Putting the squeeze on development: LA councilman opposes sale of orange grove

Bothwell Ranch, the last remaining orange grove in the Valley, is on the market and could be developed into a housing community

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and Bothwell Ranch
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and Bothwell Ranch

The season appears ripe for a battle over the San Fernando Valley’s last remaining commercial orange grove and its potential sale to a developer.

The 14-acre Bothwell Ranch in Tarzana hit the market in April for $13.9 million. But this week, Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield moved to protect the property, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. Blumenfield wants to designate Bothwell Ranch as a Historic-Cultural Monument, which wouldn’t necessarily bar development, but could restrict certain changes to the property.

Colliers International marketing material says that zoning would allow the property to be split into 26 half-acre single-family lots worth $2-4 million each.
A Historic-Cultural Monument would mean any redevelopment plan would be subject to more stringent review and could significantly lengthen the entitlement process. Those are some of the reasons why community advocates use designation motions as leverage to negotiate concessions from developers and discourage development altogether.

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Blumenfield’s move freezes any building permits for the property until the city decides on a designation.

The 1,500-orange tree Bothwell Ranch sits in a single-family neighborhood at 5300 N. Oakdale Avenue, south of the 101 Freeway and east of Woodland Hills.
Bothwell Ranch was founded in the 1920s by prominent University of Southern California cheerleading coach Lindley Bothwell and his wife Ann Bothwell, when the San Fernando Valley was largely farmland.

Ann Bothwell ran the grove operation until her death in 2016. The Bothwell family still owns the property. [LADN] Dennis Lynch