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ACCESS FOR ALL TO HISTORIC MILLARD CANYON

NEWSLETTER WINTER 2005

Millard Canyon

The City Project and others are leading the struggle to keep historic Millard Canyon and Altadena Crest trails open for all by stopping property owners in a gated community who are trying to close off public trails.

Millard Canyon begins at Mt. Lowe in the Angeles National Forest and ends at the Arroyo Seco in Altadena, with a stream and trails running down the Canyon to the Arroyo Seco and the Los Angeles River.

In the 1820s, Millard Canyon was known as Church Cayon. Joseph Chapman used Native American labor to harvest and mill timber from the upper canyon to build La Placita Catholic Church at the Plaza in the original Pueblo de Los Angeles, the birthplace of the city. La Placita (also known as Our Lady of Angels Church) was the first church built in Los Angeles and is now part of El Pueblo Historic Monument.

When Los Angeles County approved La Viña housing development in Altadena in the 1990s, the local community had substantial concerns that this exclusive gated community would threaten the public’s right to use Millard Canyon for hiking and horse back riding. The County required, and the developers promised, to protect public access to historic Millard Canyon.

County Supervisor Mike Antonovich told the Los Angeles Times, “In approving the La Vina projects, I made a commitment — with unanimous board support — to the Altadena community that trails would be provided. . .this was mandated in the specific plan, the tract map and conditional-use permit.”

La Vina Homeowners Association has posted “No Trespassing” signs and has harassed hikers and equestrians to keep them out of Millard Canyon. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The appearance of those signs was the final straw for people who felt their rights to Millard Canyon’s natural riches — trails, vistas, forests, and wildlife — were secured under the agreement.”

The City Project and the law firm of Reed Smith are preparing to sue the La Vina Homeowners Association and the County.

Los Angeles County is also planning to file a lawsuit against the homeowners. It is necessary to preserve access for all to the rich historic, cultural, and recreational benefits of historic Millard Canyon. The effort to preserve access to historic Millard Canyon has been covered by the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.