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Variety Ad: Give Your $$$ and Name, Save Laurel Canyon!

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The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is pulling out the big guns in their effort to preserve six-acres near the intersection of Laurel Canyon and Mulholland from development: a back page ad in Daily Variety (see jump for image). Paul Edelman, deputy director of natural resources and planning at the Conservancy, tells us that his group is hoping to get a big business to fork over money so the current owner of the space—who wants to sell to private developers for new housing developments—can be bought out. The donor would receive perpetual naming rights and signage (excerpt from ad: "Donor will have right to use signage for tasteful advertising display, commercial value of exposure helps offset cost”) for the space, which sees 20 millions cars pass it annually. Edelman is hoping the lot (actually six separate small lots) can be saved and turned into open space, possible with a dog park or a walking trail connecting to nearby Laurel Canyon park. About that ad, "We've had a ton of phone calls," Edelman says.

The Conservancy was facing a deadline of Sunday to come up with $150,000 to fend off immediate action from the landowner/developer—an individual named Lawrence Lazar, according to Edelman—but they just received a reprieve until August 17. That money would buy a few months, but it would take upwards of $4,000,000 for the Conservancy to gain complete control of the space. Edelman says he's hoping to get a Hollywood bigwig to sponsor a big fundraiser in the coming weeks (where's Diane Keaton??). The Conservancy already convinced city planners to kill one housing development on the space, though Lazar is suing the city over that decision.

· Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority [SMMC]