The Corner

Trouble At The Former Streisand Center

Didn’t know there used to be a Barbra Streisand Center? Neither did lots of other folks who were supposed to gravitate towards the Malibu-based think tank on environmental issues. And once the folks in Malibu learned what the leaders of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy decided to do with the little-used property, thousands of acres preserved from commercial development, they got rather upset:

The conservancy . . . has used state bond money and other funding to acquire more than 62,000 acres of land in some of the most coveted areas of Southern California, including Malibu. However, its initial good began to disappear after Streisand donated her lush 22-acre estate to the agency in 1993.

The conservancy opened its headquarters there and moved to set up what it promised would be an academic think-tank called the Barbra Streisand Center for Conservancy Studies. But when interest in conferences lagged, the conservancy began renting out the estate for weddings and garden tours to pay for maintaining its five houses and grounds.

Neighboring homeowners complained about music and catering trucks, and also fear that more traffic could block narrow roads during brush fires. Homeowners sued in 1999, and the conservancy eventually halted the events. Streisand asked that her name be removed from the center, and it was renamed Ramirez Canyon Park.

To add to the fun, Don Henley is involved in the dispute, as well. Meanwhile, the conservancy’s leader tagged the snobbishness imbedded in community opposition to the plan. “Having a glass wall and people pressing their noses against it watching the ultra-rich as they walk their dogs is not going to work for very long,” he said.

John Hood is a syndicated columnist and the president of the John William Pope Foundation, a North Carolina–based grantmaker.

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