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Glendale could purchase property near Crescenta Valley Park

Part of the 40-acre Mountain Oaks site is on the City Council radar.

August 15, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • A 13-acre plot of ground near Crescenta Valley Park that in 2006 was the proposed site of an Armenian high school and condominium project apparently has caught the interest of Glendale City Council.
A 13-acre plot of ground near Crescenta Valley Park that…

A plot of ground that in 2006 was the proposed site of an Armenian high school and condominium project has caught the interest of the City Council. In a closed-door meeting this week, council members discussed purchasing the land, which is near Crescenta Valley Park.

Since the high school / condo plan fell through, the area, which is part of a larger 40-acre site known as Mountain Oaks, has sat vacant and previous city plans to snap up the land to preserve open space have lingered.

City officials would not comment on their discussions about the site. While the founder of the Newport Beach investment firm that now owns the land also didn't share details about the meeting, she said she was eager to unload the land.

"I want to get done with it," said Rita Carp, owner of Surfside Funding Corp. "If it's not going to be the city, it's going to be somebody else."

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But it's been more than five years, and Surfside hasn't been able to sell the property. Surfside took it over to recoup a failed loan it had made to the developer behind the aborted high school project.

In addition to expansive views of Crescenta Valley, the site offers access to Verdugo Mountain trails. Between the 1930s and 1960s, Mountain Oaks was home to a picnic and recreation site.

Despite the attractive location, the property was illegally subdivided and many of its lots are not up to city code. And it's been fiercely protected from development by a group of residents who have long lobbied to preserve it as open space.

Though council members tried to buy the land about five years ago, the plan fizzled due to tight finances. Glendale's financial situation subsequently worsened and it was only this year that the city finally unburdened itself of multi-million dollar budget gaps.

According to the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office, the portion of the land the city is interested in is valued at roughly $1.2 million.

Meanwhile, a consortium of state and local park agencies known as the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority has expressed interest in buying the separate hillside portion of Mountain Oaks.

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