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DEVELOPMENT PLAN IS OK'D BY COUNTY MOUNTAINS: SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS ZONING PERMITS WOULD ALLOW INNS, BED-AND-BREAKFASTS.

Byline: Troy Anderson

Staff Writer

After a 20-year standoff with the Coastal Commission, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a plan that -- if approved by the commission -- would allow the county to take over coastal development permitting responsibilities in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Los Angeles County is the last major jurisdiction in the state that hasn't complied with the 1976 Coastal Act, which required local governments to take responsibility for issuing permits.

The county plan will now go to the commission for its approval.

"This plan is a product of community input," Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said. "No plan I've ever been involved in had more community involvement.

"It's not something we dreamed up in the ivory tower here. We now have a plan embraced by a cross-section of people who live in this area."

The plan bans construction in the most-sensitive habitats and limits development in other parts of an 81-mile swath extending five miles inland from the ocean.

It has been supported by the National Park Service and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

"Thank you for the most environmentally sensitive planning document that has come before this board, certainly in the 30 years I've been working here," said Joseph Edmiston, executive director of the conservancy.

"This plan represents a compromise, but it represents a compromise in favor of the environment."

But critics -- including commission staff -- say the plan doesn't go far enough to protect the mountains from overdevelopment.

Others also raised concerns about the impacts potential development would have on water quality in the Santa Monica Bay and on the rural qualities of the national recreation area.

The plan provides residents with a more streamlined permitting process and creates a Rural-Coastal Zone that replaces agricultural zones.

Residential development and other uses would be allowed in the new zone, including backyard boarding of horses, bed-and-breakfast establishments and rural inns.

Both bed-and-breakfasts and inns would require major coastal development permits.

"I'm afraid this will cause the commercialization of the Santa Monica Mountains," said Calabasas resident Valerie Burkholder. "This will allow restaurants and hotels in the Santa Monica Mountains, which will result in more traffic from guests, workers and delivery trucks.

"And it will bring in people from out of town. And then there is backyard boarding. It provides an attractive economic incentive to have the maximum number of horses."

The new plan also expands a prohibition on development within 50 feet of a significant ridgeline, preventing developers from leveling more mountaintops to construct homes.

Ridgeline development is currently prohibited in the northern part of the mountains, but that prohibition will now be expanded throughout the mountains.

"That was a major controversy," said Ben Saltsman, planning deputy to Yaroslavsky. "The ridgelines are the most susceptible to fires. That's an important point in light of what happened last week."

The vote Tuesday comes seven years after supervisors approved the Santa Monica Mountains North Area Plan as a way to stop overdevelopment along the Ventura Freeway.

troy.anderson(at)dailynews.com

(213) 974-8985
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 31, 2007
Words:499
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