Don’t fence us in


    Guess who wants to come to your Thanksgiving dinner and wants to stay over forever. California mountain lions have been invited by the California Coastal Commission (CCC) staff to join you, your family, pets, etc. Your “guest” will likely be accompanied by bobcats, coyotes and other predators if the CCC’s gorilla-like Local Coastal Plan (LCP) has its way. You are at risk of being required to rip out your security fencing and replace it with wildlife permeable fencing in your yard. This scenario is planned for you if you live by a canyon in areas like Point Dume, and/or next to “natural” fields of mustard and other weeds or by sagebrush, sumac trees in areas like Malibu Park, Ramirez Canyon, Carbon Canyon, Big Rock, etc.

    You are at risk of having your yard being re-defined as being in an “Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area” (ESHA) or adjacent buffer area. In this way the CCC can exert a whole bunch of new requirements to effectively take away your land without paying for it. The LCP staff has complained that “about 54 percent of the undeveloped area resides in private ownership” including Malibu and the adjacent Santa Monica Mountains, and using a new, controversial biology theory, they want it all to revert back to chaparral or sage. They want the California mountain lion to reign supreme not only in all the parkland, but also in our yards.

    Therefore, all up and down the rural coast, the CCC has begun an all-out assault against coastal orchards, vineyards, nurseries, ornamental landscaping and home gardens and landscapes. They want to restore native plants in as many areas on a lot- by-lot basis and by city and local area plans. They have begun to require homeowners to remove ornamental, vegetable and fruit trees and bushes in order to get repair or remodel permits. Likewise, they are requiring landscape plans with native plants for new home and lot permits. They are also not allowing any agricultural permits in rural coastal areas where they think native plants and “natural” weeds are nearby. The only areas that they feel should be allowed as agricultural are flat, tilled lands like in Oxnard or Watsonville.

    Another extreme CCC view is that best management practices (BMP) cannot control run-off pollution from homes, farms, corrals, barns, sheds, pastures, greenhouses and the like. Therefore, their solution is not to allow these improvements to be built ever, or to be rebuilt even if they are destroyed by fires or other natural disasters. A double standard is employed when they allow BMP in the hotels and other visitor serving buildings that they want built.

    Order your copy of the draft LCP, staff report and testimony transcribed so far to see for yourself 805.641.0142. Talk with your friends, neighbors, and government representatives. The coastal commissioners have just opened the door to discussion and negotiation. Now is the time to find out what their staff LCP is all about and make specific recommendations on how and why to change it. Only then will we reach a workable LCP that will improve safe access and allow safe preservation of our natural environment.

    Dr. Jeff Harris