October 16, 2008 § Leave a comment
At last night’s Stream Protection meeting, an elderly gentleman in the audience mentioned a proposed development, Hidden Creek Estates, in Mormon Canyon, which would be annexed by the City to make the development possible. Mormon Canyon drains into Brown’s Canyon, a beautiful perennial stream that is a tributary to the LA River (and apparently source of the LAR Navigable Waters Jurisdication Determination kerfuffle – well the owner of Brown’s Canyon, that is). Both were hit by the recent Sesnon fire.
Hidden Creek Estates proposes 188 homes in a wildlands area, apparently re-grading hillsides of the Santa Susana Mountains to keep the development on higher ground. It would be nice to see developers maintain the natural character of our mountains and canyons, something called landform grading – here it appears the slopes will be levelled and stabilized, on perfectly even slopes. You know, the kind you see around landfills and subdivisions everywhere now.
But this is a creek blog: fortunately it appears that the streams will not be built over, although one small area of the proposed development map appears to grade over one of the streams, where perhaps a bridge could be used. Altering the hillslopes does change the sediment supply that maintains the stream’s channel and habitat, however. The draft EIR proposes Best Management Practices to mitigate runoff, which is great, but we don’t want to cut off sediment altogether either. But what of the wildlife? What we are left with is a conversation of how much more of our biodiversity we can cut into. Remember in Math class, there was this idea that you could infinitely divide something in half, and never reach zero? We are now reaching into the terrain of several 00’s after the decimal. I sometimes wonder how much land wildlife would allocate to us, if they were the planners and developers and we were at their mercy. Would they say, as we do, “well, as long as we preserve a representative population, it’s ok to reduce their habitat. I mean, how many of them do we need to maintain biodiversity anyway?”
Grousing about Hidden Creek aside, at least it doesn’t take the top off a mountain and dump it in canyons, like we see here in this cut and fill diagram for Mountain Gate, in the Santa Monica Mountains above Bundy Canyon in Brentwood. You can view the actual draft and final EIRs here, click on Environmental, Final EIR and scroll to Mountain Gate. While you are at it, scroll on over to the Canyon Hills Final EIR in the Verdugo Hills, which, while preserving one stream, will result in the loss of some of its tributaries, which are noted for their good representation of increasingly rare Southern California riparian (streamside) habitats. Which brings us back to Math class. How many times can we divide 1/2?