(KTLA-TV / February 15, 2010)

LOS ANGELES -- Today marked the deadline to "Save the Peak" beside the world famous Hollywood sign, and to add a bit of Hollywood drama, the effort has been continued.

The Trust for Public Land says it has received a 16-day extension to finish raising the $12.5 million it needs to buy and preserve the Cahuenga Peak property from private developers.

The group says it's $1.5 million away from its goal.

Aileen Getty, a billionaire daughter of oil baron J. Paul Getty, and The Tiffany and Co. Foundation have contributed $1 million each to the effort. They have pledged another $500,000 if another $1million is raised.

In February, the Hollywood sign was transformed to read, "Save the Peak" to bring awareness to the peak-saving efforts.





The sign itself is owned by the city of Los Angeles, but the 138-acre property around it belongs to a group of investors in the Chicago area who acquired rights to build four luxury mansions along the ridgeline.

The Trust for Public Land hopes to buy the 138-acre parcel and give it to the city, so it can be incorporated into the adjacent 4,200-acre Griffith Park.

The investors initially planned to sell the land to real estate developers for $22 million, but agreed to turn it over to the nonprofit, "Trust for Public Land" for $12.5 million.

The trust -- which over the last 38 years has conserved 2.8 million acres of land across the country to be used for parks, gardens and other natural spaces -- wants to see the ecosystem of native chaparral and animals around the Hollywood sign maintained.

Before the latest campaign, environmentalists raised $7 million to buy the land around the sign, more than half of which came from the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks and Public Works departments. The rest came from private donors, including the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Councilman Tom LaBonge said the city wants to acquire the land "not only to maintain the view of the Hollywood sign, but also to preserve open space, hiking trails and wildlife corridors" for the future of Los Angeles.

"We are grateful to have a little more time to reach our goal, and we're going to get there," LaBonge said when announcing the extension on Wednesday.

Fox River Financial Resources purchased the mountain site from the estate of Howard Hughes in 2002 for about $1.7 million and had it zoned into four home sites.

The movie producer and industrialist bought the mountaintop in the 1930s and planned to build a love nest there for actress Ginger Rogers, who wanted no part of it.

If you're interested in donating, visit www.savehollywoodland.org.