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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Trouble with the Newly Minted Local Coastal Plan

A few community leaders will be meeting to discuss the discrepancies concerning the Local Coastal Program prepared by County Planning under the direction of our Supervisor, Zev Yaroslavsky. The plan passed handily at the Board of Supervisors meetings on the 11th and 18th of last month with support from the Monte Nido Equestrian Trails Inc. Corral 36, and the Monte Nido Valley Community Association, however, controversy erupted over some equestrian provisions and the once united front disintegrated.  As a result, much questionable information has surfaced so Ben Saltsman was asked to come to Monte Nido at a open meeting, to clear up the questions.  The goal is to reestablish a united front, if possible, in preparation for the California Coastal Commission hearing on the LCP scheduled for April in Santa Barbara.  The Commission MUST adopt the LCP in order for the County to assume permitting authority which is vital for the continued enjoyment of equestrian activities in the Coastal Zone of the Santa Monica Mountains. 

Ben is Zev's Planning Deputy and the primary political link from our community to Zev and the County bureaucracy.  He and Planning Department staff will be at the meeting to answer your questions. Date: Friday, March 21-- at 6:30 PM.  The location of the meeting is to  be announced.

Even though Regional Planning approved the Los Angeles County Local Coastal Plan, concern is brewing that ambiguities in the 800 page document might burden equestrians with regulations that might have the effect of banning horse-keeping.  Equestrian groups and environmentalists backed the LCP because they thought it was supportive of horse-keeping. Were they deceived? Two documents disseminated by Ruth Gerson, head of the Recreation and Equestrian Coalition is causing folks to wonder:

Local Coastal Program, LCP WHITE PAPER MARCH 7, 2014

The Los Angeles County LCP is basically a way to ensure that there are no horses in the Santa MonicaMountains in 20-30 years for you, your kids and grandkids. There was so much misinformation, ambiguity, contradictions and other negative aspects in the document that it was difficult to read and sort.

It was represented to us that we would only have to go to the County for CDPs, coastal developmentpermits, and that was one of the reasons we supported the LCP. However, that is not true. Any use that is not principally permitted is appealable to the California Coastal Commission. Equestrian facilities and uses are not considered a principally permitted use in any zone. And, while every equestrian CDP can be appealed to CCC, the LCP gives opponents a discounted fee to bring the appeal. It is amazing that the only principally permitted use in the new Resort Recreation Coastal Zone is a low impact campground.

The LCP required all equestrian facilities to use “wildlife permeable” fencing that cannot have more than3 rails nor be higher than 48 inches. However, that was changed; and not all fencing has to be “wildlife permeable” and the height is okay up to 6 ft and the rails are negotiable. Fencing was to be wood in some sentences, not wood in others, non-flammable in some, and a mixture throughout the document.

Since agriculture was prohibited, we insisted that horses be removed from the definition of agriculturewherever it was prohibited; and that was done. They are also not considered pets. Their livestock definition includes horses, mules and all equidae.

The County does not understand the word “boarding” for horses. They think it just means to feed thehorse, as people receive board and room. Boarding is what allows many who do not live in the SMMNational Recreation Area to have their horse cared for and kept near access to public trails and lands.

Boarding includes feeding and also many other important aspects relative to caring for horses. Further, itshould not matter who owns the horses. LA County has always allowed 8 horses per acre, and that should not have been changed to reduce the number of horses based on phrasing of “area available.”

Lighting restrictions of a 4 ft height limit and a 60 watt bulb are totally unsafe around livestock.

And finally, do you know any lender who would subordinate your mortgage as part of a deed restrictionto LA County?

REC’s Comments - Local Coastal Program, LCP March 7, 2014

The coastal zone in the Santa Monica Mountains extends five miles inland and encompassesmuch of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The Los Angeles County LocalCoastal Program (“LCP”) will regulate land use in the portion of the National Recreation Area located in the coastal zone.

In 2006, Los Angeles County proposed a LCP that was vetted through a series of workshops atthe County Regional Planning Commission. Through that process, the equestrian community was able to work out provisions that protected equestrian facilities and use in the National Recreation Area. As a result of that process, the Recreation & Equestrian Coalition and other equestrian groups supported the LCP at the County Board of Supervisors in 2007.

Then there was seven years of silence. We now know that during that time, the County wasnegotiating behind the scenes with the agencies and anti-equestrian organizations on a new plan that would eliminate equestrian facilities and uses in the National Recreation Area. The equestrian community was not consulted.

On January 9, 2014, without any advance notice, the County released a new LCP, with almostfive hundred pages of complicated and overlapping new regulations that are aimed to driving equestrian facilities and uses out of the National Recreation Area. When it was released, the County told the equestrian community that it was the same plan we supported in 2007. Based on what the County told us, we reaffirmed our support.

Then we began to review the LCP and discovered it radically differs from the 2007 draft LCPin ways the County failed to disclose. The new LCP has a complex set of highly restrictive provisions that few, if any, existing facilities can meet. Every existing equestrian facility that does not comply with the new restrictions must be removed or phased out under the new LCP. Indeed, the LCP creates a new “resort-recreation” zone in the National Recreation Area, where the only principally permitted use is low impact camping. None of the existing equestrian facilities that support equestrian recreational access to the National Recreation Area comply with this new LCP.  Plus, the LCP contains exorbitant fees and fines for any equestrian use that violates the LCP.  The LCP openly talks about raising funds through these fees and fines to force landowners to “sell” their land at deeply discounted values using the money from the fees and fines they are imposing on the landowner under the LCP. In other words, the LCP will force non-compliant equestrian property owners to pay the County the money the County will use to buy their property!

Although the groups that oppose horses had months to look over the LCP and work with the County to come up with layers of regulations to restrict horses, the County gave the equestrian community less than a month to review the LCP and comment. The County refused to give the equestrian community more time. While the County agreed to some changes, we discovered that the changes the County agreed to make to protect horses are negated by other provisions buried elsewhere in the LCP.

The County is now rushing to have the Coastal Commission approve the LCP in April. Clearly the County is trying to push the LCP through before equestrians can organize. The process has certainly been rigged against equestrians.

The equestrian community needs to organize now to achieve three basic objectives:

1. All existing legal established equestrian uses and facilities must remain legal, conforminguses that are not subject to the new policies in the LCP designed to eliminate equestrian uses.

2. Existing equestrian uses and facilities that are not legal must be allowed to become legal conforming uses under the LCP at a reasonable cost, not a punitive cost.

3. The LCP must allow new equestrian uses and facilities and the anti-equestrian regulations (including mandatory 100-foot setbacks from drainages, mandatory 100-foot setbacks from habitat overlays, and restricting equestrian uses on 3:1 slopes) need to be revised to accommodate new and existing uses and facilities. This will require an all out effort. We need manpower and money for our lawyer andconsultants to help us stop the LCP at the Coastal Commission. What the County and the Coastal Commission adopt in the LCP will inevitably been extended to the rest of the National Recreation Area. We are fighting for the survival of equestrian uses and facilities in the National Recreation Area.

Ruth Gerson, President

Recreation & Equestrian Coalition - REC

PO Box 245 Agoura Hills, CA 91376


In rebuttal to these assertions, Los Angeles County Zev Yaroslavsky posted on his website:

Posted at 2:22:03 AM
Comments: 2
everyday on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 8:05 AM

Great post. Thanks!
mARY lOUISE on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 11:32 AM

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