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Roybal Wants U.S. to Buy Altadena Land

August 27, 1989|BERKLEY HUDSON | Times Staff Writer

Rep. Edward R. Roybal, concerned about the environmental impact of a residential development proposed for a 220-acre site in the foothills of Altadena, will seek to get the federal government to buy the property.

"To begin with, I can't support private developers. My opinion, right or wrong, is that the land should be developed for a public use," said Roybal (D-Los Angeles) in a telephone interview Thursday.

On Tuesday, the congressman met with the Friends of La Vina, a group fighting plans for 270 single-family homes with mountaintop views of the surrounding Angeles National Forest.

Contacted Forest Service

Roybal proposes that the U.S. Forest Service acquire the land, much of which lies within the administrative boundary of the national forest but is privately owned.

Roybal said that last week he called the service's regional director in San Francisco. The director, Roybal said, told him that federal engineers would survey the land this week and determine if the government should try to acquire the property.

For most of this century the site was occupied by a tuberculosis sanatorium. Roybal suggests that the Forest Service rehabilitate buildings already on the property for its local headquarters.

But Tim Cantwell, president of one of two development companies that has spent $10 million in the last two years to buy and develop the land, said Roybal's approach is unwise. Besides, Cantwell said, he and his partners already have committed themselves to dedicating half of the land to the national forest. That portion of the land would never be developed, he said.

The dedicated acreage would include parts of Millard Canyon and five other canyons surrounded by indigenous live oaks. Cantwell said he has been discussing dedication of the land with federal officials for several years.

Proceed With Plans

Cantwell said he doubts any federal agencies would want to acquire the land. "But if (the federal government) wants to look at it, they are certainly welcome. Nevertheless, we're going to go forward with our plans to build a housing development."

Whether the U.S. Forest Service operated a headquarters on the land or if there were a housing development, Cantwell maintained that there would no appreciable difference in traffic.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a Sept. 14 hearing to consider the developers' proposals, which will require a zoning change. The county's Planning Commission has already granted its approval for the project.

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