Both the General Plan “2035” Update and the Antelope Valley Area Plan (AVAP) were adopted, and include historic improvements in land use as well as some flaws.
The 2035 plan, which covers all the County except the northern portion subject to the AVAP, incorporates expansion of Significant Ecological Areas (SEAs) as well as density reductions for this high value habitat. These lands are also usually unsuited for development due to location distant from infrastructure and services. It also creates new Transit Oriented Districts.
EHL submitted comments on the 2035 plan and as a result, there is a strong policy for avoidance of resources within SEAs as well as greater consideration for wildland fire hazards. Disappointing, however, were deferral of SEA expansions in three locations, pending anticipated community planning. Rather, these natural resources should have become a constraint for development planning.
EHL’s suggestion for a transfer of development rights program to shift growth away from natural lands was incorporated as an action item, and we look forward to this project. In a related matter, controversial revisions to the SEA Ordinance, which guides where and how development occurs within SEAs, were postponed to a future date.
The AVAP was reported on in the Winter 2015 EHL Newsletter. During final adoption in June of 2015, the last minute changes to the plan made in November of 2014 by the Board of Supervisors were better defined. Significant Ecological Areas (SEAs) were rolled back by a total of 21,271 acres. The rollbacks were ostensibly to reduce conflicts with “Economic Opportunity Areas (EOAs),” but these are vastly over-scaled, totaling the size of six Pasadenas. The EOAs have strayed far from their original intent of focused employment generation near transit.
Also, almost bizarrely, the final adoption exempted 90,393 acres with these EOAs from basic policies to protect public safety, farmland, and the environment, including exemptions from fire, flood, earthquake, and landslide hazard considerations, groundwater, wetland, and hillside protection, and open space requirements. However, the attempt to exempt many subdivisions from the SEA Ordinance on over 200,000 acres of land was put off to a later date as a result of guidance from County Counsel.
While unfortunate, these adverse changes do not negate the huge benefits of density reduction in habitat and rural areas and the overall expansion of SEAs.