Montecito Heights hilltop to become parkland

Map of parkland purchase | Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority

MONTECITO HEIGHTS –  A large parcel of  undeveloped hillside will become public parkland instead of a private housing project after government officials pledged $1.4 million to buy the the hill known as Flat Top.

The purchase of about 37 acres is expected to be completed next month, said Megan Moret, press deputy for County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who agreed to use her office’s allocation of Prop A funds to finance the deal. The funds will allow North East Trees, an environmental group,  to purchase the property but the City of Los Angeles will eventually take control of the property, Moret said.

The $1.4 million, which will be granted to Northeast Trees through the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority,  will not cover the costs of turning the property into parkland or funding its upkeep. It also does not include acquisition of seven acres that includes cell phone and radio towers.

The purchase of the Flat Top, which is owned by The Foursquare Church of Echo Park, is a big victory for residents and community groups that had opposed its commercial development. The church in 2012 notified neighbors that it was preparing to develop Flat Top,  a popular neighborhood gathering spot and view point. A development consultant working with the church unveiled plans for about three dozen homes on new streets that would loop around existing transmission towers. That proposal generated heated opposition from nearby residents, many of whom consider the privately-owned land a shared space.

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