After a lengthy and costly struggle, the 588-acre Soka University site near the intersection of Mulholland and Las Virgines Road in the Santa Monica Mountains in western Los Angeles county has become publicly owned parkland.
A combination of state and regional agencies will pay a total of $35 million to the university for what once was the King Gillette ranch.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, State Assembly member Fran Pavley, State Parks Director Ruth Coleman, Wildlife Conservation Board Director Al Wright, and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Director Joe Edmiston were among the officials who assembled last Saturday on the site to announce the purchase.
Yaraslovsky has been credited with crafting the complex deal.
Since the mid-1970s, state parks officials have sought to purchase and preserve the large parcel that is located in the heart of the Malibu Creek watershed and adjacent to Malibu Creek State Park. In addition to its natural assets and 360-degree views of Los Angeles and the ocean, it is said to be rich in archeological, cultural and historic resources, ranging from Chumash settlements to structures designed for safety razor magnate Gillette in the 1920s by renowned Los Angeles architect Wallace Neff.
In addition to being known as Gillette’s ranch, the property has also been known as Claretville, and Camelot.In 1939, it stood in as “the road to Tara” in Gone With the Wind.