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'Save the Peak' campaign gets good response, new fundraising numbers to be released this week

Hollywood sign coverup completed

It’s too early to say if the novel fundraising campaign to save the privately owned land next to the Hollywood sign known as Cahuenga Peak has been a success.

Last week, preservationists covered over the Hollywood sign with a banner reading “Save the Peak” to help raise public awareness and the $11.7 million needed to buy the 138-acre tract and prevent its development.

Tim Ahern, spokesman for the San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land that is seeking to purchase the land, said that new fundraising numbers would be released Tuesday.  So far, the nonprofit said it has raised more than half of the money needed and has until April 14 to come up with the rest. 

“We’ve gotten enormous response,” Ahern said. “We need everybody right now.”

City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents the area around the peak, called the trust after private owners of the land announced plans to develop it for luxury housing.

"We've all got to pitch in," LaBonge said last week. "I was as surprised as anybody to find out we didn't already own that parcel."

If the trust is unable to purchase the peak and give it to the city, the acreage will go back on the market. Real estate agents for Fox River have speculated that wealthy overseas buyers eager to take advantage of the soft U.S. dollar -- perhaps from China or the United Arab Emirates -- might snap up the peak.

The “Save the Peak” sign is scheduled to come down Tuesday.
 
Those interested in learning more about the effort can visit www.savehollywoodland.org.

--Amina Khan

Photo: KTLA

 
Comments () | Archives (1)

It's funny how no one reports the audacious profit the current investment group Fox River Financial Resources is trying to gain from the sale of the Cahuenga Peak property to the City of Los Angeles. Fox River Financial Resources purchased the land from the Howard Hughes estate in 2002 for under $3 million in the middle of the housing bubble. Fox River then set false values of $40 Million with no improvements to the property (just a brilliant fact finding effort to dig up some old paperwork when Howard Hughes sued for the rights to build). Not generating any interest, Fox River Financial Resources then lowered the value to $22 Million (It was on the market for over a year with no takers), and now $12.5 Million.
The land is still ridiculously over valued and The Trust For Public Land has done some intricate work to raise a little over 60% of the deal price, but much of that comes from bond money and city budgets that should be used for better purposes (Their online campaign has only generated less that 10% of its online contribution goal halfway through the campaign $45,000 of $500,000 requested). The city and state are already reeling from massive debt and deficits, yet, TPL is continually pursuing this piece of land that would be difficult if next to impossible to develop. Is it better to buy an overvalued piece of property or fund our schools and cities?
Yet the vicious circle of greedy land speculators continues. It is a common practice for big money in real estate to knowingly buy property next to conservation areas and monuments and threaten to develop the land in order to make deals like these with conservation groups (Think back to the classic National Lampoon cover "If you don't buy this magazine, we will kill this dog").
For this is big money generator in getting a transaction to go through. By the government using the TPL as an intermediary, they can avoid most of the transparency that should occur in these types of transactions. The TPL has used a magnificent campaign of covering the Hollywood Sign with a "Save the Peak" banner to misrepresent what is at stake. Cahuenga Peak is to the west of the sign, the property in question is along the summit and behind the sign. From Hollywood, hardly any of this property is visible. The sign is perched on Mt. Lee, it is already a part of Griffith Park. But if you go to the campaign's Facebook fan site or watch the scrolling feeds on the campaigns web site, 75% of the people believe that the Hollywood sign is going to be torn down if the land is developed. Casual activists are not doing their homework.
TPL commonly has to deal with shady character. Look at some of the transactions that took place a few years ago where Bryan A. Simmons, another land speculator made millions tying together a patchwork of Malibu properties under various corporate entities to fly under the radar of legislation, He then provided a similar option and worked with the TPL to sell the properties to the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy. Mr Simmons made millions of dollars in profit from taxpayers and then became a high level contributor back to the TPL (Good Night everyone, you were wonderful! Remember to tip your hostess). In all, its a dirty business when you look at how it all comes together, especially since the majority of funds will come from taxpayers and struggling bohemians, who donate to a cause that is only lining the pockets of the Fox River Financial investors and to extent, the TPL (Their CEO made over $330,000 in salary last year).
I believe in the end, we will see the TPL fail to raise the $12.5 million price tag, but will negotiate a lower price (Probably $9M) and Fox River Financial will get off with a huge tax break for their "Donation" (i.e. they will only pay taxes on $1-3 million of their 6 million profit). It's a brilliant conspiracy that is worthy of a Hollywood movie.


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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