For Immediate Release
August 21, 2002
Contact: Dash Stolarz
(323) 221-9944 ext.198

Santa Monica Mountains Open Space Preservation Measures Overwhelmingly Approved by Property Owners

Los Angeles, CA – At a public meeting today, the Governing Board of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) certified the results of its recent open space preservation measures for the Santa Monica Mountains.

The measures were proposed after concerned residents asked the MRCA to develop a local solution to acquire and forever protect many of the remaining open space lands in the mountains that are currently threatened by development. The MRCA proposed two open space preservation measures: District 1 for the areas in the Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills (the mountains east of the 405 freeway to Griffith Park), and District 2 for the area in the Santa Monica Mountains west of the 405 freeway and within the City of Los Angeles.

Local property owners in the Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills decided, by mailed ballot, if funds should be raised locally to:
  • Acquire many of the last remaining open space, wildlife areas and nature lands in the Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills and preserve them for future generations
  • Create additional parklands and trails
  • Protect important habitat and wildlife corridors in the Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills
  • Prevent excessive development and traffic by forever protecting undeveloped properties
  • Regularly clear dry brush and excess vegetation to reduce the risk of local wildfires
These measures will raise approximately $25 million in local funds, which will be combined with matching funds from the MRCA to create a total pool of over $32 million for open space acquisition and preservation. In addition, the measures will generate annual funding for brush clearance to reduce fire hazards.

The District 1 funding measure received support from 77.3% of the weighted ballots returned, and District 2 received 68.1% support of weighted ballots. (Since this type of mailed ballot assessment measure is decided by all property owners, including business and apartment owners, who are excluded from voter measures, and each ballot is weighted relative to the amount of proposed open space assessment, a weighted majority vote is required for passage.) These results demonstrate that an overwhelming supermajority of property owners support these local open space preservation measures.

Upon announcement of the ballot tabulation results conducted by an independent tabulation firm, the Board approved the open space preservation assessment districts. This annual open space assessment, which is $40 per single-family household, will begin in the 2003-04 fiscal year. The annual brush clearing that will be funded by the assessments will begin after the collection of the first revenues in fiscal year 2003-04.

Given the success of the measures, the MRCA looks forward to beginning the process of determining which open space lands and wildlife corridors are the highest priorities for preservation, and acquiring these important public resources.

The Open Space Preservation Assessment Districts were designed to raise local funds that would be used to acquire and preserve lands in the same area from which they were acquired. Individual acquisition areas were established in each district (five in District 1 and four in District 2) to ensure that moneys raised in each area would only be spent in those areas for the specific purpose of protecting local open space lands. Furthermore, the MRCA will create an independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee to annually review the budget and open space properties targeted for acquisition.

The measure was enthusiastically endorsed by hundreds of homeowners groups, organizations, public officials, and residents within the mountains including Congressmen Howard Berman, Brad Sherman and Henry Waxman, State Senator Sheila Kuehl, Speaker Emeritus Robert Hertzberg, Assemblymembers Paul Koretz and Fran Pavley, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Los Angeles City Council Members Tom Labonge, Cindy Miscikowski, Jack Weiss and Wendy Greuel.

Jerome C. Daniel, Chairman of the MRCA, stated that “through this ballot measure, a super-majority of property owners have indicated that they support this local solution to preserving open space in the Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills. This measure will pay off many times over for our quality of life and our environment. While we have always known the majority of residents support the protection of open space in the Santa Monica Mountains, the overwhelming support demonstrated by the passage of these measures gives MRCA a clear mandate to protect many of the remaining undeveloped lands in the area.”

The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority is a public agency of the State of California exercising joint powers of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Conejo Recreation and Park District and the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District. To date, the MRCA, in conjunction with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, has preserved approximately 41,000 acres of open space, parklands and wildlife areas.

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