Developers and Hikers Settle Access Dispute

Times Staff Writer

A long fight over multimillion-dollar homes blocking access to hiking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains was resolved with a compromise Tuesday.

Under a deal approved by the Los Angeles City Council's planning committee, developer Castle & Cooke has agreed to build a trail around its new Stoney Hill neighborhood, according to city officials.

In exchange, several organizations, including the Center for the Law in the Public Interest and a hikers' group, will drop the lawsuit they filed seeking access to the trail.

Resolving a related fight, the developer also agreed to move another trail outside another development planned for the area.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who helped to negotiate the deal along with former Mayor Richard Riordan, called it "a major moment." He said the fight had been going on for seven years.

As homes went up in the mountains, homeowners objected to long-standing but unofficial trails on privately held land and sometimes blocked access.

Robert Garcia, a lawyer with the Center for the Law in the Public Interest, released a letter in support of the plan.

The Canyon Back Alliance, another party in the lawsuit, issued an e-mail saying that the deal went "far beyond our expectations."

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