Schmitz & Associates Inc. Summary of the Santa Monica Mountains North Area Plan

As part of Schmitz & Associates ongoing due diligence monitoring the Santa Monica Mountains (SMM) North area plan, we have gathered the following relevant notes for your review.

Current Status:

The Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning (LADRP) are currently in the draft process of the plan (to be completed in the Spring/Summer of 2018) and will complete the draft Establishment Inspection Report (EIR) in the Summer/Fall 2018.

The goals and objectives of the SMM North area plan include:

  • Protecting sensitive wildlife/wildlife corridors
  • Supporting open space/trail conservation
  • Protecting biodiversity and riparian ecosystems throughout the SMM
  • Increasing tree protection
  • Mapping sensitive habitats
  • Retaining rural/agricultural character within neighborhoods
  • Preserving the natural beauty of the SMM for all who use them
Santa Monica North Area Plan

The bright green outline references the Santa Monica Mountains

Key Outcomes:

Adding: habitat sensitive areas (*S1-S4),

Adding: Heritage tree protection,

Updating: the NA SEA

  • Habitat sensitive areas:
    • S1 – habitat of limited distribution, rarity or important habitat function; restrict to the most unique or rare habitat that provides important functions (i.e. riparian and oak woodlands, rock outcrops, seeps and springs for sensitive plants and wildlife (these will have the most restrictive development standards, little to no development should occur in s1 habitat);
    • S2 – native scrub and chaparral communities, including any native scrubs and non-native annual grasslands (development restrictions – may be subject to development after consideration of site-specific conditions, and development should avoid sensitive resources if detected);
    • S3 – disturbed, exotic and cleared communities, including areas supporting ruderal or disturbed plant communities, non-native vegetation, legally cleared areas and fuel modification zones (development restrictions may be subject to development after consideration of site specific conditions);
    • S4  –  developed land and agricultural communities (development restrictions will focus on development, where possible, and after consideration of site-specific conditions).
  • Trees: proposed protected trees include native and heritage trees, which they are exploring/defining base on tree size, age and non-native nature of trees.
  • SEA: purpose of update is to better guide development on properties to the least impactful locations and encourage avoidance of impacts to SEA resources. NOTE: the NA Community Standards District Update will regulate this separately, as the NA SEA is not part of the SEA program (according to DRP).

Our Concerns
We are anticipating that these new regulations will be similar to the Coastal Zone Development standards, in which case, the development standards will likely limit most new residential and other developments to a 10,000 sq. ft. total Development Area (similar to ESHA standards in the Coastal Zone) and there will be much more stringent protections for mitigation for encroachment or removal of native vegetation or trees (10:1 mitigation for removals). Areas such as Topanga (in the North Area) will likely be hit hardest because of the number of native trees, streams and sensitive vegetation making it even more difficult to plan and permit new residences there. Equestrian and agricultural uses will also be significantly impacted as they were in the Coastal zone.

DRP has approved only a single residence in approximately 5 years. Since the LCP was certified. With increased levels of environmental review come significant added project costs and the regulator process will become much more complicated and cumbersome. We will be reviewing this new ordinance closely and continuing to update our clients accordingly.

If you would like more information about the SMM North area plan, please contact us and we will be happy to answer any of your questions (818) 338-3636 or email: info@schmitzandassociates.net

* “S” is a brand new tiered system that stands for the four “sensitivity” categories (S1, S2, S3, S4) that the County has established, with S1 being the most sensitive. Each category defines habitat sensitivity and what the allowable uses are within each of those categories.

 

 

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