Just last week I posted some hike write-ups in Franklin Canyon Park. I enjoyed the park a lot, but wondered about the closures of certain trails and why the Hastain Loop was littered with fences and what appeared to be cameras.
Apparently, the gates were for portions of the trail that left National Park Service land and entered private land (PDF) partially owned by developer Mohamed Hadid. Hadid had been trying to stop hikers from using the trail on his land and, according to the Save Franklin Canyon site, is also trying to level the high point of the Hastain Loop that I wrote up – which is sadly by far the best view in the entire park.
This week, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled that Hadid can no longer restrict access to the trail, and must also remove all fences and construction equipment along the trail as well. In California, private land that is in continuous use by the public for five years is automatically considered a public easement if the private owner doesn’t do anything in that five year period, or if the land has a history of public use. When Hadid purchased the land in the early 2000s, the public right of way was already well-established. A similar case is being worked out with Runyon Canyon‘s infamous Pink House.
I’m sure this will continue to go through the courts for a while, but at least for the time being hikers have won a major victory in the park.