Reports that the owner of Fryman Canyon in Studio City has financial problems prompted officials of a state parks agency that has been involved in bitter negotiations to buy the canyon to suggest Wednesday that the state and the city of Los Angeles lower their bid for the land.
“I think we can get it even cheaper at a foreclosure sale,” said Bob Horner, a member of the board of directors of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The conservancy and city officials have been trying for months to buy the 63-acre canyon to turn it into parkland to prevent construction of houses there.
Horner commented after disclosure that the owner of the canyon, Fred Sahadi, is in default on a $750,000 loan secured by the property.
But Sahadi’s attorney, Benjamin M. Reznik, said that his client is not in financial trouble and that the conservancy should forget about trying to “squeeze” Sahadi into negotiating a new purchase price. “They are playing with dynamite--they’ll lose this property,” Reznik said.
Reznik said his client was expecting to use the proceeds from the sale of the land to the conservancy to pay off the mortgage.
The city and conservancy have recently offered to pay Sahadi about $10 million for the canyon. The last state-authorized appraisal of the property set its value at $8.75 million. The major elements of the deal were approved by the conservancy last week and by the City Council on Tuesday.
But the $1 million-plus discrepancy between the negotiated purchase price and the appraisal has been a source of continuing unhappiness for some conservancy officials, especially Joseph T. Edmiston, the agency’s executive director.
Julie Zeidner, spokeswoman for the conservancy, said the report of the default was good news. “If Mr. Sahadi’s in a desperate financial situation, it’ll improve our negotiating power,” Zeidner said.
According to public records, Sahadi is in default on the $575,064.37 balance of a $750,000 loan received in June, 1988, from Homefed Bank, Federal Savings Bank in San Diego.
Mayor Tom Bradley’s office did not respond to inquiries about the default. Bradley’s office and that of Councilman Michael Woo have been deeply involved in negotiating the deal to buy the canyon. That deal would include a $6.7-million payment by the conservancy to Sahadi and the city’s transfer to Sahadi of four parcels of city-owned land.