TASC Newsletter 2013
TOPANGA ASSOCIATION FOR A SCENIC COMMUNITY
P.O. BOX 352, TOPANGA, CA 90290
THE NEW YEAR
Although 2010 seems to have been fairly quiet in Topanga, we have been told by some reliable sources that as the economy continues its recovery we may be in for some very interesting land
disputes in 2011.
One thing our organization did in 2010 is join the Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation. This organization is comprised of a variety of Homeowner groups from all over the Santa Monica Mountains. One of their missions is to preserve the natural beauty of the mountains. Our Board felt it was important to join up with this esteemed group of dedicated residents.
SEWERS - OLD TOPANGA ON NOTICE
The portion of Old Topanga that is threatened is just outside of the county’s borders. We have been keeping a close eye on this and have been very supportive of the residents in their fight to keep the community in the rural state it has always been in. The following was taken from the Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation Newsletter:
An EIR scoping meeting for the proposed sewer extension into Old Topanga Canyon was held on November 8 in the Calabasas Civic Center. Leading the meeting were Joe Power of Rincon Consultants and Calabasas City Planner Tom Bartlett. In attendance were more than two dozen residents from the community of three dozen homes.
After a PowerPoint presentation from Mr. Power, comments were heard from attendees regarding impacts of installing 6,400 lineal feet of an 8-inch vitrified clay sewer main along Old Topanga Canyon Road from Mulholland to the county line.
Some asked why there was a need to spend city funds on a costly sewer line if residents comply with the OWTS Ordinance and septic systems are working properly. Others said the EIR should offer a no project alternative. One questioned why sewers are being forced on homeowners without their ever being asked their
The residents expressed concern over preservation of the rich paleontological, archaeological and historical resources in the area. Old Topanga Canyon Road is eligible for national, state and local historic landscape designation. Originally a stagecoach road to the sea, it has ’til now retained its integrity. Sewers and development will impact that.
A representative from the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains commented on the impacts the sewer and installation of sewer laterals will have on Old Topanga Creek. He stated that the District would be submitting comments in writing.
Several residents expressed concern about the ability to fight—and escape from—a chaparral fire given the intent of the City to build out the neighborhood. Not only local residents, but also those living over the hill in Topanga could be impacted. The Old Topanga Fire of 1993 burned 1,000 acres within an hour, making Old Topanga Canyon Road and Mulholland Highway impassable for residents and firefighters.
Considering the local history of geological failures, one resident asked that the EIR examine the impacts of sewers and overdevelopment for potential slope failures. There was also concern expressed over impacts of earthquakes on a clay sewer line. One resident asked how a sewer might affect development of the steep
canyon at the end of Dorothy Road and was assured by Mr. Bartlett that these legal lots were designated open
space and would never be developed without a vote of the people.
Others asked about the 200-plus acres of open land between Old Topanga, the Calabasas Highlands and the crest of the mountain. They were told these lands were not included in the study area. Why not? Many observers believe the sewer extension is nothing short of a land grab, turning useless lots into priceless ones. With Calabasas taxpayers paying for a sewer line down Old Topanga Canyon Road, developers will have an easy time hooking up to a full-size sewer line.
The last day to submit comments on the EIR was November 18,2010 with an anticipated release of the draft EIR for public comment in January or February. Public hearings on the final EIR before the Calabasas City Council should happen in the spring.
Along the ridgeline at the top of Old Topanga Canyon Road (known as Calabasas Peak motorway) there is the threat of 4 large spec homes being planned. This project is working its way through the permitting process. We are being told that the developer of these homes may ask for a variance on the ridgeline ordinance that is in place. This ordinance was created to protect the ridgelines from development. It will be interesting to see what comes out of that request. There will be a community scoping meeting that will be required by the county for the developer to come and explain to everyone how this project would be beneficial.
When the meeting is scheduled, the community will be informed and everyone will have a chance to be heard.
The latest word is that the developer who would like to move 277,000 cubic yards of earth and destroy 94 oak trees in order to build an assisted living facility with four three story buildings, 285 beds, and 310 parking spaces on forty-some acres on a tight hairpin turn on Topanga a few hundred yards south of Mulholland, is moving ahead with his “request” for the project, in spite of considerable and growing community opposition and a near-complete lack of conformity to the County’s North Area Plan, which designates the hillside property for low density rural residential uses. Access would be on a blind curve, and the property is in a Class 4 fire hazard area, making evacuation of 285 elderly residents in a brush fire problematic, to say the least.
