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State Senate Extends Life of Mountains Conservancy

June 29, 1989|MARK GLADSTONE | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — The state Senate on Tuesday passed by a wide margin a bill to extend the life of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy until July, 1995.

The measure, by Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles), now goes to the Assembly.

In arguing for passage, Rosenthal said the conservancy has protected sensitive land from growth and development, especially in areas where open space is scarce.

Rosenthal said his aim is to help the conservancy "complete high priority parkland expansion."

10,000 Acres

Since the agency, championed by then-Assemblyman Howard Berman (D-Panorama City), was established in 1979, it has purchased or helped pay for the acquisition of about 10,000 acres of open space and parkland at a cost of about $38 million, according to conservancy figures.

The life of the agency has been extended twice before, in 1981 and 1986. It is currently scheduled to go out of business in 1990.

Besides Rosenthal, Sen. Ed Davis (R-Chatsworth) hailed the agency, declaring: "I started out as an opponent of the conservancy. It came from the liberal Mr. Berman . . . and I was a conservative. . . . "

But, Davis said, "I've looked at what they've done around my district . . . and they've been a very constructive force" for parkland acquisition, especially in fast-growing areas.

According to the Senate floor analysis of the bill, it was opposed by Gov. George Deukmejian's Department of Finance, which maintained that the agency is "acquiring land within the Santa Monica Mountains . . . without provisions for the future development and staffing needed to provide public access and increase recreational uses."

The department said that since the conservancy "is not a park or land management agency," it should be allowed to go out of business and its job turned over to the state Department of Parks and Recreation.

The only vote against the measure, which passed 29-1, was cast by Sen. John Doolittle (R-Rocklin). Doolittle said the conservancy has acquired "enough open space."

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