LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday has approved a motion instructing its Department of Recreation and Parks to explore potential partnerships and funding sources to acquire Senderos Canyon in Bel-Air.
The council approved the motion unanimously, which Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky introduced in February, whose 5th District includes the Westside of the city, and neighborhoods on the hillsides.
"So earlier this year, I submitted a motion after we learned that a very large parcel of open space in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains was coming up for auction," Yaroslavsky said prior to the vote. "This Senderos Canyon site remains one of the largest pieces of open space left in the Santa Monica Mountains under private ownership, and has been on the market for years."
"We saw this as an opportunity to begin a conversation about how we collectively -- the state, the county, private partners and community organizations -- could come together to save the land and preserve it for the public benefit," she added.
Yaroslavsky noted that there's been a "robust" organizing effort since she introduced the motion. All the parties are at the table with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, recently designating the site as a significant natural resource.
The councilwomen said the motion allows the department to begin discussions with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy on a potential partnership to possibly acquire the land, as well as explore other partnerships with the county or state with that same goal in mind.
Senderos Canyon, also known as Hoag Canyon, is more than 260 acres, spanning three connected parcels and makes up 6% of the neighborhood of Bel- Air, according to the motion.
Over 90% of the site is undeveloped, and the remaining portion would require intensive infrastructure investments and grading to develop. The parcel of land has been on the market for a decade and has failed to find a buyer.
The land was put on auction for $39 million in January, and the auction closed in March. The parcel remains available and the city has a "unique opportunity" to preserve the land for wildlife and allow for public access to open and recreational space, according to the motion.
Establishing this site for permanent open space and recreational activities is appropriate given it would make strides toward preserving and connecting this habitat to the Backbone Trail, a preserve that stretches 67 miles across the Santa Monica Mountains to the Venture County line.
Senderos Canyon is bordered by other large parcels of public land managed by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
If the city is able to acquire the parcel, it would extend the Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park and the greater Santa Monica Mountains nature preserve managed by the two environmental groups on the west side of Interstate 405, through the wildlife crossing that was built in conjunction with the Skirball Bridge development.