A quarter of a century after its inception, the final draft NCCP for the Palos Verdes Peninsula is out for public comment and, ultimately, adoption.
In 1996, EHL and local environmental groups met in the offices of the lead agency, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes (RPV), to map a preferred alternative design for the NCCP preserve, some 1550 acres of connected habitat. While the area selected then has been reduced by about 10% in the final design, which had to accommodate all other competing claims on the parcels involved, more than 1400 acres of critical open space is now set to be included in the preserve. The City, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (PVPLC) and private parties have contributed parcels and money to supplement the substantial public funding freed up by the listing of the California Gnatcatcher as a Threatened Species that has gone into the purchase of the bulk of preserve lands.
Overall, this NCCP serves as an example of what can be achieved in good land use planning when it is driven by other than purely economic goals. Its success in the long run will be determined by how well it is managed and how diligently the aims of the NCCP are pursued. Fortunately, PVPLC has been designated as principal land manager to work with RPV in shepherding the preserve into the future. Well supported in the community, PVPLC is financially sound and looks to remain so, a critical element in long-term NCCP success.
Of course, the NCCP is not perfect. There are inholdings, the open spaces of the preserve are heavily used by the public and a large portion of the preserve is in an active landslide, all matters that are potential problems. Offsetting these to some degree, the California gnatcatcher appears to be thriving, and the NCCP does impose restrictions on development within inholdings and requires PVPLC to restore a minimum of 5 acres of habitat per year. However, without the NCCP, it would be quite easy to imagine large portions of the preserve already having been converted to high-end housing, with all its attendant ills.