L.A.’s largest municipal park just got a bit larger

The Bat Signal For Land Conversation

L.A.’s largest municipal park just got a bit larger

A view of the Hollywood Sign from Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park. (Clinton Steeds/Flickr)

In a move that has likely staved off future residential development abutting Griffith Park in Los Angeles, the nonprofit advocacy group Friends of Griffith Park, joined by community organizations and private donors, have secured two undeveloped hillside lots at the southern edge of the park. The two properties will together add an additional 1.25 acres to the sprawling urban park’s impressive 4,300-acre footprint and were purchased in a half-million-dollar sale that closed in escrow earlier this month. The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, a public agency, will hold the newly acquired parkland in perpetuity.

Gerry Hans, Friends of Griffith Park president, described the move to LAist as “… a de-facto extension of Griffith Park’s borders.”

Located off of Canyon Drive, the site, studded with city-protected sycamore and coast live oaks, serves as the habitat for a variety of animals. And because this is L.A., real estate acquisitions in the Hollywood Hills must come complete with a bit of showbiz history, even if just adjacent. The lots in question are directly south of Bronson Canyon, or Bronson Caves, a rugged yet popular section of the park that’s home to the (exterior) lair of a superhero featured in a kitschy live-action 1960s television series; the so-called Batcave is actually a manmade tunnel leftover from an old quarry at the site. As mentioned by the Los Angeles Timesthe Batman associations helped spur fundraising.

As detailed by Friends of Griffith Park, the opportunity to buy and conserve the two park-adjacent lots came with a sense of urgency. Both first came on the market last year for a combined $850,00—a sizable drop from the original asking price of $1.15 million. One developer struck a deal but the sale fell out of escrow earlier this year shortly after the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. In late April, Friends of Griffith Park was offered a reduced price of $500,000 by the seller—“as this is a tough real estate market right now” explained the group—but with a caveat in the form of an abbreviated, 21-day escrow. From there a scramble to raise money to purchase the land commenced. The Canyon Drive Fund campaign, although hurried, was obviously a successful one. The final $35,000 needed to meet the goal was reached on April 30th. Additional funds were then raised for annual maintenance.

“When this pandemic is over, Los Angeles will have an even bigger and better Griffith Park to return to,” said L.A. City Councilman David Ryu, whose office contributed to the fundraising campaign, in a statement shared by the Times.