Thursday, October 1, 2015

Japanese Garden Settlement

Gov. Pat Brown, President Lyndon Johnson, Regent Edward W. Carter, and UC President Clark Kerr at dedication of UC-Irvine

The LA Times is reporting of the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden lawsuit:
UCLA said Wednesday that it has settled a long-running legal dispute over a donor's gift of a house and Japanese garden in Bel-Air. Under the agreement, UCLA will be allowed the sell the property near the Hotel Bel-Air on the condition that the new owner agree to preserve the garden for at least 30 years. Experts consider the garden, which contains streams, a waterfall, tea house and blooming magnolia and camellia trees, to be one of the finest examples in North America of a landscaping style meant to inspire Zen-like tranquility. The new owner would not be required to open the garden to the public, but both sides said they hoped a new owner would seek a conservation easement and arrange for at least limited public access. In 1964, Edward W. Carter, a former UC regent and the man who built the Broadway department store chain, and Hannah Locke Carter, his second wife, gave UCLA their Georgian Colonial house and the Japanese garden that cascaded down the hillside below. The UC regents, UCLA's governing body, promised to maintain the garden forever. Decades ago, UCLA opened the garden to visitors on a limited basis, and thousands of people explored it. In 1982, the Carters agreed that proceeds from the sale of their house would be used to fund certain endowments and professorships. Edward Carter died in 1996. Hannah Carter vacated the house in 2006 and died in 2009.

The next year, the UC regents asked the Superior Court in Alameda County, where the University of California is based, to allow the properties’ sale by auction and to lift the “in perpetuity” requirement. The court agreed. In May 2011, the university closed the properties to the public. Months later it announced plans to auction the two acres containing the house on Siena Way and the garden on Bellagio Road. It set minimum bid prices of $9 million for the resident and $5.7 million for the garden. Hannah Carter's children sued. In 2012, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge concluded that UCLA and UC officials had behaved in a "duplicitous" manner by failing to notify the heirs of their plan to sell the garden. He ordered a temporary halt to the sale. In arguing their side, Hannah Carter’s heirs said the university risked alienating potential contributors by reneging on its written promise...

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