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Settlement Likely Coming in La Vina Trail Lawsuit

A lawsuit filed over access to open space surrounding a housing development in the foothills of Altadena appears likely to end in a settlement that would put the land under control of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

A lawsuit filed over trail and open space access in the land surrounding the La Vina housing development appears likely to end in a settlement, according to Marietta Kruells, the plaintiff in the case.

The case revolves around land surrounding the La Vina development, which is located at the top of Lincoln Avenue.  In 2005, after 'no trespassing' signs were put up along a trail around the development, the county sued to restore public access.  The county prevailed in that case in 2010.

Kruells, a local resident, filed a separate lawsuit seeking to have the land managed by the La Vina development put under the care of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC), an organization created by the State Legislature in 1980 to help preserve open space in Southern California.  A similar case was filed by a group represented by local trails advocate and attorney Paul Ayers.

The settlement has not been finalized, Kruells said, but the parameters of the deal will be that the SMMC will be responsible for preserving the land around La Vina, and a will be restored and likely maintained by the county.

John A. Saurenman, of the Attorney General's office, who acted as counsel for the conservancy in the case, confirmed a settlement is being negotiated, but said he would not be able to comment until the case is complete.  Kruells described the status of the case as "pretty complete" and said she did not see changes to the deal being likely.

Ayers, who spends much of his time outdoors doing trail work in Altadena, described the settlement as a "tremendous, tremendous result."

Combined with the , the La Vina settlement would mean there is the potential for trail access from the foothills down across the settlements into the area above JPL.  

The purchased 13 acres are immediately adjacent to the area that would be controlled by SMMC, which could be a major benefit to local wildlife, according to a biologist who surveyed the area that Arroyos & Foothills is purchasing.

"The recent decision to transfer the designated open space adjacent to the site from the management of the La Vina Development Homeowners Association to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy will preserve the entire canyon bottom necessary for the continued persistence of sensitive amphibian populations," reads the report.

Steve Lamb February 10, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Its amazing, even when the County sets a mitigation as a settlement to a lawsuit involving development, as they did in this case in the first place (Forest Preservation V County of Los Angeles) someone still has to sue for a decade to get whats already been promised. Yet a individual homeowner with a building permit will do all and whatever else the County feels like. Another example of our Banana Republic government! GREAT JOB AND THANK YOU MARIETTA!!!!
Mary Barrie February 10, 2012 at 04:30 PM
We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to individuals like Marietta who worked doggedly for many years to achieve this outcome. Individuals like her are the true unsung heros of the fight to save open space. And let's not forget the pro bono attorneys who put in many, many hours on this. How about a story on them too? Mary B.
Nico February 10, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Thanks to all the activists for their hard work and passion. We and the entire community benefit from the result. This trail network, once completed will be one of the beacons of Altadena. Marietta is fabulous and so are the many others who accomplished so much. THANKS!!!
Nico February 10, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Great idea, I would love to know more about all the individuals.

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