Red Car right of way, Silver Lake. Photo by Diane Edwardson
The City Council today is scheduled to review a proposal to explore purchasing and preserving as open space a 1o-acre strip of land where Red Car trolleys once traveled through Silver Lake. But a neighborhood activist and officials warn that a deal to buy the land is still in the very early stages and funds still need to be found to buy the former trolley line right-of-way that cuts its way behind homes and apartments in the northeast corner of Silver Lake.
“Somethings are starting to come together,” said Becky Nielsen with The Trust for Public Land, a group devoted to preserving open space. But “its going to take a lot of time.”
Diane Edwardson, whose Corralitas Red Car Property blog is named after the trolley path, and other residents have been working for more than 20 years to have the Red Car property purchased and preserved as a park or greenbelt . While the land is privately owned, the property is a popular trail used by residents and serves as an expanded back yard for many nearby property owners.
Interest in the Red Car property, which is located in the hills near the 2 and 5 freeway interchanges, was renewed this summer when the owner put the ribbon of property up for sale for an undisclosed price as proposed development site.
The motion introduced by Councilman and Silver Lake resident Eric Garcetti recommends that the city team up with the Trust for Public Land and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to “explore the possibility of buying the property and preserving it as a city park.” The motion instructs the city’s Recreation and Parks Department and other city offices to “report with funding options” to acquire the land.
But the motion does not say when the report must be completed or what funds are available to buy and manage the land. In addition, Edwardson said she was surprised to discover that Recreation and Parks was being instructed to explore purchasing the land. The agency in the past had resisted buying the Red Car property as parkland since its hilly location and narrow shape – it is about 100 feet wide in most locations – would make it difficult to build and maintain ball fields and other recreation areas, Edwardson said.
Nielsen, a project manager with the Trust for Public Land, said her group is negotiating a deal with the property owner to allow enough time to appraise and research the property as well as find money to buy it. Given the city’s financial constraints, funds to buy the property might come from other sources, including grants. Bryant Brislin with the Hoffman Co., a land broker representing the seller, said the property has not been sold.
Despite the many challenges, Nielsen said there are many factors at work in favor of preserving the land for public use.
“Everybody is talking about it. There is support out there. The seller is willing to talk to us. Although it is preliminary… things are starting to become aligned.”