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Parkland: The Role of Conservancy in Acquiring Property

July 28, 1994

In his letter in the July 17 Westside edition, Hyman Haves repeats a misconception shared by some that the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy should have developed Temescal Canyon Gateway Park into playing fields. It is, however, not the role of the conservancy to be a substitute for the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation.

Temescal Canyon Gateway Park is located on property that was owned previously by the Los Angeles Unified School District, which intended to build a junior high on the site. However, the population never grew to the point that another junior high was needed, and the district declared the property surplus and proceeded to sell it. The law requires that before the property could be sold, it had to be offered to public agencies that could buy it at the same price the district paid for it.

It was a golden opportunity for Los Angeles to acquire the site as a park, but it declined to do so. The conservancy stepped in and purchased the property, saving it from private development. The conservancy then developed the property as an important gateway into Topanga State Park, in accordance with the Santa Monica Mountains Comprehensive Plan. The conservancy acted completely within the law.

The conservancy is not to blame for the fact that Temescal did not become a city park nor for the shortage of parks in our community. The city and the district councilmen for the past 50 years are solely to blame for their lack of foresight in providing for those parks. The Marquez Canyon screw-up falls entirely on the city. All we ask is for the conservancy to give the community and the city time to rectify the situation.

JACK ALLEN

President, Palisades Preservation Assn.

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