The Los Angeles City Council voted Friday in favor of finalizing its support of keeping a section of desirable land just north of the city as open space for hiking and wildlife, even though the land was already purchased by the Mountain Recreation and Conservation Authority.
The land, known as Hidden Creeks, was initially proposed as a 285-acre home development, and because the land has already been purchased, the city is not tied to paying for it, according to MRCA officials.
Councilman John Lee filed a motion in September asking the city to enter the purchase negotiations, but the council did not vote on the proposal until Friday.
“For many years, developers have sought to develop this land… for residential development, which would forever change the landscape of the hillsides behind us,” Lee said. “When I took office last fall, one of the first things I did was reach out to (County Supervisor Kathryn) Barger to figure out a way that we can fund and purchase this property, and I’m pleased to say that we have been able to do this.”
According to officials from Barger’s office, the sale of the land was closed just before Christmas. The officials said the county paid $1.6 million for the undeveloped land, $4.9 million came from the California Wildlife Conservation Board and another $200,000 was provided by the MRCA and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for a total of $6.7 million.
Lee, who represents the district near Hidden Creeks, said that in 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to join the MRCA and SMMC to purchase and keep the area as open and recreational space.
According to an MRCA staff report from November, the owners were “willing sellers” and that the authority had tried to purchase the Hidden Creek property for more than a decade.
The MRCA is now in possession of the land and will be responsible for the maintenance of it.
Hidden Creeks is in an unincorporated part of the county but within the city of Los Angeles’s “sphere of influence,” Lee said. It’s also near the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility.
Lee said the land was “highly sought-after” and provides significant trail alignments within the Northwest San Fernando Valley Trails Master Plan.
According to the website for Hidden Creeks Estates and Preserve, the home development would have set aside half of the 285-acre site for open space and parks.
City News Service reached out to Starwood Land Advisors, the developers of Hidden Creeks Estates and Preserve, for comment.
Barger supported Lee’s proposal in September when he first suggested the city enter the purchase negotiations.
“Since my election in 2016, I have maintained that the site is not suitable for development and have been calling for the preservation of the property,” Barger said at the time. “This property is also a significant linkage for wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, and we should not be developing residential homes anymore next to the Aliso Canyon facility.”
MRCA officials said they plan to hold a public dedication of the land on Feb. 21. Details of the event have yet to be finalized.
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