* Your article, "L.A. Plans to Beef Up Coffers With Land Sales" (July 15), raises important public policy issues regarding the sale of surplus city property. Los Angeles owns thousands of useless parcels of land that could generate revenue instead of laying fallow and unproductive in the city's land portfolio. But the Santa Monica Mountains are not useless portfolio place-holders. They are part of a precious city resource that once lost cannot be replenished.
When lots in the Santa Monicas are sold, they are graded, denuded and built upon. The natural environment is lost, ridges are eliminated and wildlife seeks refuge farther from the city. This process cannot be reversed; it is permanent.
The mountains, like the coast, are a resource for all our city's residents and millions of visitors. They provide open space and a natural environment that are desperately needed in the huge urban metropolis of Los Angeles. Unlike many of the lots proposed for sale, parcels in the Santa Monica Mountains are an asset that we cannot afford to lose--we have so little left as it is.
We can and should sell much of the city's inventory of surplus land. As we do so, however, let's be mindful of the legacy we are leaving for our children.
Councilman, Fifth District
* Every 20 years or so, city budgeteers discover a hidden cache of "valuable surplus land" without realizing that it consists mostly of land forfeited because it was not worth the taxes levied upon it. Included are lots in the Santa Monica Mountains that were originally parts of various real estate promotions in the early part of the century intended as sites for weekend cabins for city dwellers. Some were actually given away free with magazine subscriptions.
The city should be exceedingly careful in offering lots for sale to developers who, most certainly, would demand exceptions from development, environmental and infrastructure standards.
MAX W. STRAUSS