Parks Agency Says Deal Will Block Landfill : Mandeville Canyon: A county sanitation official denies that the acquisition of 1,500 acres of land would stymie plans for a dump.
The head of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy said Wednesday that his agency has negotiated a deal that will give it eventual ownership of 1,500 acres around Mandeville Canyon south of Encino, effectively checkmating efforts to build a garbage dump in three nearby canyons.
However, a Los Angeles County landfill official and the landowner said it is by no means clear that the conservancy can carry off its plan to prevent establishment of a dump in Mission, Rustic and Sullivan canyons.
Joseph T. Edmiston, executive director of the conservancy, a state agency that buys land for parks, said the agency has made a deal to buy trust deeds held by two creditors of bankrupt Eastport Associates, which owns 1,518 acres that form a rough horseshoe around upper Mandeville Canyon.
When the purchase is concluded, the conservancy plans to foreclose on Eastport and take over the land. The deeds will cost $10 million to $12 million, Edmiston said.
The gambit is the latest in the agency’s long effort to acquire the Mandeville property for parkland. Eastport Associates has struggled unsuccessfully for years to build up to 500 homes in the area.
Last year, Los Angeles County sanitation officials issued a draft environmental impact report that identified Mission, Rustic and Sullivan canyons, which parallel one another, as a possible site for a new county garbage dump.
Edmiston said acquisition by the conservancy of the Mandeville land would effectively block construction of a road to Mission, Rustic and Sullivan canyons, eliminating them as a dump site.
But Grace Chan, a supervising engineer for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, said a road could be built to the three canyons from another direction, although she declined to describe the possible route.
Edmiston said the only other possible access to the canyons would involve extending Reseda Boulevard to the south. But that is unlikely, he said, because of pending legislation sponsored by state Assemblyman Terry B. Friedman (D-Los Angeles) to block such an extension of the street.
Edmiston said he plans to sign agreements next week with Tucker Land Co. and Getty Financial to buy their trust deeds, which are secured by the property. He said Eastport owes $21.5 million on the notes. Officials of Getty and Tucker could not be reached for comment.
But Eastport spokesman Don Albrecht said Tucker may lose its legal hold on the land, depending on the outcome of a lawsuit between the company and Eastport.
Albrecht said Eastport sued Tucker in a dispute over repayment of the loan in 1987. Under California law, he said, Tucker could lose the security for the note--the 1,500 acres--if Eastport wins the suit, which he expects to go to trial later this year.
Albrecht said Edmiston “can’t foreclose on a deed of trust that doesn’t exist. . . . Whatever Tucker ends up with in the lawsuit is what Edmiston ends up with” if he buys the note.
But Edmiston said the suit’s outcome will determine only if Tucker must pay monetary damages to Eastport, and has no bearing on the note.
In addition to its plans for Mandeville, the agency has decided to try to buy more than 600 acres in upper Topanga Canyon, where residents have been fighting for years to block a proposed development featuring a country club, hotel, equestrian center and 97 homes.
Edmiston said that the firm that owns the land, Montevideo Country Club Inc., recently underwent a change of officers and that the new general partner, Sharon Lund, may be more amenable to selling.
Ronald E. Gother, Lund’s lawyer, said she is trying to sell or develop the property, but has not yet discussed a possible sale to the conservancy. Gother questioned where the conservancy would get enough money to make “the kind of offer that will approach the real value of the property.”
Edmiston said that the owners previously offered to sell the land to the conservancy for $40 million but that he expects it can be acquired for far less. He said funds to buy it are expected to come from a statewide park bond issue proposed for the June, 1992, ballot.
The Montevideo developer has been trying for 13 years to build the project in the scenic Summit Valley section of Topanga Canyon. Residents have vociferously opposed the project, saying it will destroy scenic ridgelines, wipe out an oak forest and cause other environmental harm.
The project appeared dead last April when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to deny building permits. But supervisors later reversed themselves, sending the project to the Regional Planning Commission for additional hearings.