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New Year May Echo the Thunder of the Old : DEVELOPMENT

As the battle between the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Soka University enters its third year, both sides are hunkering down in 1995 for what may be the most difficult phase yet in the protracted fight for the school’s scenic Calabasas campus.

Last month, the conservancy won a critical victory when a judge ruled that it has the right to seize 245 of Soka’s 662 acres through eminent domain for use as a visitors’ center for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Soka must now decide within the next few days how to proceed in the case. It can appeal the judge’s decision or take its case before a jury, which would decide how much the school should be compensated for its land.

By going to a jury, Soka would be betting that the ultimate price would be too expensive for the conservancy, which would have to produce the money within 30 days of the jury’s decision.

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“Basically, we’d be calling the conservancy’s bluff,” Soka spokesman Jeff Ourvan said.

Right now, the conservancy is prepared to pay roughly $20 million for the property.

In the city of Los Angeles, meanwhile, urban planners are putting the finishing touches on an ambitious long-term plan to guide development. A rough draft of the General Plan Framework is scheduled to be released Jan. 19.

The General Plan essentially acts as the city’s land-use “constitution,” a document that directs growth over the next two decades. It establishes the guidelines for everything from where new homes and shops are built to how residents get from place to place.

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Public hearings on the plan will begin in February. The Los Angeles City Planning Commission will consider the plan in April before sending it on to the City Council.


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