Editorial: If we want wildlife to thrive in Los Angeles, we have to share our neighborhoods with them

No one knows exactly how a young male mountain lion resting near a country club on a busy street in Brentwood arrived last month. But he probably left a hillside perch, and made his way through a residential neighborhood, and then across San Vicente Street. Had he never been spotted (and calmed down and returned to the Santa Monica Mountains without incident) he would probably have wandered under the cover of trees, waited at night and then back into the hills.

Although mountain lion sightings during the day in an urban neighborhood are rare, Los Angeles is brimming with wildlife. For decades, development over open spaces and hillside habitats has jeopardized the existence of California mountain lions and other animals and plant species. Now, the city is creating the first wildlife law that will comprehensively regulate development to protect Los Angeles’ biodiversity.

Eight years ago, City Councilman Paul Kuritz submitted a proposal calling on the Planning Department to draft a wildlife ordinance. When funding for this effort was finally allocated to the department three years ago, it began working with ecologists, the Santa Monica Mountains Sanctuary and community wildlife advocates, including Citizens for Wildlife Los Angeles, to strike a balance between allowing new construction while ensuring the survival of the Wild animals that live on this land.

On November 17, the ordinance goes to the Planning Commission, which can recommend approval to the Los Angeles City Council or request changes before doing so. The city council has to vote for it to become law.

the proposal decree It will create a wildlife area in the Santa Monica Mountains, between 405 and 101 Highway that includes neighborhoods in Studio City, Hollywood Hills and Bel-Air. Within that area, the city will determine the amount of space that can be covered with structures, the height of the homes, the type of outdoor lighting, and landscaping required. The law also addresses the types of fencing materials that are allowed, so animals don’t get injured, and window treatments that are over a certain size to discourage animals from running into them.

The goal is to conserve and improve the habitat so that the animals can travel through these areas easily without being blocked or harmed, and to have farms that are fire resistant and compatible with the environment as well as provide food for the animals.

The decree It will only apply to new construction, extensive rebuilding of existing structures or the addition of 500 square feet or more. The wildlife area could be expanded in the future to include other areas of the city with populations of wildlife and plants to be protected.

The proposal faced opposition from some hilltop residents who say they love wildlife — “I have 10 bird feeders on my property,” one homeowner said — but who saw the decree as an infringement of property rights.

it’s not. The proposed law places reasonable restrictions on private land located in sensitive habitats to protect the wildlife and biodiversity unique to Southern California. In fact, some wildlife experts argue that the current proposed law is not as strong as it should be.

The planning department initially suggested that all homes and other structures on parcels in the wildlife area be restricted to 50% of the lot. However, the owners of small plots of one family complained loudly that compliance with them was too cumbersome. Therefore, in the current draft, the administration has exempted smaller single-family plots, which make up about 6% of the 23,000 acres within the proposed area.


Experts who have spent years studying wildlife contact paths through this region say it’s the smaller packages that, once built, can close off the last remaining wildlife path or trail. This would undermine what the city should be trying to do, which is to assist in the movement of animals through this entire area.

The Wildlife Act is a necessary tool to conserve biodiversity in the hillsides where it is diminishing. The only way to do that is to make sure you don’t over-build these habitats. This means some restrictions on land use. Los Angeles is not the first region to establish a wildlife law. Ventura County passed One In the past few years protecting part of the county.

If there are no pathways for wildlife movement and if excessive excavation of dirt to build bigger and taller homes erodes the slope of the hillside, we slowly destroy wildlife habitats. For those people who worry about what this will do to their property values ​​- isn’t open space, trees and wildlife a convenience in these communities?

Animals must be able to live among us and cross our neighborhoods and spaces, without and without endangering us.

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