By Charles Cooper

Photo by Mary O’Keefe

The city of Glendale is apparently approaching the point when some legal decisions can be reached on the future of Mountain Oaks, a 40-acre open space parcel in La Crescenta.

Those decisions could include the possible use of eminent domain by the city, according to attorney and Mayor Ara Najarian.

The mayor did not specify when the city might move to acquire the property through legal proceedings, a possibility not mentioned before by city officials.

City Atty. Scott Howard said he will present a legal opinion to the city within the next two weeks on the status of the property and city options. “It probably should have been done 30 years ago,” he said.

The property, which adjoins Crescenta Valley Park, has been the object of community concerns since plans were announced to develop 15 acres of it into a school and condominium development. The land was purchased by a Canadian company, M. Jorjezian Investments Inc.

A group known as Friends of Mountain Oaks, led by local resident Dave Meyers, has been campaigning to have the city buy the land for open space. Council members signaled a willingness to do just that, but a lot of details remain that need to be worked out.

City Manager James Starbird said the city has not been able to discover the sale price of the property, if it in fact has been sold and is not in escrow. Based on past experience, Starbird said, he is estimating the cost at $30,000 to $50,000 an acre to the city.

Most of the property is hillside land and is un-developable, but a flat portion known as the Meadows could be built on. No one seemed sure how much land that entails; various figures were tossed out, from 3.5 to 9 acres.

The major reason the property remains undeveloped is that an illegal subdivision took place many years ago, as a marketing stunt, creating hundreds of unbuildable paper lots.

Howard said the council could rezone the property by a 4/5 vote, but his office is still researching the legal impact of the earlier subdivision.

Glendale has been looking at ways to finance open space purchase, including development fees and assessment districts. The property could be used for park purposes, as a trail head to the Verdugo Mountains and for equestrian uses.

Crescenta Valley Sun: