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Los Angeles hikers and bikers mobilize to save a popular trail

April 24, 2011 |  9:53 pm

Franklin canyon
For at least half a century, Angelenos have hiked and biked up the Hastain Trail, a wide path that winds through oak trees and wildflowers in Franklin Canyon to a promontory overlooking the city and the ocean. Today, three chain link fences are erected along the path with signs warning against trespass.

It turns out that 45 acres along the trail are private property -- not publicly owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The entrance to the trail, through Conservancy land, lies off Mulholland Drive between Beverly Hills and Studio City.

Now developer Mohamed Hadid, who has built more than a dozen Ritz-Carlton hotels and many Beverly Hills mansions, plans to construct six or seven homes on the ridgeline.The move comes as public outcry is growing over mega-mansions that encroach on Los Angeles' dwindling open space.

Opponents are urging the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and the city of Los Angeles to buy the land -- or prevent Hadid from developing the parcel, which is part of 97 acres he owns next to Franklin Canyon Park. They are raising funds to support a lawsuit through the website, and arguing that public use over years should at least guarantee an easement.

Paul Edelman, deputy director of Natural Resources and Planning for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, said the authority would only be able to pay $3.8 million -- the reportedly appraised value of the portion of Hadid's land that is bisected by the trail -- and that Hadid's asking price is "meteoric."

However, Hadid said he has been offered $15 million for 40 acres of his land by a private buyer. He suggested the conservancy pay the $3.8 million that is reportedly the appraised value of the property adjacent to the trail, and that he would help raise additional funds.

Read more about Franklin Canyon's Hastain Trail controversy

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-- Ann M. Simmons

Photo: A fence at the edge of developer Mohamed Hadid's property is covered with signs. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times