The elusive deeds to the Madrona Marsh have slipped from the grasp of the City Council again.
For nearly two years the city has been trying to get deeds to nearly 43 acres of wetlands, one of the last remaining stops in the area for migrating birds and other wildlife.
Torrance Investment Co. agreed in August, 1983, to give 34.4 acres and sell another 8.5 acres to the city for preservation of the marsh in exchange for city approval to develop the remainder of a 182-acre site on Sepulveda Boulevard and Madrona Avenue for a residential-commercial project called Park Del Amo.
City Atty. Stanley Remelmeyer was prepared Tuesday night to recommend approval of the deeds to the 34.4 acres and an agreement outlining conditions for the city maintaining the property. But Remelmeyer asked that approval be delayed a week after a typing error was discovered and that opened the way for criticism of the deeds by council members and the Friends of Mardona Marsh, a community environmental group that had negotiated with developers for preservation of the marsh.
The primary opposition to the deeds is a clause that allows the Torrance Investment Co. and Santa Fe Land Improvement Co. rights to buy back for $100 the dedicated 34.4 acres of the marsh within 50 years if the land is used for purposes other than for a wildlife habitat or if it is used for revenue-producing purposes.
Remelmeyer and City Manager LeRoy Jackson tried in vain to assure the council members and environmentalists that the city was adequately protected.
"There are so many loopholes you could march the USC band through them," said Sam Suitt, past president of the Friends of Madrona Marsh.
The deeds will be brought back to the council in three weeks for another attempt at approval. The title to 8.5 acres of the marsh purchased by the city for $1.5 million was obtained May 31.
There have been as many as six different sets of deeds discussed and exchanged since the project was approved in 1983. The latest deeds had been a compromise reached between city staff and the developer.