Conservancy wants 80 acres of land near airport

The California Tahoe Conservancy has an agreement to buy about 80 acres of undeveloped land off Pioneer Trail.

The verbal agreement is with a real estate agent representing the trust of Harold Edelstein, a deceased surveyor from Los Angeles, to pay $2.39 million for the land. The land is east of Lake Tahoe Airport and south of Golden Bear Trail.

The Conservancy has been in talks with Edelstein and his associates for about 12 years because it is prime habitat for wildlife and close to Trout Creek, which flows to Lake Tahoe, said Bruce Eisner, land acquisition program manager at the Conservancy.

Edelstein had wanted to develop the land as a subdivision but wasn't allowed to because it is outside a boundary set for urban development.

Since Edelstein's death three years ago, directors of the Edelstein Foundation have been selling properties he owned in California, Arizona and Nevada. Cash from the sales funds programs that feed the poor and homeless, said Marvin Burns, an attorney in Los Angeles who serves as a director for the foundation.

The property has been listed at $3 million for about three years.

"A $3 million ticket in California without lake views is a hard market," said Susan Lowe, a broker at Chase International Distinctive Properties, who handles the property.

More than 860,000 square feet within the 80 acres could, by law, be built on. But since it is located outside the urban boundary and can't be subdivided, the land coverage could only be split between two homes because the land is comprised of two parcels.

Eisner, who anticipates the land deal will be completed by the end of the year, said it is environmentally sensitive and needs to be protected from development.

"It's open area, a great wildlife corridor and some of the land adjoining Trout Creek is environmentally sensitive," Eisner said. "So protection of this area for water quality purposes and preserving that corridor is an important public objective and Conservancy acquisition allows that to occur. It's a great opportunity for the public."

The Conservancy has been buying land in the Lake Tahoe Basin for 18 years and owns more than 4,500 parcels, most of which are small lots. The agency's most recent large purchase involved 155 acres near Heavenly Ski Resort for $3.8 million. The land is going to be part of a bistate park.

The largest continuous piece of property bought by the agency involved 930 acres on the North Shore near Burton Creek. The Dollar family sold the land to the Conservancy in 1989.


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