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Lawsuit filed to block Japanese garden sale by UC Regents

UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden

Photo by Drew Wilder-Goodwin via Flickr Creative Commons

UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden

To block to the proposed sale of the Hannah Carter Japanese garden in Bel Air that was gifted to UCLA in 1964, heirs of the garden's namesake have filed suit against the UC Regents in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The 1.5-acre garden, viewed by the university as an opportunity to raise millions for endowments, programs and professorships, has been strongly opposed by conservationist groups like the LA Conservancy and Garden Conservancy.

The lawsuit asserts breach of contract by the UC Board of Regents for not upholding the donation documents specifying the garden, designed by landscape architect Nagao Sakurai, be maintained in perpetuity.

A spokesman for UCLA said the university "intends to contest the lawsuit," notes the L.A. Times, adding that all appropriate steps had been taken and there was "every legal right to proceed with the sale."

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Controversy grows over UCLA proposed sale of donated Japanese Garden

UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden

Photo by Drew Wilder-Goodwin via Flickr Creative Commons

UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden

Nothing lasts forever. Not even the meaning of "in perpetuity." Last year, a court ruling allowed UCLA to remove the eternally terrifying clause from a 1964 donation agreement, and the university is now looking to sell its Japanese Garden property.

The proposed sale of the Bel Air 1.5-acre Hannah Carter Japanese Garden is viewed by the university as an opportunity to raise roughly $5.7 million for endowments, programs and professorships, but the move to market is strongly opposed by conservationist groups.

The LA Conservancy and Garden Conservancy say the plan does not include protective measures or maintenance requirements for the garden, and that a single family home could still be built on the agricultural zone.

According to the LA Times, the university has already started removing objects from the site, and plans to keep some significant pieces -- including a Buddha statue and pagoda -- at the Fowler Museum or other locations on campus.

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