Financially pinched by state budget cutbacks, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday once again postponed a decision on whether to donate or sell 4.5 acres to Calabasas and Agoura Hills for a community center.
Supervisor Ed Edelman, who represents the western San Fernando Valley, wants the county to donate a vacant parcel it owns in Calabasas to both cities for the community center and a gymnasium. The facility would be used by residents of nearby unincorporated county territory as well as by residents of the cities.
Such donations of surplus county land were not uncommon two years ago, before the state slashed the county's funding by more than $300 million.
But because of the cutbacks, the county's chief administrative officer has been urging for the past year that all surplus land be sold or leased, not simply given away. The Calabasas property, located behind the Lost Hills sheriff's station on Agoura Road, has become a test case of the recommended policy.
According to the county's appraisal, the land is worth between $659,000 and $900,000. County officials are proposing that Calabasas and Agoura Hills pay at least $450,000 for the property, using developers' fees that the cities have set aside for parkland acquisition and improvement, including community centers.
But the cities contend that the county's appraisal is inflated because it incorrectly assumes that the triangular-shaped tract can be developed for industrial uses.
The land was donated to the county by a developer in 1984 for public use only, Calabasas Mayor Karyn Foley said.
"The county's proposal is flawed because it would take developers' dollars dedicated to providing desperately needed recreation facilities and use them to pay the county for land that the county received free of charge and that is already dedicated for civic purposes," Foley said.
The matter has come before the supervisors once a week for the past three months, only to be postponed while officials wrangle behind closed doors.
"It's a tough issue, but we're going to work it out," said board Chairwoman Yvonne Brathwaite Burke.
The supervisors are once again scheduled to vote on the matter next Tuesday.