Friday, February 21, 2014

Red Car Property: "Red Car Line Park? Is This A Scam?"

Photo: Jonathan Vandiveer, January 25, 2014.  Red Car Canyon: not a park, it just looks like one.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

A letter landed in mailboxes of Red Car Property adjacent property owners today claiming to be from "Red Car Line Park" with a gmail address similar to ours & a mailing address in Oakland.  Since about 4pm this afternoon, neighborhood email about it has been non-stop.

Let's look at some facts.

The "Red Car Line Park" group is in NO WAY affiliated with this blog nor Community Residents' Association for Parks (CRAP is a 501c3).  

The letter claims they are working in partnership with the Trust for Public Land.  The property owner has failed to sign an option agreement with the Trust for Public Land since they first listed it for sale back in summer of 2012.

The letter claims to be needing your help in "cleaning the property lines."  In other words they have no idea where the property lines are because there are so many encroachments that have to be cleared so they can show they own the land free & clear of encroachments.  They cannot sell or submit development plans to the City without showing "clear title" to the land. 

The letter even offers to come haul away your fence if it's encroaching on their land. Yet they never seem to be able to paint over graffiti on your fence, pick up dumping & downed trees nor do their own brush clearance

Neighbors who received the letter said it looked like a scam.  Several sent me copies & I have to agree.  Just because someone can look up your Assessor's Parcel Number (APN) & access your name & address via public records, in this day of identity theft, you should be reluctant to respond to such a letter.  It doesn't even identify the Red Car Property owner's name & address.  Neighbors are saying it just looks shady.

Trust for Public Land (TPL) has been talking to the Red Car Property owner's rep listed on the letter. 

Without an option agreement with TPL, if the property owner clears up all the encroachments on the land, they do not have to sell to TPL.  Even with an option agreement, when the option expires, they do not have to sell to TPL, but it is a sign of good faith that they are taking the land off the market for a specific amount of time while TPL would do appropriate appraisal to prepare a fair market value bid. 

In 2001, another developer sold the property out from under us when CRAP, in partnership with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC), secured a grant to purchase the property.  The difference in price was a mere $40,000 & we were NOT given notice of the impending sale, nor given the opportunity to increase the offer after we worked in a "friendly" manner with that developer on park acquisition.  

Stay tuned.  I put in a call to the Trust for Public Land, since I'm the one getting all the calls. 

This column is strictly meant to enlighten neighbors to recent history.  It was not prepared in cooperation with any of the aforementioned organizations.  Any opinions expressed, are my own or those of your neighbors. It is in no way intended to be legal advice.  If you are concerned about your encroachments, you should seek advice from a real estate attorney.  Anytime you buy a home next to vacant land, there is risk that it will be developed.     
Diane Edwardson
24 year Corralitas Drive resident
22 year community leader

One Red Car Canyon neighbor said in a group email, "My feeling is wait till TPL and the owner have reached a deal on the sale of the property. Otherwise you're just helping them clean up their property for sale to anyone including developers."

Read the long development history of the Red Car Property.

Editor's note: Our recent hiatus from daily posting has nothing to do with this recent news, it is an unfortunate coincidence.