From left, Susan Nissman, Senior Deputy to Third District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky with Rosi Dagit, Senior Biologist with the Resource Conservatin District of the Santa Monica Mountains, as they celebrate approval of the Local Coastal Plan.
It was a stunning victory for Santa Monica Mountain communities and coastal areas when, on February 11, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 (Supv. Michael Antonovich abstaining) to adopt the Santa Monica Mountains Local Coastal Program (LCP).
Spearheaded by Third District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, the LCP is a mechanism for allowing one-stop approval for agreement between the County and State whereas the Coastal Commission currently has a two-step process that delegates authority to local government to comply with state and local protections.
The LCP would cover about 80 square miles in the Santa Monica Mountains stretching about five miles inland from the coast and includes equestrian and hiking trails.
The Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation (LVHF), representing almost 10,000 homeowners, property owners and horse owners in the Santa Monica Mountains, voted unanimously to support the proposed LCP and urged the Supervisors to pass the resolution.
Ben Saltsman, Planning Deputy for Third District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and co-author of the Local Coastal Plan, leaves the County building downtown in triumph with Kim Lamorie, right, who is president of the Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation.
For more than seven years, we have been working with the county to bring balance, consistency and predictability to all stakeholders within the Coastal Zone, wrote Kim Lamorie, in a letter to the Board of Supervisors. This LCP reflects those efforts.
Briefly explained, all coastal communities must have a local coastal program. This vote would remove control of coastal regions within the Third Supervisorial District from the California Coastal Commission and replace it with the LCP.
It safeguards the unique character of our mountain communities, Lamorie wrote. It removes habitat mitigation fees that the Coastal Commission charges today; it allows us to rebuild after natural disasters; it ensures that horse owners in our LCP communities of Topanga, Monte Nido, Cold Creek and Malibou Lake can thrive; and, it greatly enhances recreational benefits and public access for everyoneincluding trail, parkland and scenic route preservation.
Without the LCP, the LVHF fears that the California Coastal Commission would retain final permit authority and continue with its case-by-case, ad hoc policy interpretations for coastal development permits, one that has come under criticism by property owners.
In addition to the LVHF, nearly three-dozen Topanga and Santa Monica Mountain residents, including Roger Pugliese of TASC and Rosi Dagit of the RCDSMM, testified on behalf of the LCP.
Other heavy hitters included support from Pepperdine University in Malibu; the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Heal the Bay, the Sierra Club and State Sen. Fran Pavley.
It's not a perfect plan, Yaroslavsky said after the testimony, but argued to opponents of the LCP that the prohibition on new agricultural uses and vineyards was already in place, imposed by the Coastal Commission, not the County.
Final implementation of the LCP will depend on Coastal Commission approval when they hold a public hearing on the matter sometime in April.
This victory belongs to Zev! Lamorie said in an e-mail to the LVHF. His efforts to protect the Santa Monica Mountains have never wavered and his strength, commitment and passion to drive this LCP have been extraordinary. This LCP will be the crowning glory of the legacy he will leave behindso important, as a matter of fact, that as one of the Feds delegates so astutely pointed out, this is a day that will go down in history for the people of the Santa Monica Mountains.... and it will, because it protects the future.