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Equestrians Say Plan to Protect Santa Monicas Threatens Horse Safety

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, however, approve it anyway.

The Santa Monica Mountains. Patch file photo.
The Santa Monica Mountains. Patch file photo.

By ELIZABETH MARCELLINO
City News Service

Some equestrians today withdrew their support for a zoning plan aimed at protecting the Santa Monica Mountains, but the Board of Supervisors voted to send the proposal to the California Coastal Commission as-is.

The Local Coastal Program, if approved, will allow the county to directly issue land use permits in the Santa Monica Mountains.

As it is now, property owners must go through a two-step process, getting approval from the county and the Coastal Commission.

The board last week voted its intent to approve the plan after dozens of residents and environmentalists, including members of Heal the Bay and the Sierra Club, offered their support.

But today about a dozen of those same supporters told the board that changes they were promised were not part of the written agreement drafted by county lawyers. Others said it was more restrictive than they had expected.

“I'm sorry I supported the plan last week,” said Ruth Gerson, an Agoura resident and member of the Recreation and Equestrian Coalition. She argued that the plan “threatens the safety of horses and equestrians.”

The LCP covers about 80 square miles in the Santa Monica Mountains that stretches about 5 miles inland from the coast and includes hiking and equestrian trails.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who championed the plan, said it was less restrictive and much more horse-friendly than an earlier plan approved by the board in 2007. The Coastal Commission informally rejected that proposal without a hearing.

“Every change we made was a concession to the equestrian community,” including a “path to legalization” for those illegally keeping horses, Yaroslavsky said. “We had an agreement on Monday night of last week ... we've gone as far as we can go.”

But Supervisor Michael Antonovich sided with residents who argued that the issue warranted more public hearings.

“It's better to come from the bottom up rather than the top down,” Antonovich said. “We ought not to exclude equestrians and their legitimate concerns.”

He pointed out that Yaroslavsky was not a rider.

Yaroslavsky, clearly frustrated, asked a county planner to respond to each of the resident's objections and then asked the planner to follow up by documenting those responses in writing.

Antonovich proposed a two-week postponement, but his motion failed for lack of a second.

“The biggest part of this plan is the preservation of the Santa Monica Mountains,” Yaroslavsky said, predicting that 100 years from now only Griffith Park and the mountains will remain as open space. “We're damn sure we're going to protect every bit of it we can.”

The board voted 4-1 to send the plan on to the Coastal Commission. Antonovich dissented.

The Coastal Commission's public hearing on the plan will be held sometime in April. Revisions are almost certain. Yaroslavsky estimated the commission made 60-70 changes to Marina del Rey's Local Coastal Plan.

David Armstead February 20, 2014 at 07:29 PM
When will you people learn that Heal the Bay and others are bad. They consistently are in favor of and fight for total restriction on property and oceans that exclude everyone but their scientists. So the only people who can enjoy the freedoms we all used to have to enjoy our environment we live in and around except for them. Do not support these groups.

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