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Home / Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy

SM Mountains Conservancy to get first dibs on slivers of city-owned land

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday to give the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy the opportunity to buy remaining city-owned properties in the mountain zone before adjacent property owners are allowed to — part of an effort to protect some remaining wildlife habitats in the city from being developed.

Council members voted 15-0 Tuesday to approve the ordinance that was requested in March by a 12-0 vote.

The new ordinance, which will take effect 31 days after it is published, gives the conservancy the right of first refusal to acquire Santa Monica Mountain Zone land identified through the “Own A Piece of LA” program, which was launched in 2009 to identify city-owned slivers of land that are deemed undevelopable and offer them to adjoining property owners.

The motion was introduced by Councilman Paul Koretz and Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who cited that “engineering innovation has advanced in the past decades,” which could mean that the land gets developed by the buyer.

Los Angeles is within the California Floristic Province biodiversity hotspot and includes more than 1,500 endemic plant species, the motion states. However, at least 70% of the natural habitat has been lost, and what remains is largely located in the mountains and hillsides.

“I’ve been working with the Planning Department for the better part of a decade to protect wildlife habitat connectivity in the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s critical that we be certain we’re not at the same time inadvertently selling off parcels for development that could obstruct the very linkages we’ve been working so hard to protect,” Koretz said before Tuesday’s vote.

The council members noted in their motion that the slivers of undeveloped land provide habitat connectivity for animals in the Santa Monica Mountains, including mountain lions, which are being considered for listing as “threatened” under the California Endangered Species Act.

“Wildlife habitat connectivity is so essential to the survival of the cornerstone species we share our Santa Monica Mountains with, and many areas are in serious danger of being blocked if we do not act urgently and consciously,” Paul Edelman, chief biologist and deputy director of natural resources and planning for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, said in March.

Koretz’s office credited Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife for bringing the issue to the council’s attention. The organization’s co-founder, Tony Tucci, said in March after the council’s vote that the measure “recognizes that undeveloped city-owned lands of any size in our hillsides let us all `breathe’ and that this land has an inherent and immediate value to our environment and a long-term benefit for the well-being of both our wildlife and human populations of Los Angeles.”

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