Wildlife Ordinance One Step Closer To Final Approval

June 22, 2023 ·

HOLLYWOOD HILLS—A proposed Wildlife Ordinance, created to protect the environment surrounding hillside communities in Los Angeles County, was approved by the Los Angeles City Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) during a meeting on Tuesday, June 20. 

The Wildlife Ordinance, according to Los Angeles City Planning, aims to “support conservation of local plants and animals while building climate resilience, fire safety, and a healthy watershed.”

If passed, it would become effective in a pilot area consisting of hillside cities between Griffith Park and the 405 Freeway, including Sherman Oaks, Hollywood Hills, Bel Air, Laurel Canyon, and Beverly Crest. 

The ordinance details several new regulations concerning development standards for land and houses in these hillside areas. The regulations include lot size, grading and height restrictions, window and lighting requirements, as well as limitations on the landscaping of native trees and plants. 

Fencing materials are also regulated; the use of barbed wire, plastic mesh, concertina wire, and razor wire would be prohibited under the Wildlife Ordinance. All trash would need to be stored inside a building or enclosed area that meets specific design standards set by the ordinance.

Homeowners will not be required to alter existing homes and properties to reflect these rules, and minor renovations would not need to be reported. Only new developments and major remodels will need to follow the regulations set forth by the Wildlife Ordinance. 

Mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes are among the animals that are known to walk through properties at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains. A goal of the ordinance is to preserve natural habitats and wildlife corridors as well as prevent harm to animals that frequent hillside areas.

The ordinance was unanimously backed by PLUM Committee members at the meeting on June 20.

“Over the last few decades we’ve seen development in the hillside scale out of proportion, resulting in unsafe conditions not only for wildlife but also for people,” said Council and Committee member Katy Yaroslavsky.

Several members of the community spoke out at the meeting to express their opposition to the Wildlife Ordinance. 

“I’m a homeowner in the Hollywood Hills and I oppose the Wildlife Ordinance,” said Brandon Williams. “This is going to greatly impact private property rights; this will greatly impact the value of property.”

Others were concerned about a sizing regulation that would prevent new buildings, additions, or basements from being more than 50 percent of a lot’s square footage.

“Many homeowners have their life savings tied up in their land value and capping below-ground buildable square footage, which does not harm wildlife in a meaningful way, would be devastating to their property values and put many of them in challenging financial positions,” said Archie Obani, a resident of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Should the Wildlife Ordinance pass and prove successful, the city plans to expand the boundaries to other areas of Los Angeles in the interest of wildlife protection.

In the next step of the finalization process, the Wildlife Ordinance will be voted on by the full City Council. 

By Paige Strickland

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