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UCLA's plans to sell Japenese garden stirs un-Zen-like uproar

January 22, 2012 | 11:22 am

Uclagarden
For nearly half a century, the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel-Air has served as a serene stopover for visitors from locations as varied as Newhall, Nashville and the Netherlands.

But a decision by UCLA to sell the steep hillside property and an adjoining house to raise money for endowments has the garden world in an un-Zen-like uproar.

The Garden Conservancy, an organization based in New York and San Francisco, has lambasted the university's transfer to the Fowler Museum of a five-tiered stone pagoda and other garden objects and has urged the public to contact UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

"We've been asking the university to slow down and think about a relationship with the community that would keep the garden open," said Antonia Adezio, Garden Conservancy president.

UCLA's Brad Erickson, executive director of campus service enterprises, said the university, facing steep budget cuts, deliberated at length before determining to sell what it called surplus properties that served no academic or research purpose. He said officials conferred with neighbors and experts in Japanese culture before making the "difficult decision."

In November, the university announced plans to sell the two acres containing the Georgian Colonial house on Siena Way and the garden on Bellagio Road. The properties, north of Sunset Boulevard, are near the Hotel Bel-Air about a mile from campus. Erickson expects the properties to generate about $15 million.

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-- Martha Groves

Photo: Koi fish swim in the main pool of the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel-Air. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times.

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