The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday to give the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy the opportunity to buy remaining city-owned properties in the mountain zone before adjacent property owners are allowed to in an effort to protect some remaining wildlife habitats in the city from being developed.
Council members voted 15-0 Tuesday to approve the ordinance. The new ordinance will take effect 31 days after it is published.
The ordinance gives the conservancy the right of first refusal to acquire Santa Monica Mountain Zone land identified through the “Own A Piece of LA” program, which was launched in 2009 to identify city-owned slivers of land that are deemed undevelopable and offer them to adjoining property owners.
The motion was introduced by Councilman Paul Koretz and Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who cited that “engineering innovation has advanced in the past decades,” which could mean that the land gets developed by the buyer.
Los Angeles is within the California Floristic Province biodiversity hotspot and includes more than 1,500 endemic plant species, the motion states. However, at least 70% of the natural habitat has been lost, and what remains is largely located in the mountains and hillsides.
“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,” said Paul Edelman, chief biologist and deputy director of natural resources and planning of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.