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City Looks To Expand Runyon Canyon Park With Acquisition Of Neighboring Property

Hikers at Runyon Canyon Park (Photo by phot0matt via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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TMZ may soon have even more territory to cover on L.A.'s most star-studded hiking trail.

On Wednesday, Councilmember David Ryu introduced a motion that would set a possible purchase of 4.76 acres of land adjacent to Runyon Canyon Park into motion. The privately-owned property at the northwestern edge of the park is located at 2450 Solar Drive. Estevan Montemayor, a spokesman for the councilman, told LAist that the park expansion was "something that people have been working towards for a long time."

"This is a chance to protect and expand open space at Runyon Canyon," Montemayor said, adding that because the lot is privately owned, there is a chance that a developer could otherwise purchase it and build on the property.

The valuation for the Nichols Canyon property, which spans just under 15 acres (4.76 acres of which would be added directly to the park, with the remaining acreage preserved as open space) was more than $10 million, but the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit group that facilitates and funds the creation of parks and protected lands, negotiated it down to $8.75 million. The Trust has already raised $4.45 million for the purchase through grants and private donations, meaning a $4.3 million deficit remains.

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There is also a house at the address that is not included in the deal; it would be separated from the parcel and not acquired for the park.

Ryu's motion would direct city staff to report back on using Proposition K funds to close that deficit and expand the park. Once that report is completed, City Council and the Recreation and Parks board could then move forward on the purchase. Friends of Runyon Canyon is also assisting on the project.

Prop K, as it's known, was a bond measure passed in 1996 that generates about $25 million per year to increase and enhance park and recreation space in the city. According to the motion, $2.5 million in Prop K funds was already set aside for the potential acquisition several years ago, and that money has now accrued approximately $1.8 million in interest, meaning the entire $4.3 million needed could be made available through Prop K funds. The "terms for acquisition are moving into place," and the owner is apparently "eager to sell on an expedited basis," according to the motion.

Ryu's motion will likely be voted on early next year. If everything falls into place, the city would donate the funds to the Trust for Public Land, who would then purchase the property and donate part of the land to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) and part of it to the city, both of whom would be responsible for maintaining their respective portions.

If you look at the map below, you'll see two triangular sections of land marked in orange on the right. The lower triangle is known as "the Knoll," and is often accessed by hikers despite being privately owned. According to Becky Bremser, a project manager at the Trust for Public Land, both of those triangles will be transferred over to the city after the land is purchased and will be managed by the Department of Recreation and Parks as part of Runyon Canyon Park. The two larger parcels on the left will be handed off to the MRCA for management, and will be maintained as open space.