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Boost for Valley efforts

Robert Chacon

Rep. Adam Schiff’s three-year effort to designate thousands of acres

of local open space as parkland got a boost this week when the Senate

approved a sister measure.

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The Senate on Thursday approved Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s version of

the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Act, a bill that would require

the federal government look into the possibility of adding 500,000

acres of open space -- including portions of the San Gabriel and

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Verdugo Mountains -- to the Santa Monica Mountains National

Recreation Area.

Schiff introduced the bill in the House three years ago, but it

has stalled each time.

“For the Senate to take such quick action is a wonderful sign that

will put more pressure on the House to pass the bill,” he said.

The legislation would direct the Interior Department to conduct a

$500,000 study to help evaluate the impacts to wildlife, endangered

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plant and animal species and private landowners if the land was added

to the recreation area.

The Rim of the Valley stretches from the eastern boundary of the

Santa Monica Mountains to the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, and includes

open space above Glendale, Burbank, La Canada Flintridge and La

Crescenta.

Under the legislation, Interior Department officials will report

their recommendations to Congress within three years. The act would

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require a subsequent act of Congress to designate the new addition to

the U.S. Park System, to which the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation

Area belongs.

The move is an effort to preserve regions of open space while

urban growth gobbles up much of Southern California.

Blessed with a mild Mediterranean ecosystem, Southern California

has attracted developers and residents since the 19th century,

pinching wild areas between encroachment by developers, according to

the National Park Service.

Local city and town councils have supported the study, and both

the La Canada Flintridge City Council and the Crescenta Valley Town

Council have been vocal proponents of the study.

“This is a hot issue for people all across the foothills,” said

Sharon Raghavachary, a member of the Town Council. “People think we

have a lot of available land up here, but we see more and more that

we are losing bits and pieces. That needs to be addressed.”

The council voted in March to send a letter of support to Schiff

in favor of his legislation.

Preservation of open space and vistas was also strengthened this

week when the Los Angeles City Council gave preliminary approval to

limiting the size of homes property owners can build in Tujunga and

Sunland.

A final vote will be conducted next week to determine if the

measure will become law.

Under Los Angeles’ anti-mansionization ordinance, homeowners with

lots 8,000 square feet or less could not build homes larger than

2,400 square feet or 40% of the lot, whichever is greater.

Some opponents of the preservation study fear that private

landowners will have their rights trampled, but that is not the case,

Schiff said, adding that the study includes the needs of private

landowners.

QUESTION

What do you think of the proposal to add the Rim of the Valley to

the Santa Monica Mountains National Conservation Area? E-mail your

responses to burbankleader @latimes.com; mail them to the Burbank

Leader, 111 W. Wilson Ave., Glendale, CA 91203. Please spell your

name and include your address and phone number for verification

purposes only.


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