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County proposal to make all of Topanga an "SEA" or Significant Ecological Area......pros and cons?

December 10, 2012 06:23PM
L.A. County has a proposal on the table to declare all of the land between the freeway and the ocean, an area of 45,897 acres of mostly privately-owned land, a "Significant Ecological Area" or SEA.

If this proposal is adopted, land owners will be required to obtain a "Conditional Use Permit" or CUP prior to being able to get any building permit.
If you're not familiar with the CUP process, it costs $8,500 to apply for one. That's a non-refundable check made out the the County of L.A. The permit is for a "conditional" use, and it is discretionary. That means they may approve your application, or they may not. Either way, you can expect that they will impose conditions on any approval, and that you will be $8,500 poorer.
The paperwork involved in applying for a CUP requires plans drawn up by an engineer or architect, which can vary widely in cost but expect it will run in the thousands, at a minimum. The cost of hiring an expediter to get you through the process of getting your CUP will not be cheap either, probably in the range of $2,000-$5,000.
There are many more cons, all of which basically amount to significantly driving up the cost of construction and by-products of that, such as lack of jobs and economic stagnation.

Purportedly, the creation of an SEA is to protect a unique and vital environmental resource. Hopefully, this worthy goal will be achieved, but there is a possibility it could backfire. Essentially, the SEA designation is a tax on the construction of homes. Possibly, this will cause fewer people to build- but it might only cause richer people to build, while closing out those who are not as well-heeled. If only the richest people build, as you can imagine, the impact per residence will be greater, as these larger homes will be bigger and more wasteful in general, with more landscaping, more water use, more septic discharge, etc.
Since the one known effect of this rule is that it will make it more costly to build, the most predictable effect is that of gentrification and the elimination of the "economically challenged" from our immediate environment. Therefore, if you consider it a benefit, you will also get to experience the elimination of any "undesireables" (i.e. poor people) from our immediate environment by slowly squeezing them out economically, any the elimination of potential new neighbors who might adversely affect your property value. It will help to keep you protected in a bubble of elitism, safe from the teeming masses.
This regulation will also help to keep noise from construction at a minimum in the canyon, except on weekends.

Read about the newly proposed SEA's here:

Scroll down to "Proposed SEA 22a: Santa Monica Mountains" and you will see an overview.

This should link you the the PDF map of the proposed SEA:

Read the draft ordinance here:
Subject Author Posted

County proposal to make all of Topanga an "SEA" or Significant Ecological Area......pros and cons?

EricR December 10, 2012 06:23PM

Re: County proposal to make all of Topanga an "SEA" or Significant Ecological Area......pros and cons?

TimBuk2 December 15, 2012 05:51AM

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