QUEST RANCH vs. THE NORTH AREA PLAN
It’s been almost 10 years since Los Angeles County repealed the high-density, antiquated zoning that had been established many years before to pave the way to convert the Santa Monica Mountains into an extension of the big-city urban developments that fill the floor of the San Fernando Valley today.
The County formed a broadly-based citizens’ committee which proceeded to draft a new zoning plan—the North Area Plan—based on the principle ―Let the land dictate the use. Applying this principle to the rugged ridges and canyons and steep, winding mountain roads of the Santa Monicas meant that most of the mountains ended up being zoned for very low rural housing densities.
For example, after Topanga Canyon Boulevard reaches the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains at Topanga Summit, it then winds down the mountainside in a series of tight, looping ―hairpin curves through steep hillsides covered with combustible chaparral and sage and designated a ―very high fire hazard severity zone (Fire Zone 4). Not surprisingly, the North Area Plan zoned these steep, wooded, fire-prone, unstable mountainsides for very low rural housing densities.
Land fronted by one of Topanga Canyon Boulevard’s particularly tight hairpin curves is zoned for only one house per two acres. This is Quest Ranch, recently purchased by a Florida developer who seems determined to ignore the North Area Plan in order to rearrange 277,000 cubic yards of earth (instead of the 5,000-cubic-yard grading limit allowed in the North Area Plan) and remove 94 oak trees, all to make room for four three-story buildings containing a 285-bed assisted living facility that will require 310 parking spaces and dump all the traffic generated by hundreds of patients, employees and visitors to this urban, institutional facility onto a blind hairpin curve in Topanga just south of Mulholland.
County staff tried to tell this out-of-state developer about the requirements of the North Area Plan, but he brushed them aside and told them he planned to ignore the Plan and file for the development he wanted instead.
This is a reprint courtesy of the Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation, Inc (LVHF.org)