The Land Report


The Magazine of the American Landowner is an essential guide for investors, landowners, and those interested in buying or selling land. The award-winning quarterly is known for its annual survey of America's largest landowners, The Land Report 100.

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Page 72 of 99

S P R I N G 2 0 1 8 | The LandReport 71 LANDREPORT.COM very much has the look and the ecological characteristics of the wild. Crucially, it has never been subdivided, converted to malls or mansions, or otherwise commercially developed. With today's announcement, it never will be — a different outcome than many conservationists feared over the past decade, when the land was owned by a Boston fund that has specialized in coastal-development projects. The TNC representatives I spoke with about this nature preserve, along with Jack Dangermond himself, were careful to say nothing whatsoever about these previous owners. But the group's identity and track record are easy to figure out from online sources. When it bought the ranch for some $136 million 10 years ago, just before the worldwide financial and real-estate crash, its lawyer gave a non-denial denial to local citizens concerned about commercial devel- opment. Under terms of the sale, the land could have been broken into more than 100 parcels. But according to Ethan Stewart of the Santa Barbara Independent, the hedge fund's lawyer said everyone should calm down. After all, he said, his clients "absolutely do not have any specific plans yet for the land." In the financial and regulatory condi- tions of the decade that followed, it turned out that they were not able to pursue any. Point Conception is evident on a map as the place where the California coast takes a 90-degree turn. On one side of it, stretching toward Santa Barbara and Ventura and be- yond them to Los Angeles, the coast runs nearly east-west. On the other side, heading up toward Monterey and San Francisco, the coast runs mainly north-south. (Immediately north and west of the Dangermond Preserve is Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is still in active use as a launching site for rockets and missiles.) The headland of Point Concep- tion juts out into the Pacific at the corner where the coast makes its turn, with one of the earliest lighthouses built along the California coast. "There's no place like it on this Earth," a county supervisor named Joni Gray told Ann Herold and Dan Harder of the Los Angeles Times 10 years ago, after the hedge-fund sale. "It's more beautiful than Yosemite or Yellowstone." Another man who had grown up in the region told Herold and Harder, "The footprint of man is very light out here. It's where you understand what California was all about before people ruined it." The rugged terrain includes more than 2,000 acres of coastal live-oak stands containing an estimated 1 million trees.

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