Opponents of UCLA’s plans to sell the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden have established a website, http://hannahcarterjapanesegarden.com, which includes an online petition.

“As Hannah Carter’s oldest son, I know that the garden meant a great deal to our mother and Ed (Carter, former chairman of the UC Board of Regents),” wrote Jim Caldwell. “Their decision to donate the garden to UCLA in 1964 was one that was made to preserve it forever and with the understanding that this priceless resource could never be sold and always be open to the public …

“Please take a moment to sign the online petition urging UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and the regents of the University of California to STOP the sale of the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden … On the website you can also learn more about the significance of the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden and other things you can do to help us save this cultural and academic treasure.”

The website provides the following overview: “A place of natural beauty and quiet retreat in the Los Angeles community of Bel Air, the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden is modeled on the gardens of Kyoto. The beautiful hillside garden was designed by noted Japanese garden designer Nagao Sakurai in 1959 and constructed between 1959 and 1961. It is recognized as one of the finest examples of Japanese gardens in America …

“Sadly, the garden is now closed to the public and its survival is threatened. In November 2011, UCLA announced plans to sell the garden, citing rising maintenance costs, deferred maintenance, and the lack of attendance due to limited parking. The garden was donated to UCLA from the Carter family with a promise that the garden would not be sold.

“The university plans to list both the garden and the adjoining house for sale in February 2012, after removing valuable art objects that are integral to the design of the garden …

“The University of California accepted the generous gift of the garden in 1964 with the promise that it would never be sold … Agreements from 1964, 1982, and 1999 … all state that the garden will be maintained and improved in perpetuity.”

The website includes copies of the documents and an audio recording of a public meeting on the issue held Jan. 31 in Bel Air. Critics of the university’s plans say there is no guarantee that the new owner will preserve the garden.

Supporters of the garden include City Councilmember Paul Koretz, the Garden Conservancy, the Los Angeles Conservancy, California Preservation Foundation, the California Garden and Landscape History Society, the Cultural Landscape Foundation, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and North American Japanese Garden Association.

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