County Regional Planning staff has been reviewing the proposal. As most residents in the canyon know, there was a “scoping meeting” held at the community house about a year ago. At the meeting we were given information about the project and are now waiting for an environmental impact report to be completed. Once it is done, it is a public document that will be reviewed and commented on by all concerned parties.
In addition, the developer has been informed that there is a substantial ancient landslide on the property and that it extends onto the nearby Alice C. Stelle Middle School property and onto a private parcel in the adjoining City of Calabasas. Removal of that landslide will add considerably to the cost of the development and destroy a wooded hillside.
We are watching this situation very closely.
THE HEALTHY OAKS ORDINANCE
Los Angeles County has proposed a Healthy Oaks Ordinance ( HOO) to be part of the Oak Tree Permitting process. When it was heard at the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Board, TASC along with the Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation and others made public comments.
Our position was that it is an unnecessary document rife with loopholes that could weaken and undermine the existing Oak Tree ordinance.
Although the described rationale for creating the amendment and exemptions was to: 1. Eliminate the significant cost and waiting period to obtain a permit, 2. To solely maintain oak resources for health and safety purposes - we saw that the language was very broad and could be used by some to damage and destroy our precious oak tree resources.
The Regional planning board voted 4 to 1 to approve the document. Hal Halsley (Zev’s representative) was the one dissenting vote. Those of us that were not happy with the outcome asked to work on modification of the document before it went to the Board of Supervisors for a final vote.
Over the course of this past year TASC along with other community groups have been meeting with LA County Forestry to better shape the document. As of this writing this process is still ongoing.
NEW 101- ACRE PARKLAND
The Mountains Recreation and Conservation authority recently bought open space that connects with a network of trails near Summit Valley Ed Edelman Park. The principal trail is the Summit-to-Summit road, a historic fire road that joins the Calabasas Peak Motorway on the west side of Old Topanga Canyon Road eastward to the Henry Ridge Trail and ultimately to Topanga Canyon Blvd.
CALABASAS CITY COUNCIL
Watching what is going on with the city of Calabasas and their quest to bring sewers into the
Calabasas portion of old Topanga canyon road, our board felt it was in Topanga’s interest to look at the candidates who are running for council seats. It is at this time that we are endorsing Lucy Martin. Lucy is a twelve year community activist and the president of the Mullwood Homeowners Association. She has proven herself to be a friend of the environment and is very concerned over the potential for the movement to urbanize a very rural area on the Santa Monica Mountains.
She is not a lawyer or an incumbent or an issue-specific activist. She is a local mom, wife and volunteer whose kids grew up in Calabasas and who is passionate about serving that community. Some may know her as their daughter’s Girl Scout troop leader; or as a team captain for the city’s annual Relay for Life; or as an ASL translator for the deaf at school events; or as the lady who serves up the Snack Shack hotdogs at Calabasas High football games. Working with and for the community is what Lucy does, and TASC would like to see her continue in that spirit of service and as a force for positive change at Calabasas City Hall
NEW TASC BOARD MEMBERS
There is an opening for three new board members. If you are interested in coming on to the Board of TASC please send your inquiry to: email@example.com. Our board will review the request and get back to any potential applicant.
WE INVITE YOU TO JOIN TASC
Since 1963, TASC has been committed to the orderly development of Topanga and the Santa Monica Mountains in keeping with the natural terrain and intrinsic beauty. We are a nonprofit, grassroots organization funded by donations from the community. We thank the people of Topanga for all the
support they have given us for the past 47 years.
During this past year, TASC has been involved in a variety of important issues. In brief, we:
1. Testified at L.A. Planning Commission hearings on development issues to follow
the guidelines of the North Area Plan
2. Helped remove the invasive plant arundo in Lower Topanga.
3. Consulted with representatives of the LA County regarding the drafting of a new
Local Coastal Plan.
4. Participated in the design phase of the Topanga Public Library. .
5. Currently monitoring a proposed housing development at Quest Ranch .
TASC has accomplished much, but still more needs to be done. We invite you to join us or renew your membership. Please use the form below.
One year Membership: $15 Individual $20 Couple Donation: ________
Please send remittance to TASC, P.O. Box 352, Topanga, CA 90290. Thank You!
TOPANGA ASSOCIATION FOR A SCENIC COMMUNITY
P.O. BOX 352, TOPANGA, CALIFORNIA 90290
TOPANGA ASSOCIATION FOR A SCENIC COMMUNITY
P.O. BOX 352, TOPANGA, CA 90290
The TASC Newsletter
Community Input Is Vital!
