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The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance on May 24 giving the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy first right of refusal to purchase any surplus hillside land owned by the city so it can be preserved.
The conservancy will have the right to purchase the land for the city’s asking price, plus any administrative and management costs. After two years, SMMC will have an additional re-offer option if the land is not sold and is offered again to new buyers.
In 2008-09, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa initiated the “Own A Piece of L.A.” program, which offered undevelopable parcels of surplus city land to adjoining property owners. However, with advanced engineering innovations in recent decades, development in sensitive ecological areas has increased, resulting in the fragmentation and degradation of essential wildlife habitat, said Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District. This is particularly true in the Santa Monica Mountains, which is home to the Southern California subpopulation of mountain lions. The Southern California mountain lions are among a species currently under consideration for designation as “threatened” under the California Endangered Species Act.
“While I have been working with the city planning department for the better part of a decade to protect biodiversity and wildlife habitat connectivity in the Santa Monica Mountains, we must be certain we are not at the same time inadvertently selling off parcels for development that could obstruct the very linkages we are working so hard to protect,” Koretz added. Thank you to my colleagues for unanimously partnering with me to protect our precious wildlife and habitats in our Santa Monica Mountains.”
Los Angeles is located in a global biodiversity area called the California Floristic Province, which means it includes more than 1,500 endemic plant species, at least 70% of the area’s original habitat has been lost and the rest is endangered by human activities. Much of the remaining biodiversity within Los Angeles is located in the mountains and hillsides. Plants and animals need the interconnected ecosystems to continue to exist and flourish, Koretz added.
“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,” added Paul Edelman, deputy director of natural resources and planning for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. “This action by the City Council is so important and affirms the state Legislature’s 1979 Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Act, but more steps need to be taken sooner rather than later.”
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