The road to salvation for Calabasas' troubled cityhood campaign may be three miles long and 200 feet wide.
That is the size of a special connecting corridor that incorporation backers may need to bypass a land developer who threatens to separate the western half of their community from the eastern half.
The Irvine-based Baldwin Co. has asked Los Angeles County officials to exclude its undeveloped, 1,300-acre tract in the center of the proposed 14-square-mile city. If the request is granted at a Nov. 18 hearing, about 2,000 homes in the western half of Calabasas will be cut off from the rest of the community and cut out of the city.
Cityhood committee members said they have begun negotiations with company president Jim Baldwin in hopes of obtaining the connecting corridor along the south side of the Ventura Freeway between Parkway Calabasas and Las Virgenes Road in case they are unable to convince him to drop his withdrawal request.
"A continuity strip is a possibility," committee Vice President Dennis Washburn said Thursday. "We're exploring the possibility of being creative."
Incorporation leaders said their first hope is to retain all the land that Baldwin is in the process of purchasing and on which 1,500 luxury homes and a 70-acre commercial center are planned.
They said that, after three meetings with Baldwin executives, the company has not softened its position on exclusion, however.
"Baldwin does want out," cityhood committee chairman Robert Hill informed incorporation backers who met Wednesday night to plan strategy for the November hearing.
"They're more comfortable dealing with the county than with the unknowns of a new city. But we're still negotiating with them, so we'll have the western part of the community in our boundaries."
Hill said County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who represents the Calabasas area, has endorsed city boundaries that include the Baldwin land. Such boundaries were tentatively approved Aug. 26 by the county's Local Agency Formation Commission.
Baldwin Co. officials could not be reached Thursday for comment on the corridor concept.
But administrators of the commission, which will conduct the November hearing, said such a strip would have to be at least 200 feet wide to be legal.
Michi Takahasi, administrative assistant for the commission, said Thursday that it will be up to commission members to decide whether a corridor will be granted to connect the neighborhoods of Malibu Canyon Park, Saratoga Hills and Las Virgenes Village with the eastern neighborhoods of Calabasas Park, Mulwood and Calabasas Highlands.
Cityhood committee members, meanwhile, said they hope to raise $5,000 at an Oct. 28 fund-raiser to pay for legal and financial consultants for the November hearing.