Canyon Back Alliance was formed to support unobstructed public access to beautiful mountain and other fragile habitat areas that our organization believes must be open to the public in carefully-placed trails that are sensitive to the needs of wildlife and recreational trail-users.
In 2006 we won a phenomenal victory for public access and open space in what is known as The Big Wild – land with a connection to the Backbone Trail. We won this victory through a legal settlement (link here for Castle & Cooke settlement)– achieving protection of 424 acres of Open Space, much of it Coastal Sage & Chaparral habitat, as well as 2 historic trails that connect to the Kenter Canyonback Trail Loop.
In 2016 a wealthy financier informed the public that he had bought the land we worked to protect, ignoring the easements and requirements as part of agreements made with the community. He envisioned a massive development for his Berggruen Institute – including 3 conference centers, a residence for himself, helicopter pads and a scholars’ village of 13 residential units.
In January, 2018, a forum was convened and organized by Canyon Back Alliance, Brentwood Residents Coalition, Protect Our Wildlands Environment & Resources (POWER) and others at the Skirball Center. More than 500 people showed up on a Sunday morning. Included in those present were Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin, CA Senator Bob Hertzberg and representatives from the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Immediately after this forum Berggruen recorded a tract map – and while he has been cautious about details – it is clearly still a massive project adjacent to trails and open space. Now Berggruen has returned with a 3rd proposal, falsely taking credit for the Canyon Back Alliance VICTORY that we made happen long before his institute was on the scene.
Berggruen falsely claims he will save open space and trails already held in trust by the State of California for the public – due to the Canyon Back Alliance legal victory. Besides the fact that this Open Space and historic trail system is in the heart of his proposed project site, given recent fires (including the Getty Fire), and the methane mitigation areas due to historical use in the area as landfills, this beautiful area is simply the wrong place for Mr. Berggruen to fulfill his dreams, no matter how worthy they might be.
Mr. Berggruen and his Berggruen Institute may have merits – there are questions about his ideas of altering democratic forms of government to include those who’ve retired from public service and who are no longer accountable to the voting public – but those questions are not where we are focused at the moment.
We are concerned about the Institute’s decision to build in a high-risk fire zone and in Open Space where our long-fought-for trails and Open Space are located.
They were required to have 140 mitigation measures, required prior to recording the tract map. We do not believe these measures have been approved.