Los Angeles

Preservation Groups Financing Purchase of Laurel Canyon Land

Like many longtime Laurel Canyon residents, Sylvie Drake has fond memories of how unspoiled these ridgelines used to be.

"They used to call this area the 'coyote pits,'" she said.

Her children and their friends would play here, on a 17-acre portion of "Lookout Mountain."

But in recent years, superwealthy developers started buying things near their home, then building mansions.

"There used to be a tree house there," Drake said. "They cut down the tree as well as the house."

Then, a year ago, residents got wind of this plot being offered for sale — a wildlife corridor for deer, coyotes and mountain lions.

It had remained undeveloped, except for a row of unsightly power lines.

There was talk of building a solar farm or a cluster of homes with million dollar views: the LA skyline, Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign in the distance.

Jamie Hall's Laurel Canyon Association united with Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife to take action.

They hatched a crazy plan.

Why not buy the mountain, negotiate with the owners, come up with a fair price and then take donations to finance it?

"It was very difficult and that is not an exaggeration," Hall said.

They knew the owners had struggled with selling the property — in part, because of those unsightly power lines.

So they negotiated a $1.6 million price, far less than a subdivision might have cost.

The only stipulation? Raise 50,000 by Nov. 2, with Escrow closing in 18 months.

The owners said, "it's a deal."

For more information, go here letsbuyamountain.com.

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