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Ahmanson Ranch Development Project

July 26, 2000

* Re "Ahmanson Ranch-Related Domain Names," Ventura County Letters, July 16.

In this response to the Times editorial, "Free Speech Is the Issue" (July 2), which condemned Washington Mutual's threat of legal action over Save Open Space's use of the Internet domain name ahmanson.org, Washington Mutual Vice President Tim McGarry continues to threaten legal action unless that domain name is transferred to them.

Washington Mutual has no legal claim on the ahmanson.org domain name. The term "Ahmanson Ranch" has been in the public domain since the 1960s as the name for the property that Washington Mutual now wants to destroy with a 3,050-home development.

SOS's use of the domain name ahmanson.org is succinct, and it clearly relates to the Web site's goal of preserving the area known as Ahmanson Ranch.

McGarry's allegation that SOS's "use of ahmanson.org as a domain name wrongfully used the goodwill associated with the Ahmanson name to draw traffic to the site" is absurd. McGarry should do some Internet searches for the terms "Ahmanson" and "Ahmanson Ranch."

A search for "Ahmanson" would reveal that there are numerous references to environmental Web sites (besides SOS) concerning the project, as well as a multitude of newspaper articles about the project. After looking at all the search results, one has to ask: What "goodwill" is McGarry talking about?

Washington Mutual had a before-tax profit of $2.88 billion in fiscal year 1999. Its leaders can attempt to intimidate project opponents by causing them to incur massive legal fees, just as they could alternatively afford to sit down and work out a plan with the public whereby this ecologically valuable area would be purchased for preservation.

PAUL NICHOLSON

Thousand Oaks

*

Re "Ahmanson Ranch," Ventura County letters, July 9.

Unfortunately, the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn. was not allowed a presentation by community leaders and elected officials to hear the real truth about the Ahmanson Ranch development proposal.

This development proposal is urban sprawl at its worst. Smart growth is needed in the urban core with redevelopment of existing housing served by transit.

Washington Mutual's plans to destroy Ahmanson Ranch would add 46,000 car trips a day to commuter routes and local streets, which in turn would add more than 200 tons of smog a year to our air. Our region has the best weather in the nation, yet development proposals like Ahmanson are pushing sprawl into natural watershed areas, destroying the precious few natural resource areas left in California and in turn worsening our air quality.

No, let Seattle-based Washington Mutual "get off the dime" and join us in putting together a funding package with the park watershed bonds, foundation grants and the just-passed state tax credit to purchase this historic California treasure.

It would cost Washington Mutual $200 million to grade away those hills and fill in those valleys and put in all the infrastructure. Washington Mutual should immediately cut its loses in this "money pit" and public relations disaster.

Instead of fighting the people of California, Washington Mutual needs to join representatives of millions to save this historic ranch as the wilderness park and airshed that will serve to supplement Griffith Park for the park-poor greater Los Angeles area and as an open space buffer area for Ventura County.

MARY E. WIESBROCK

Agoura Hills

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