Major Horace Bell wrote what is believed to be the first book about Los Angeles that was also published in Los Angeles. “Reminiscences of a Ranger” are his memoirs of Los Angeles from 1840 to 1870. In that 3-volume book he recounts his first climb, made with fellow Ranger Andres Pico, to the summit of Cahuenga Peak. “Owing to the density of the chaparral the ascent was terribly difficult,” he wrote. “After hours of scrambling, we not only surmounted the ridge, but in safety stood on the summit of the Cahuenga range and gazed on the magnificent San Fernando Valley below, in all its beauty, like a great green carpet spread out before us, and the Valley of the Angels, and the Pacific Ocean to our rear.”
The Cahuenga Peak that Bell described remains today – just as it was when he and Pico stood and gazed at the small lake below, the meandering Los Angeles River and the rich green valley that spread before them. But this historic place is now in great danger. The Chicago development syndicate that owns the land wants to crown Cahuenga Peak with luxury mansions.
It’s not just about beautiful views
The Cahuenga ridge and Peak are not just a beautiful and native vista for Toluca Lake and the San Fernando Valley. The Cahuenga ridge is part of a crucial migratory trail for the native animals of Griffith Park. With the exception of the extinct grizzly bear, all other species native to Griffith Park are believed to remain today, including the big cats. To survive these species require a migratory corridor that connects Griffith Park with the Santa Monica Mountains coastal range. That migration corridor includes Cahuenga ridge. Biologists believe that if the corridor is blocked it could take just a handful of generations before the native species of Griffith Park would begin to suffer from inbreeding and eventually die out. It is imperative to protect the Cahuenga ridge in order to protect the diversity and health of the Park’s genetic pool.
Time is running out
The days are ticking away and hopes for the city buying the Peak are in danger of slipping through our fingers. Just a few days remain to raise the final dollars needed to buy and protect Cahuenga Peak. An option to buy the Peak has been negotiated with the property owner, but that agreement ends on April 14th and so far only $9 million of the needed $12 million has been secured. There’s still time to accomplish the goal, but financial support – both large and small – is still desperately needed. If you can help, please contact Alice Roth, acting District Director for Councilman Tom LaBonge, at 818-755-7894. You can also contact the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce at 818-769-0101 and we will get your contact information to the right person.
Chair, Government Affairs and
Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce