City moves forward to take over Flat Top hill

Flat Top hill | Martha Benedict

City officials have approved taking ownership of more than 36 acres of undeveloped land on the border of Lincoln Heights and Montecito Heights and spending $225,000 to maintain the property as open space.

City ownership of the property known as Flat Top will help resolve many of the complaints that arose after neighborhood activists were successful in blocking a proposed housing development and preserving the hill as public open space. Community leaders complained that Northeast Trees, an environmental group that had taken temporary ownership of the property, was failing to deal with vandalism and maintenance problems. Northeast Trees, for its part, said that the property was becoming a financial burden and turning it over to the city had proven more complicated and time consuming than expected.

The city will get the land for free but will have to pay for upkeep and future improvements. (Seven acres of Flat Top that includes cell phone and radio towers will remain privately owned.)

Last week, the city’s Recreation and Parks commission voted to accept ownership of Flat Top after the City Council voted in favor of Councilman Gil Cedillo’s motion to transfer $225,000 to cover two years of maintenance. The sale of the land still has to be finalized.

So, what happens to Flat Top now?

The property with sweeping views of the city will remain open space. But, according to a Recreation and Parks report, no plans have been developed or funds secured for any amenities, such as trails and restrooms.

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