‘Mountain Maneuvers’

Your editorial “Mountain Maneuvers” (March 4) has to give your readers concern about your views of the proper role that local government should play in the acquisition of lands for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Stripped to its essentials, The Times is advocating that in this case, the county should have used its zoning powers to restrict the use of private property so that the National Park Service could buy it more cheaply for the park. Knowing that this would be both illegal and unethical, and knowing that county counsel so advised the board, The Times nonetheless argues that we could have gotten away with it if we tried hard enough. That is outrageous!

Nowhere in the editorial was there any discussion of the merits of the proposed project. No mention was made that existing zoning originally would have permitted as many as 2,500 homes. No mention was made that when I took office in late 1980, the current General Plan would have permitted up to 234 homes on the property and that in 1981 the board, on my motion, voted to adopt an Areawide General Plan that further reduced the allowable densities on the property. No mention was made that the board’s action on March 2 simply corrected this error while retaining the property in a rural classification.

No mention is made that prior to approving the project, we made several changes to the design, such as requiring the applicant to delete developable lots so that a continuous and substantial open-space buffer would be provided along the entire southern border with the park. Nor do you acknowledge that this project of less than one home per two acres is very similar to other existing developments in the area.


The bottom line is that when I first took office in 1980, the property could have been developed to as many as 234 homes. Today it is limited to only 150, or less than two-thirds of the 1980 allowance.

The Times would better serve its readers if it spoke out on the meager funding provided by Congress each year to fund the acquisition if it truly was concerned about the future of the park. I wonder whether The Times would support the down-zoning of its Tejon Ranch property if it should be sought in the future as a federal park. I wonder.


Supervisor, 5th District


Los Angeles County