'Save the Peak' campaign has 3 weeks to raise $3 million for Hollywood sign preservation

A nonprofit conservation group has three weeks left to raise the remaining $3 million needed to buy the land around the landmark Hollywood Sign and prevent it from being turned into a residential development.

"We're talking to a lot of people," said Tim Ahern of the Trust for Public Land. "We feel good about where we are and we feel good about our chances to do this."

The Hollywood Sign is owned by the city of Los Angeles, but the 138-acre property around it belongs to a group of Chicago-based investors who acquired rights to build four luxury mansions along the ridgeline.

The investors initially planned to sell the land to real estate developers for $22 million but agreed to turn it over to the Trust for $12.5 million – only if the money comes in before April 14.

Councilman Tom LaBonge said the trust has collected $9.5 million so far, a large portion of which came from the city's Departments of Recreation and Parks and Public Works.

The rest of the money came from private donors, such as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, various movie and television companies, local community organizations, as well as celebrities such as Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.

"I want to thank everyone who has donated to the Save the Peak campaign," LaBonge said. "We're getting closer to our goal and if we continue working hard, I know we'll reach it.

To raise awareness about the fundraising effort, officials of the city and the Trust last month draped the Hollywood Sign with a banner that read "Save the Peak."

Over the last 38 years, the Trust has conserved 2.8 million acres of land across the country to be used for parks, gardens and other natural spaces. Ahern said he wants to see the ecosystem of native chaparral and animals around the Hollywood sign maintained.

Donations can be made through the Web site www.savehollywoodland.org.

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