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The Los Angeles City Council on Friday unanimously approved plans to create a wildlife corridor to prevent injury or death to wildlife and to protect remaining open space from development.
The measure, approved on Earth Day, directs city staff to prepare an ordinance to create a corridor from Griffith Park to the 405 Freeway. The ordinance will prohibit the city from issuing building or grading permits until applicants ensure they will permanently accommodate wildlife movement as part of their project. The ordinance will formally designate the area as a Regional Wildlife Habitat Linkage Zone in the city’s municipal code and require a biological constraints checklist so every new building project can undergo review.
Announced at the Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook on Mulholland Drive, Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, said the motion calls for the city to prioritize wildlife corridors over development throughout the hillside communities.
He explained that California and the Western U.S. lost a “staggering” amount of wildlife area over the past 16 years. He said it’s important for Los Angeles to protect itself now from overdevelopment because the region is one of only 33 biodiversity “hotspots” in the world, which are home to many species that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet.
“We need to move on this before it’s too late and before we close off any more essential wildlife corridors,” he said. “The city council will be telling our famous mountain lion, P-22, and all the other deer, foxes, raccoons, bobcats and coyotes that they are a vitally important part of our urban jungle and that we want to do our part to protect their habitat.”
Councilman David Ryu, 4th District, said it’s critical to identify solutions to help us co-exist with wildlife so lawmakers can prioritize the safety of the wildlife and the public, and protect land from overdevelopment.
“As the city continues to grow, wildlife and humans are increasingly competing for space and resources and a place to call home,” he said. “Many of these species play a vital role in creating a healthy ecosystem that benefits us all.”
Joe Edmiston is the executive director of the Santa Monica Conservancy, and Koretz dubbed him “the individual most responsible for the fact that we still have wildlife in the Santa Monica Mountains.” Edmiston explained that public lawmakers too frequently have “rubber stamped” developments without ever considering wildlife.
Alison Simard with Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife said blockages in the wildlife corridors force wildlife into neighborhoods where they are feared.
“They’re not feared here,” she said. “This is not a NIMBY issue. This is a safety issue and a health issue.”
But she said the motion marks the “dawn of a new day” with a policy that looks generations ahead.
“If we save wildlife for the future, we save our own environment and we save our own health,” she said.
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