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Judge Rules Hastain Trail Will Tentatively Remain Open To Public

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A judge has tentatively ruled that a hiking trail which runs through private property within Franklin Canyon should remain open for public use.

The Hastain Trail is popular among hikers because of a summit that boasts panoramic views of downtown L.A. and the Santa Monica Bay. The Franklin Canyon is nestled between the San Fernando Valley and Beverly Hills.

L.A. Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos ruled Tuesday that Mohamed Hadid and his companies, Coldwater Development LLC and Lydda Lud LLC, cannot stop people from accessing the portion of the trail that crosses the developer's land.

About one-third of a mile of the 1.5 mile trail falls on Hadid's land and the rest is on public property, according to court documents.

Palazuelos also directed Hadid to remove all fencing and equipment that may be blocking hikers from accessing the route.

The ruling comes following a move by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority last month claiming the land Hadid bought in 2000 carried an implied public dedication of land for the trail, which was created by law decades earlier.

"I'm very pleased," MRCA's attorney Eric Edmunds said of the tentative decision. "I think it was critical that the judge visited the site before making her ruling."

Hadid bought the Franklin Canyon property for residential development. He has cultivated both residential and business developments worldwide, including Ritz-Carlton hotels in Washington, D.C. and New York.

Hadid's lawyer, Phil Woog, argued declaring a public easement on the trail would heavily diminish the land's development potential and cost Hadid millions of dollars, according to court documents.

Woog claimed the hikers' real motive is to stop his client's residential building plans rather than to preserve the trail.

He also maintained that much of what the hikers called a trail within the developer's property was actually a fire road.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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