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UCLA Moves Forward With Plans to Sell Its Bel Air Landmark

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Hannah Carter Japanese Garden. Photo courtesy of Save the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden.
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A Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied a request in court yesterday to stop UCLA from selling its landmark Japanese garden in Bel Air.

UCLA officials will extend the bidding process until August 15, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"UCLA is selling the garden because it serves no teaching or research purpose and lacks the parking necessary to operate it as a public asset," UCLA stated following the court's decision. "The campus spends more than $100,000 a year to maintain the garden, even as state funding for UCLA has been dramatically reduced. Campus resources are best directed to academic priorities, UCLA leaders say."

The late Edward Carter, a former Board of Regents Chair, and his wife Hannah, donated the garden and an adjacent parcel, worth millions of dollars, to UCLA in 1964 on the condition that it be maintained in perpetuity and never sold, according to the Carters' attorney John R. Walton.

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The family filed a lawsuit against UCLA last week in a battle to save the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden.

UCLA went to court and amended the "in perpetuity" clause in 2010 and is now trying to sell the land for $4.2 million. It cites annual maintenance costs around $120,000, plus another $19,000 for staff, according to the Daily Bruin.

The lush garden was designed by revered Japanese landscape artist Nagao Sakurai in 1959 to resemble the gardens of Kyoto. Los Angeles, state, and national civic groups, including The Garden Conservancy, Los Angeles Conservancy, California Preservation Foundation, the American Society of Landscape Architects and the North American Japanese Association, consider the garden to be one of the finest examples of Japanese gardens in the country and one of the city's greatest cultural treasures.

The organizations, along with the Carter family, called on community and preservation advocates to help save the garden.

Several of the garden's art features, including a garden house, bridges and the main gate, were created in Japan and reassembled in L.A. The secluded koi pond oasis is tucked inside the Bel Air hills, which adds to its serenity but also limits parking and the ability for visitors to enjoy it.