Homes in L.A.'s Hollywood Hills, near Laurel Canyon. Flickr/gaioum

Yes, “Let’s Buy a Mountain” is a NIMBYist campaign. But it has a point.

A certain kind of NIMBY resides in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon: wealthy, white, and heavily attached to the Legacy of Joni Mitchell. As anyone who lives there will tell you, the iconic musician shaped her star in the woodsy bohemia of the neighborhood during the 1960s and ‘70s.

Over the years, residents have fought hard to preserve the era’s vibe, combating would-be developers of the canyon’s chaparral slopes. Now, more than ever, they’re trying to hold onto the feeling—well, they’re seriously clinging to 17 acres of it. Laurel Canyon-ites now want to buy a hill to save it from developers, and they want help from other Angelenos.

The L.A. Times reports:

"Please help us buy this mountain," Jamie Hall, president of the Laurel Canyon Assn., pleaded to an array of television cameras Wednesday atop the hills. "It's not as crazy as you think."

The Laurel Canyon Assn., Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife and their allies kicked off their efforts with a news conference at a show-stopping crest of the rugged property.

Their campaign, dubbed "Let's Buy a Mountain," was the brainchild of Hall, a land-use attorney and local resident who said he was sick of battling new development after it was already in the works.

“Let’s Buy a Mountain” calls on the whole city to chip in to purchase the land from its current owner, who’s given the group a year and a half to come up with a $1.7 million payment.

Yes, L.A. is experiencing one of the worst housing shortages in the country. Yes, this is hippie-NIMBYism, the likes of which some say have made San Francisco totally unaffordable.

There is some legitimacy here, however: Once purchased, the parcel of land will be turned over to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, the agency that oversees much of the range that runs through Los Angeles. The MRCA would preserve the Laurel Canyon land as open space and as a wildlife corridor, which representatives say it would be thrilled to do.

“It is a key piece of property, in terms of its position in the corridor,” Dash Stolarz, the MRCA’s public affairs officer, tells CityLab. “The reason we have mountain lions running through urban L.A. is because of citizens, and agencies like ours, that have put their foot down and said, ‘We’re going to preserve this.’”

In an ideal world, Stolarz admits it would be public, rather than private, funds coming to the rescue of vital habitat: “Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of that money.

But among Laurel Canyon’s nostalgic, wealthy residents, there sure is. In video, here are (some of) the reasons why they want to buy a mountain—set, of course, to a Joni Mitchell classic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Environment

    How City Failures Affect Trust in Climate Planning

    Cities may struggle to gain support for climate action plans because they haven’t dealt with infrastructure issues that regularly afflict residents.

  2. Groups of people look at their phones while sitting in Washington Square Park in Manhattan.
    Life

    How Socially Integrated Is Your City? Ask Twitter.

    Using geotagged tweets, researchers found four types of social connectedness in big U.S. cities, exemplified by New York, San Francisco, Detroit, and Miami.

  3. Equity

    The Invisible Borders That Define American Culture

    We can be connected (or disconnected) based on where we move, how we speak, and even what sports teams we root for.

  4. a photo of a woman on a SkyTrain car its way to the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia.
    Transportation

    In the City That Ride-Hailing Forgot, Change Is Coming

    Fears of congestion and a powerful taxi lobby have long kept ride-hailing apps out of transit-friendly Vancouver, British Columbia. That’s about to change.  

  5. Life

    Dublin Is Changing, and Locals Hate It

    The recent loss of popular murals and local pubs is fueling a deeper angst over mass tourism, redevelopment and urban transformation in the Irish capital.

×