A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered a couple not to pave a dirt road, which passes through Malibu Creek State Park en route to their house, before the end of the month--a small victory for state parks officials who want the road to remain as it is.
Judge Stephen O'Neil's order is the first step toward preventing property owners Tom and Pat Randa from making any improvements to the mile-long road until a judge can settle a long-running dispute between them and state parks officials.
The Randas contend they are entitled to pave the road, which is the only access to their house and five-acre lot, because they have an easement, or right to pass. But state parks officials and the Randas' neighbors in Malibu Lake want the road, which is popular with hikers and equestrians, to stay unimproved.
The state Department of Parks and Recreation has asked a judge to settle the matter and requested that the Randas stop work on the road until then. The Randas refused, calling the request a delaying tactic.
Meanwhile, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy voted this week to arrange a deal in which the Randas and several other property owners would be bought out in a complicated land exchange with a Santa Monica developer.
Tom Randa has threatened that unless the conservancy came up with his $1.65-million asking price by today, he would pave the road. Conservancy officials could not be reached for comment and it was unclear what effect Thursday's order would have on negotiations to obtain the Randas' property.
The Randas could not be reached for comment.
Thursday's order is effective until May 28, when a judge will decide whether to continue the ban on paving until the dispute goes to trial, which could take as long as two years.