The state of California is hoping to do what Barbara Streisand couldn't in selling off her gorgeous 22.5-acre Malibu ranch.
Back in the early '90s, the performer had little luck unloading the property for $11 million, but later struck a deal with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) to donate the spread and convert it into a park and retreat center. In return, Babs scored a tax write-off for the full value of the property — estimated then at just more than $15 million.
Now, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to sell the spread — and other state-owned properties — as part of an effort to raise cash to help balance the state's budget.
"The state should not be the landlord for a place that hosts mountain retreats," the governor's spokesperson Elizabeth Ashford told the Los Angeles Times.
"I understand Governor Brown's tough decision given the severe budget shortfalls that California is facing," Streisand said in a recent statement. "I only hope that there is little disruption to the residents of Ramirez Canyon through this potential transition and that whatever entity does purchase the land and the homes on it will preserve its special habitat."
When SMMC took over in 1993, the ranch was called the Barbra Streisand Center for Conservancy Studies and was intended as a sort of "environmental think-tank" retreat. Little interest in renting out the space for such purposes, however, forced officials to come up with new ways to generate cash (weddings, garden tours, movies) to maintain the five structures and expansive property.
Neighbors, however, were less than thrilled with the traffic — and Streisand sided with them, demanding that her name be dropped from the retreat. It was later rechristened as Ramirez Canyon Park and is currently available to the public by special appointment only.
According to the Associated Press, the SMMC — which has offices on the ranch — is opposing the sale, arguing that under California Coastal Commission rules adopted last year, the ranchland must remain as open space and thus is worthless to developers.
"It is likely that these development restrictions could markedly affect the price the state could receive for the park," an SMMC official said in a statement.