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Ahmanson Deal

October 25, 1994

Ventura County supervisors hold a public hearing today to consider a request by Ahmanson Land Co. for a three-year extension to their development agreement. That Ahmanson even has the nerve to ask proves once again how well the public has been misinformed regarding their project.

When Ventura County supervisors approved Ahmanson Ranch, they insisted Ahmanson "cause to be transferred" to the public four properties belonging to Bob Hope before the new city could be built (coincidentally on open space). The development agreement between Ahmanson and Ventura County had a very specific drop-dead clause--if for any reason at all this was not done within three years, no project.

Less than two years later, Ahmanson officials are back asking for another three years to meet their obligations. They cite nine lawsuits delaying them, but fail to mention the extensive clauses they wrote into their development agreement protecting themselves with more time from expected lawsuits.

If the project dies, what happens? Supervisor Maria VanderKolk has protected Jordan Ranch and Liberty Canyon--bought by the public not because of Ahmanson, but in spite of it.

Ahmanson Ranch reverts back to open space, at an acquisition price Ahmanson would gladly take to get off the hook. The price of Bob Hope's last parcels (Runkle and Corral) to the public will drop dramatically once nobody is fighting over it as a precondition anymore.

Ahmanson knew the deal and risks up front. Ahmanson deserves no extensions of time.

JANICE LEE

Calabasas

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The much-ballyhooed Ahmanson deal is quite different than originally promoted. The much-touted public benefits are sloughing off, leaving only the development with all the damage it will do and its grab for the public purse.

The Santa Monica Conservancy committed $29.5 million of public funds toward the purchase of four canyons which, once in public ownership, gives Ahmanson the go-ahead. Why should the conservancy, an agency charged with protecting the natural values of our mountains, use public money to help Ahmanson build its environmentally destructive mini-city polluting Malibu Creek all the way to Santa Monica Bay?

The canyon owners, not having signed the agreement, set their own price. With only two of the four canyons purchased, the money is gone. Ahmanson's lawyers state it, too, is probably unable to purchase the remaining canyons.

The public is likely to buy Ahmanson's promised "donation" of 2,600 acres as well. Turns out this was not a "donation" but a "dedication" the public may have to purchase.

Amelioration of the gridlock on this part of the Ventura Freeway (over 18,000 additional daily trips at Las Virgenes Road) will come from public funds as well, not Ahmanson.

Yet Ahmanson has the nerve to ask Ventura County supervisors for more time. The Ahmanson project is out of control. Stop using public money to promote this fiasco.

SUSAN GENELIN

Studio City

Susan Genelin is regional representative for the Endangered Habitats League.

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