Canyon Oaks Project Would Benefit Topanga

* We were dismayed by the recent turn of events at the March 10 hearing before the County Board of Supervisors on the Canyon Oaks project.

Joseph T. Edmiston, executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, is playing fast and loose with public funds when he injects himself into a political dispute by proposing use of public money to bail out the Topanga Assn. for a Scenic Community and the Topanga Town Council from a battle they could not win on merit.

The arguments weighed heavily in favor of the Canyon Oaks project. The developer's planning addressed all of the association's and the Town Council's objections and demands, based on meetings with Topanga residents. The county Planning Commission testified that all county and environmental requirements were met or exceeded.

The project has clearly been designed to benefit the whole community while adhering to the Los Angeles General Plan, the Los Angeles Hillside Guidelines and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Master Plan.

On the other side, the association and Town Council supporters put on an unruly, emotional demonstration outside the hall, then disrupted proceedings repeatedly by unseemly outbursts intended to influence and, we believe, even intimidate the board as the hearing progressed and it became obvious they were losing credibility.

Viewridge area and upper Topanga residents who will be the ones most affected by the Canyon Oaks project are overwhelmingly in favor of it.

They are especially pleased with the way it blends with the environment and complements current residential development in the ridge area. It promises to be a boon by widening the tax base, providing work and improving the local economy.

On Tuesday, the supervisors will have the final responsibility to determine what can be done with $19.9 million of public money that is proposed for the purchase of the land.

After acquiring the land, the county would have to spend more to operate and maintain it, instead of letting a private enterprise do a better job at no cost to the county.

Public funds are hard to come by. Those who voted for Proposition A represent a much wider constituency than the association and the Town Council.

The supervisors will have to answer to that larger constituency if they vote against a project offering far more benefits to the immediate community essentially free than can otherwise be bought at public expense to please a misguided minority.



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