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Rights at Root of Garden Issue

March 27, 2004

Re "L.A. Should Cultivate This Rare Urban Seed," Commentary, March 23: How interesting that we are now at a place, in our forced egalitarianism, that a property owner has fewer rights to his property than a group of squatters. "Can all sides win?" Robert Gottlieb and James Rojas ask. "Yes" is the response, "by relocating the owner." Incredible!

How would Gottlieb and Rojas feel about having to deed their homes to squatters who appropriated their properties while they were on vacation, and being forced to relocate? Oh, I forgot, the property owner in question, Ralph Horowitz, is "rich," therefore negating his rights.

Kevan Patten

Tujunga

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I was a volunteer at the 41st Street urban garden from fall of 2001 until fall of 2003, teaching composting classes and arranging for groups to visit the garden. In addition to its immense value as urban green space and a means of producing many tons of fresh produce annually for the gardeners' families and neighborhood shoppers, this garden also offers special gifts to Los Angeles.

The 14 acres contain a unique cross-section of plants from Mexico and Central America. Papaya and guava trees, giant corn and sugar cane shade medicinal herbs, nopal cactus and many regional Latino vegetables that have no English names. Gardeners share produce, seeds and recipes generously.

Also, schools across the Southland sent hundreds of students to the garden for community-service hours, an eye-opening experience for most of them. With the skyscrapers of downtown L.A. in view, they stood in a green tropical paradise, urban blight just outside the chain-link fence. It is worth far more than its value as real estate -- it is a jewel.

Leslie Crabtree

Altadena

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In this case the owner deserves to get his property back. However, I agree that the concept is a good one.

Instead of taking Horowitz's property "once again" after all this time, I suggest that what the city should do is to take by eminent domain all The Times' (inner-city Los Angeles) printing facilities' properties and turn them into urban gardens. Not only will we have a green spot in an otherwise urban wasteland but we could save thousands of trees from becoming the pulp that is The Times.

Morgan McBain

Venice

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