The Los Angeles City Council took a step Friday toward creating wildlife corridors in the eastern portion of the Santa Monica Mountains where developers may be required to set aside space for animals to pass through.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz. Photo by
Councilman Paul Koretz said the proposed policy is aimed at making it easier for wild animals to co-exist next to urban and residential areas in Los Angeles, with the proposed regulations limiting development activity in areas designated as a wildlife corridor.

The proposed rules would bar the issuance of building or grading permits unless the developer promises to preserve wildlife habitat connections on their properties, as well as “require easements and deed restrictions in perpetuity to protect wildlife habitat connectivity,” according to the motion approved today.

With the approval of the policy, “the City Council will be telling our famous mountain lion, P-22, and all the other deer and foxes, raccoons, bobcats and coyotes that they are a vital part of our urban environment,” Koretz said.

Koretz said that the corridors would benefit animals such as P-22, which once moved into a crawl space of a Los Feliz home for a brief stay and more recently took the media spotlight when he was suspected of slipping into the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park and killing a koala.

Other mountain lions have met unfortunate fates as a result of their encounters with the urban environment, with one dying from exposure to rat poison and another that was struck and killed in August by a car while crossing a freeway.

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Executive Director Joe Edmiston on Friday responded to concerns the proposed regulations would “impose undue burdens on developers” by pointing to wildlife corridors in other areas, where he said development has not been completely halted.

“Developers can move over a little so that animals can have their pathways,” Edmiston said.

Activists with Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife who are pushing for the wildlife corridor rules say animals are unable to pass through some privately owned areas because they are now fenced off and often resort to going into urban areas or residential neighborhoods.

The planning department and city attorney’s office will begin crafting the language for the ordinance, as well as identifying areas to include in a “potential regional wildlife habitat linkage zone.”

It was unclear today how much area a wildlife corridor would affect and when the draft language of the ordinance will be brought back.

— City News Service

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