On April 22, Earth Day, 2016, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved Councilmember Koretz’s motion calling for creating a wildlife corridor from Griffith Park to the 405 freeway, and studying creating wildlife corridors all along the Rim of the Valley map proposal.
Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Executive Director Joe Edmiston, who spoke as an expert witness before the City Council, responded to concerns that the proposed regulations would “impose undue burdens on developers” by pointing to wildlife corridors in other areas, where he said development has not been negatively impacted.
“Developers can move over a little so that animals can have their pathways,” Edmiston said.
The City Council’s action today directs the City’s Planning Department to prepare and present an ordinance to create a Wildlife Corridor in the eastern area of the Santa Monica Mountains, from Griffith Park to the 405 freeway, requiring the following:
a) Do not issue any building or grading permits until project applicants ensure that they will permanently accommodate wildlife habitat connectivity as part of their development projects.
b) Require easements and deed restrictions in perpetuity to protect wildlife habitat connectivity.
c) Formally designate the area as a Regional Wildlife Habitat Linkage Zone in the Los Angeles Municipal Code, in as much as just one single family residential project can cause adverse impacts to the existing and threatening wildlife population.
d) Require a Biological Constraints Checklist as part of every new building project, so that each project will undergo a ‘habitat connectivity and wildlife permeability review’ within areas of concern.
Councilmember Paul Krekorian introduced an amendment instructing Planning staff to report on the feasibility of identifying the areas within the City of Los Angeles, which are in or within 500 feet of the entire National Park Service, Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resources Study Area (February 2016) as a “Potential Regional Wildlife Habitat Linkage Zone”, and to provide a system of informing all applicants of building permits and planning approvals that they are within this Zone and should make feasible accommodations for wildlife linkages; require the accommodation of wildlife linkage areas with map design guidelines, during the approval process of any subdivision of land or lot line adjustments, within this zone; and report on the feasibility of the DCP to incorporate these maps and critical Wildlife linkage areas at the time of Community Plan updates.
These are relatively tiny changes to the planning code but will make a massive difference in the health and well-being of our mountain lions, bobcats, deer, foxes, raccoons, and coyotes, and will make it much easier to co-exist with all these creatures.
Congress recognized the Santa Monica Mountains as a nationally significant in 1978 when it created the National Recreation Area. The National Park Service, which administers the area, identified increasing urbanization and habitat fragmentation as key challenges to protecting local wildlife and a functioning ecosystem. The motion approved today will go a long way towards addressing that problem.
Councilmembers Jose Huizar, David Ryu, Mitch O’Farrell and Paul Krekorian were all strong support of this motion. It could not have been done without the hard work and advocacy of CLAW (Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife), Marian Dodge and the Hillside Federation, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the National Park Service and the other members of the amazing coalition who worked so hard to educate communities and neighborhood councils across the hillside region on why creating wildlife corridors is so important. A large number of neighborhood councils weighed in in support, including the Bel Air/Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council, Mar Vista Community Council, the Encino Neighborhood Council, the Foothills Trail District Neighborhood Council, the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council, the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council and the Studio City Neighborhood Council.
Councilmember Koretz said he wants our children and grandchildren to have the same pleasure we all have had in enjoying our region’s biodiversity and that the future can now be bright for our mountain lions, bobcats, raccoons and deer.