A heated legal battle that's dragged on for nearly five years between UCLA and the family of Hannah Carter over the fantastic Hannah Carter Japanese Garden in Bel Air has finally reached a settlement. Under the deal, the school—which was fighting for the right to sell the garden and a house that shares the property—will get to do just that, but the future owner of the house must agree to preserve the garden for at least 30 years, reports the LA Times. UCLA has been hoping to sell the garden because upkeep costs are high; a rep said the serene spot, which has a tea house, streams, and a waterfall, eats up $200,000 a year in maintenance alone.
The garden and Traditional-style house were given to the university in 1964 by Edward W. Carter, former UC Regent (and the founder of the Broadway department stores), and his wife, Hannah Carter. At that time, "The UC regents, UCLA's governing body, promised to maintain the garden forever." In 1982, the Carters and the school agreed that when their house was sold, the profits would fund professorships at UCLA.
But by 2010, both Carters had passed away and the Regents wanted to erase the "forever" part of their agreement. A court in Alameda County, where the Regents are based, approved the deal. In 2011, the school put the house and the garden up for sale, and in 2012, Carter's family sued the school and stalled the sale. The years between then and now have been spent on a long, slow legal tug--of-war.
This resolution to the battle has both sides feeling pretty good. (UCLA's even reimbursing the Carter heirs' legal fees.) "The key realization that we came to quite a long time ago is that the garden has a better chance of survival in private hands than in the hands of UCLA," one of the Carters' five children says. The only bummer here is that the settlement didn't include any requirements that new owners of the garden—once open to the public but shuttered since 2011—reopen it to visitors. So if you haven't been, you might not get another chance.
· UCLA and Hannah Carter heirs settle suit over Japanese garden in Bel-Air [LAT]
· Judge Stops UCLA's Sale of Carter Japanese Garden (For Now) [Curbed LA]
· UCLA Has to Hold On, Maintain Japanese Garden in Bel Air [Curbed LA]