Canyon News
Explaining the Value of Measure HH
By Joann R. Deutch
Oct 25, 2012 - 1:29:41 PM

LAUREL CANYON—It’s not by chance that there is so much open green space along the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains.  The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority [MRCA] has as a mission acquiring land, taking it off the marketplace for commercial development.  In the hills, that land is incorporated into the Wildlife Corridor which runs throughout the Santa Monica Mountains.  Over the years they have partnered with locals and taken title to parcels of land which we all enjoy as trails and parks.

Do you live in the area covered by Measure HH on the 11/6/12 ballot?


In Fryman Canyon that proved to be a 10 + year struggle to keep the canyon out of the hands of developers.  MRCA has recently been involved in two significant local causes.  One is the long standing effort to acquire six acres at the southwest corner of Mulholland and Laurel Canyon.  Paul Edelman, Chief of Natural Resources and Planning [MRCA] just announced that 2 of the 6 acres are now in the hands of the MRCA.  The success has been through the generosity of locals which have given endless hours of volunteerism, along with hundreds of locals who have faithfully made cash contributions over the years to keep the option to buy alive. 


What exactly is a Wildlife Corridor?  It’s land that connects core habitats.  Animals need a habitat to thrive. “Mountain Lions, for example, need 50-100 square miles of habitat.” That’s why there are so few of them around. “A Bobcat needs 1/4 square mile and a Coyote family needs several square miles. Even that’s not enough for long term sustainability. Animals need to find a mate. To maintain a viable breeding population with sufficient genetic diversity, animals must be able to range beyond their normal habitat.”  The corridors are also places of safety from danger, such as fires.  The deer from the Griffith Park fire, found their way through these corridors as far away as Fryman Canyon.


MRCA has been funded by a 20 year property assessment of $19 per year per household.  Now Measure HH on the November Ballot seeks a 10 year $24 per year commitment from the voters to continue its work.  The agency does not get ongoing local or state funding.  It has an active Citizen Advisory Board which demands that all the funds pledged under this Proposition HH will be used locally.  MRCA always buys property at fair market value lest you think they steal it from developers.


Another recent victory by the MRCA involved joining with local activists once again and this time taking on Mohamed Hadid, a developer, who had erected fencing to exclude hikers from an easement which had been used since the 1920s along the upper Hastain Trail in Franklin Canyon.  The battle raged in Los Angeles Superior Court and just last week the Judge ruled that there as an “implied” easement which could not summarily be cut off by the new land owner.  It’s an old law which holds that if someone has traveled across your land, say, to get to the beach, just because someone buys the land, they can’t cut off your right to get to the beach.  That’s why there are Beach Access roads all over Santa Monica and Malibu.


MRCA is also participating in the effort to save the Studio City Golf & Tennis from the development of 220 privately owned senior condos.  This project calls for a regional park that cleanses storm water.  This green project will also recharge underground aquifers to increase water supply and lessen flooding.  The park itself will create an animal habitat and green space for humans to walk, bike and picnic.  The design preserves some existing mature tree canopy, mostly along Valley Spring Lane, while adding native California vegetation.  The 9-hole golf course would be removed, but the driving range, putting area, clubhouse and 16 tennis courts would remain (and could serve as a revenue source for ongoing park expenses.) 


Is $24 a year too much to spend on these types of projects?  You decide by voting on Measure HH which is toward the end of your ballot.  You can only vote for HH if you live inside the mapped area. [see accompanying photo]

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