Over four decades of work yielded results in April for government officials who had spent their careers seeking to protect a five-mile portion of the Santa Monica Mountains that runs along the coast in Los Angeles County. When the California Coastal Commission approved the Land Use Plan, setting the stage to certify the Local Coastal Program that will govern the area, it reflected a consensus among property owners, environmentalists, agricultural interests, and equestrian representatives that had taken many years to build. LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky spoke with The Planning Report about the efforts to draft a document that could satisfied these stakeholders, the impact of the plan's approval, and steps still necessary to ensure that the mountains flourish in the future.
Yaroslavsky, who was elected to Los Angeles City Council in 1975 and has been a county supervisor for 20 years, describes how the plan he helped design will prevent subdivisions and other potentially harmful development from encroaching on an ecosystem that is beginning to see the return of wildlife, in close proximity to the metropolitan area's 15 million people. Beyond that, he articulates the challenges still facing the area that will fall to the next generation of political leaders to resolve.
In Zev's words, "We are protecting the ridgelines from being sawed off. We’re protecting the oak groves and the sycamore groves from being destroyed. We’re protecting the rivers and rivulets from being polluted. We’re also protecting the Santa Monica Bay from being polluted by upstream pollutants. Basically, we’re protecting it from ourselves. My philosophy has always been to let the terrain dictate the development, not the other way around. People who own private property have a right to use it, but they don’t have a right to destroy the very thing that attracted them in the first place."