Campus wins court ruling on Japanese garden sale, extends sale process
By Phil Hampton, May 17, 2012
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has rejected a request for a temporary restraining order to block UCLA's sale of the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden. While the May 17 ruling confirms UCLA's right to proceed with the sale of the property at 10619 Bellagio Rd. in Bel-Air, UCLA announced that it will extend the period during which prospective buyers can submit bids. "Even though we are confident that all appropriate steps have been followed and that the meritless lawsuit will be dismissed, it is important that we minimize any legal impediments before we complete the bidding and sale process," said UCLA Administrative Vice Chancellor Jack Powazek.
Sealed bids for the garden and a residence on a separate adjacent lot in Bel-Air had been due on May 22 and were scheduled to be publicly opened on May 23. Campus officials said the bidding process will be extended until Aug. 15… The basis for the judge's decision to deny the temporary restraining order was that the plaintiffs did not have a likelihood of success on the merits of the lawsuit…
Full release at
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit could appeal, presumably. Indeed, not giving a temporary restraining order doesn’t end the possibility of some later decision. That point is indirectly acknowledged in the media release above in the text about minimizing legal impediments. There is no claim in the release that no impediments remain. Note that the extension of time for bids by UCLA suggests a lack of bids and/or that the lawsuit caused potential bidders to be hesitant.
As indicated in prior blog posts on this matter, the UCLA Faculty Association does not have a position on the sale of the garden. But it has also been noted that entering into discussion with concerned groups could be a better approach than legal battles. See http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2012/05/winston-churchill-on-japanese-garden.html.
There are also concerns about the impact of a decision by the university to undo a pledge to a major donor to maintain the property in perpetuity. Perhaps the pledge should not have been made – but it was. And so far, the university has prevailed on the issue of the legality of undoing the pledge – but so what? If the university plans to rely in the future more heavily on major donations (and it does), there are reasons for caution here and a more amicable outcome so that future donors do not become concerned that their wishes ultimately will not be carried out by the university: “Throw no stones in the well that gives you water.”
Our Mothers’ Day post on this blog included a World War I song appropriate to the occasion. Here’s another such song appropriate for this matter:
Update: Below is the official Los Angeles Superior Court (Santa Monica) record. It indicates another hearing in August. Legal types may want to interpret.