CAL TRANS AND POISON
For over a year TASC has been involved with the Ad Hoc group dealing with the issue of the use of poison herbicides along the roadside of Topanga Canyon Blvd. Together, TASC, The Topanga Watershed Committee under the leadership of Ben Allanoff, Joseph Rosendo, President of the Topanga Chamber of Commerce, Stacy Sledge, President of the Topanga Town council, Cal-trans officials and our elected representatives, developed a solution insuring that there will no longer be any poison used by Cal Trans along the Boulevard in Topanga. Alternative methods of brush clearance include mechanical and hand cutting as well as the use of mulch. Homeowners along the Boulevard can elect to
remove the brush themselves.
OUR SCENIC HIGHWAY
TASC has always believed that Topanga Canyon Blvd, Hwy 27 was more than a concrete ribbon connecting the Valley with the PCH. TASC joined with the Topanga Chamber of Commerce and The Topanga Watershed committee in requesting that County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky present the Board of Supervisors with a resolution to grant the Topanga portion of Hwy 27 official scenic highway designation from Caltrans. The resolution was presented and we are moving forward. A timeline will be developed and community input will be solicited within the next few months. TASC was informed by Susan Nissman of Zev’s Office, that Caltrans is specifically looking for scenic “Viewshed” qualities.
TASC encourages all residents of the Topanga Community to join us in securing this designation for our “main street.” This is a community effort that will require a community commitment. We all enjoy and want to preserve a beautiful and scenic Topanga. A clean and pretty boulevard benefits all residents and businesses, whether their address is on the Boulevard or not. TASC feels strongly that this community enhancement will be best served if we all accept some responsibility for our roadway. Contact TASC to see how you can help and let us know if you have any suggestions or questions. TASC’s long history in serving Topanga has been made possible by this wonderful community. We appreciate and seek your input and support as we continue the
work to keep our community the unique physical and cultural environment that we all cherish.
Below is a link to the Caltrans website http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/LandArch/scenic/guidelines/scenic_hwy_guidelines_04-12-2012.pdf
Along the ridgeline at the top of Old Topanga Canyon Road (known as Calabasas Peak motorway) there is the threat of 4 large spec homes being planned. This project is working its way through the permitting process. We are being told that the developer of these homes is asking for a variance on the ridgeline ordinance that would allow for the placement of these homes directly on the ridgeline. This ordinance was created to protect the ridgelines from development. TASC believes this request for a variance has the potential to set a precedent concerning the actual enforcement of this ordinance throughout the Santa Monica Mountains and should thus be closely monitored. A requirement by the County has always been to have an EIR(Environmental Impact Report) to influence the permit process. This report should be ready for public view and comments later this year. No matter where one lives in Topanga, this issue will have an impact on the mountain views.
OUR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE
Off of Old Topanga Road in the city of Calabasas, there is an area commonly referred to as “The Hairpin Turn”, a cement driveway leading to four parcels that may be developed in the very near future. One of the parcels sits on top of a Significant Ridgeline. A seven thousand square foot house is being planned for that site. One of our concerns on this potential development is weather or not the city of Calabasas is concerned with Los Angeles County’s Ridgeline ordinance and the North Area Plan. As in the case above, TASC believes that the practical implementation of the Ridgeline Ordinance is again at issue and could have a broad impact concerning the ability of this ordinance to protect the scenic character of our mountains.
PROPOSED GENERAL PLAN- UPDATE
Of extreme importance is the coming update to Los Angeles County’s General Plan. This plan will guide the county into the future on the issues of development, transportation, air quality, flood hazards, fire, noise levels and many other issues that pertain directly to the beauty and quality of life in the Topanga Community. TASC believes this update is of EXTREME importance to all of us, regardless of the size of your home or its location. Representatives from LA County will be encouraged to speak to Topanga about the future impact. We plan to sponsor a community meeting on this subject in the near future.
Your input is vital!
For 50 years, TASC has been there, expanding parklands, influencing legislation and informing Topanga of the inevitable changes on the horizon so that we may help guide them towards the preservation of the better aspects of life in the Santa Monica Mountains. More needs to be done. The near future holds many potential development threats, legislative challenges and critical elections.
Please join us or renew your membership. Help us to keep Topanga informed and proactive! Let us know what is important to you. Please use the form below or sign up via our web site:
Your e-mail address will allow us to better keep you informed of issues we are tracking.
All memberships will be valid through December 2014.
Membership: $15 Individual $20 Couple Donation: ________