Judge Refuses to Stop Payment by Parks Agency to Developer

A judge denied an environmental group's request Thursday to stop a state parks agency from making a $10-million payment to developers of the proposed Ahmanson Ranch housing project in eastern Ventura County.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen O'Neil refused to issue a temporary restraining order against the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy after hearing arguments by the attorney for the environmental group Save Open Space.

Attorney Rosemary Woodlock argued that the conservancy has no authority to transfer public funds to Potomac Investment Associates because the parkland the state wants to acquire is tied to the development project, which has not been approved by Ventura County supervisors.

But O'Neil ruled that the $10-million purchase agreement between the conservancy and the developer had no apparent connection to the proposed 2,600-house development. He said he believed the payment was for the acquisition of a specific piece of property.

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