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Mountain 'Parks'

June 12, 1988

For more than 30 years, huge pieces of land in the Santa Monica Mountains have been commercially developed without the inclusion of usable parkland.

At Marquez Knolls, for instance, hiking accesses were closed as the canyon was filled with cheaply built expensive houses and fire-prone landscape. Not one square foot of the Marquez development was left to the public as parkland.

In the early '70s, residents volunteered to privately improve a utility company-owned lot on Bienveneda for use as a mini-park. The developers and utility executives laughed us off. This could have been usable for 18 years rather than the weed and rat infested hazard it remained until recent development filled it.

So-called "parkland" is a device by which developers can buffer expensive homes without the expenses of maintenance, taxes and other common risks inherent in hillside development and ownership.

While the Coastal Commission preserves brush patches for fires that inevitably consume these areas, citizens and animals are penciled out of the real environment by the lack of green, healthy, fireproof parkland. The rich build tennis courts and the poor play in the streets.

Development practice in the local mountains is a cheat and a permanent physical curse.

CRAIG HEILLER

Hermosa Beach

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