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SUNLAND : $250,000 Approved for Equestrian Trail

Proponents of a new equestrian trail in Sunland have won $250,000 from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy board, and if the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors lends its approval too, the project will go forward.

On Tuesday, the conservancy board voted to fund the long-awaited Sunland Boulevard Equestrian Trail, which will parallel the boulevard for 1.3 miles from La Canada Way to Stonehurst Avenue, providing horseback riders, hikers and pedestrians with a protected path along the busy thoroughfare.

It’s “too soon to tell” whether the supervisors will vote in favor of the project, said Joel Bellman, spokesman for Supervisor Ed Edelman.

Supervisors on Sept. 21 are scheduled to discuss whether to allocate funds to purchase land and begin constructing the trail.

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Local equestrians, however, have already begun to celebrate.

“I think everyone in the community feels Sunland Boulevard needs a face lift,” said Andrea Gutman, who chairs the Trails Committee for the Shadow Hills Homeowners Assn. “And this trail will give it that face lift.”

Arline De Sanctis, chief planning deputy for City Councilman Joel Wachs, said the trail will provide safe passage for equestrians, who now sometimes ride along busy Sunland Boulevard.

“People travel at high rates of speed on that street,” De Sanctis said. “It’s extremely dangerous for equestrians. We wanted to make it safer.”

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Under the plan, the nonprofit Equestrian Trails Inc. would clear the existing right of way to the north of the boulevard and construct a 4-foot high fence separating the trail from the street.

De Sanctis added that the trail would be heavily used in the area, which she said contains the most properties approved for horse-keeping in Los Angeles.

Also citing safety, John Diaz, chief of land acquisition for the conservancy, said the trail would fulfill one of his agency’s main goals, which is making land more accessible to the public.


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