987|MARK GLADSTONE | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian has signed a bill providing for the purchase of a former movie ranch in Simi Valley and 175 acres for recreational purposes in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The purchase of the former movie ranch, known as Hopetown, was included in a bill by state Sen. Dan McCorquodale (D-San Jose) appropriating about $20 million in state tideland oil revenue for 60 pet legislative projects throughout the state.

It sets aside $1 million to preserve as parkland 172 acres of Hopetown and $1.4 million for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to buy about 175 acres of Solstice Canyon near Malibu. The law also appropriates $725,000 for an interchange on the Golden State Freeway at Lyons Avenue straddling the communities of Valencia and Newhall.

The bill, signed late Wednesday, was one of 170 the governor had before him on the last day he could veto legislation sent to him by the Legislature, which adjourned for the year Sept. 11.

One of those bills, which Deukmejian signed, was a controversial measure on blood research by Assemblyman Tom Bane (D-Tarzana) setting aside $200,000 to study the relative risk of contracting disease from blood components donated by volunteers and paid donors.

Donna Lucas, the governor's deputy press secretary, said Deukmejian signed the McCorquodale bill--even though some of the items, including Hopetown, had been vetoed previously--because the legislative leaders indicated "that these are priority projects, and this is what they wanted the money used for this time."

Joseph Edmiston, executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, a state agency that has pushed the Hopetown project, speculated that the governor went along with the Hopetown appropriation because of the bipartisan support for the entire bill.

"The projects have had a lot more scrutiny than they did last year," he said. Both parties "made sure there weren't turkeys in there begging for a veto."

The Hopetown provision redirects more than $2 million the City of Burbank received in 1985 to help purchase land in Cabrini Canyon. That project cannot be completed, so the law allows Burbank to keep at least $1 million to improve and develop parks in the Verdugo Mountains and divert another $1 million for Hopetown.

Western Heydey

In the heyday of movie Westerns, Hopetown, formerly known as Corriganville, was a movie ranch where more than 3,500 films and television series were shot, including "Gunsmoke" and "The Lone Ranger." Edmiston said fire has destroyed most of the old Western town.

The site was renamed Hopetown when comedian Bob Hope purchased it in 1965. The ranch is under option to Griffin Development Co., which is willing to sell the property.

State funds are needed to acquire the land, clear away building slabs and build parking lots, roads and restrooms.

The conservancy, which buys mountain land that rings the San Fernando Valley, must now hold a hearing on the purchase. That hearing was set for Tuesday in Simi Valley.

The City of Simi Valley and the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District are expected to also chip in funds toward the total price of nearly $1.8 million.

The Solstice Canyon is considered valuable because it preserves the way the Santa Monica Mountains appeared before the 20th Century. The state already owns 220 acres of the canyon.

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