Proposal will turn two-thirds of Woodland Hills orange grove into 21 homes

Tucked away off the 101 Freeway, developers have paved the way for the 14-acre Bothwell Ranch to turn into a neighborhood.

Christiane Cordero Image
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Proposal to turn two-thirds of Woodland Hills orange grove into homes
San Fernando Valley's last commercial orange grove is set to lose 1,100 trees as developers plan to make way for 21 upscale homes.

WOODLAND HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Tucked away off the 101 Freeway in Woodland Hills, developers have paved the way for the 14-acre Bothwell Ranch to turn into a neighborhood.

Renderings show what the luxury housing will look like, if finalized. Two rows of orange trees will mark the beginning of the development, with roughly 1,100 trees removed to make way for 21 addresses.

"It's consistent with the plans in this community," said Brad Rosenheim, whose company represents the developers, Borstein Enterprises. "It's consistent with the zone for this community."

Borstein Enterprises has heard a wide range of feedback through years of debate. Both Woodland Hills and Tarzana neighborhood councils support the project.

"Some of the folks who have expressed concern are not necessarily immediate neighbors," said Rosenheim.

Among those pushing to preserve Bothwell Ranch is Rob Hollman, who lives in another neighborhood but has seen the area change through his family's three generations in the Valley.

"We have a long sad history, over 100 years, of just destroying historical monuments like this one in this city," said Hollman.

Orange trees are not native to Southern California but the region does have a deep history of the crop, and the Bothwell Ranch is the last of its kind in the San Fernando Valley.

The ranch was once more than twice its current size, in a citrus-abundant San Fernando Valley. Originally a commercial farm, the trees deteriorated over time and its profits did too. After owners Lindley and Ann Bothwell died, the ranch was sold.

Hollman led an effort to buy and preserve the lot, which fell through.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield pushed for a historic designation. He says the eventual buyers didn't like that.

"That gave us a little bit of leverage to work with them," said Blumenfield. "We worked with them, and we got them to agree to donate a third of the property to the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority."

A third of the property is roughly four acres. A compromise, the councilmember says, but still, one that, for some, falls short.

"Whoever's able to save it, we're all for them," said Hollman. "If it's not the Bothell Ranch Foundation, it's another organization. Please, let's just have this happen."