Manhattan Beach : Santa Fe Pact Approved

The City Council this week formally approved an agreement with Santa Fe Railway that adds 21.2 acres of open space to the city's park system in exchange for $10 million in cash, real estate and development rights.

The council's action ends years of public debate and negotiation for the 23.3-acre right of way, which crosses the city from Rosecrans Avenue south to the Hermosa Beach boundary.

The council delayed a decision, however, on how the city will finance its cash payment to Santa Fe until after the April election, when new City Council members will take office. Two incumbents, Councilmen Russell Lesser and Jim Walker, are not seeking reelection.

The council voted 4 to 1 to rezone the city's portion of the right of way from unclassified to open space recreation, and a 2.1-acre parcel to be developed by Santa Fe from unclassified to commercial planned development.

A second resolution, also passed 4 to 1, declares the council's intent to dedicate its portion of the right of way as park land when it receives the property title.

The actual development agreement between the city and Santa Fe for the 2.1-acre parcel east of Sepulveda Boulevard was adopted on a 3-2 vote. Mayor Gil Archuletta opposed all the measures, expressing dissatisfaction with the terms of the settlement.

Walker cast the other dissenting vote against the development agreement, arguing that previous proposals that called for an exchange of park lands for commercial development rights--without a cash payment--were preferable to the proposed agreement.

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