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City, Conservancy Buy 81-Acre Parcel

January 10, 2001|ANNETTE KONDO

An 81-acre parcel across from Calabasas High School has been jointly purchased by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the city of Calabasas, officials said.

The property, which had at one time been proposed for home development, is studded with 900 oaks and 1,000 elderberry, walnut and other trees.

The parcel, which lies south of Mulholland Highway and east of Topanga Canyon Road, was purchased for $1 million at the end of December. Calabasas paid one-third, and the conservancy paid the balance.

Because the property is valued at $3 million, the sale included a significant charitable contribution, said Steve Harris, president of the Mountains Restoration Trust, which negotiated the deal.

"It's a tremendous bargain, with . . . $100,000 to $200,000 an acre as the average going price in the area," said Calabasas Councilwoman Lesley Devine.

About eight acres of the property will be used by Calabasas as a recreational park, perhaps with picnic tables and playground equipment, Devine said. A community meeting will help determine how Calabasas will develop that area.

Most of the land will be retained in its natural state for hiking, equestrian and other uses, officials said. It represents one part of a 640-acre proposed land acquisition that has been on the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's wish list since 1993, said Paul Edelman, chief of planning and natural resources for the conservancy.

To make the purchase, the conservancy will use Proposition 12 funds, Edelman said. The statewide measure, approved last March, is the largest parks bond in U.S. history, providing $2.1 billion to repair and expand local and state parks, preserve open space and wildlife habitat.

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