Photo credit: Sherry Kempster
The adopted Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Corridor ordinance becomes operative May 18, 2019
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors held a hearing on the Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Corridor project on March 12, 2019 and approved the project, after making the following revisions:
- Include a revised definition of “surface water feature” in Article 2 of the ordinance to increase the development buffer from 100 to 200 feet;Include a revised definition of “surface water feature” in Article 2 of the ordinance to increase the development buffer from 100 to 200 feet;
- Include the Tierra Rejada Valley in the Critical Wildlife Passage Areas overlay zone; and
- Exclude all properties located within the Los Padres National Forest from the Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Corridors overlay zone.
The Board of Supervisors also directed Planning Division staff to develop a subsequent project to create an overlay zone for the purpose of regulating development near wildlife crossing structures on private property within the Los Padres National Forest.
The following documents and maps are available here.
- Final Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Corridor Ordinances (Ord. 4537 & Ord. 4539)
- Map of the Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Corridor overlay zone
- Map of the Oak View Critical Wildlife Passage Area
- Map of the Simi Hills Critical Wildlife Passage Area
- Map of the Tierra Rejada Critical Wildlife Passage Area
- Final General Plan Amendment text (Resolution 19-15 & Resolution 19-16)
County staff is currently working to integrate the Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Corridor map into the County’s publicly-available GIS map. Until then, an interactive map showing the Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Corridor boundaries, the Critical Wildlife Passage Area boundaries, wildlife crossing structures, and surface water features is available. Use the symbols in the upper right-hand corner of the screen to add map layers, access the map legend, query by Assessor Parcel Number, and pull up the basemap gallery.
Interactive map showing the Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Corridor Map is available HERE.
January 31, 2019 Planning Commission Hearing
On January 31, 2019, the Ventura County Planning Commission considered both the proposed General Plan Amendment and the proposed Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance (NCZO) revisions at a public hearing. After the public hearing, the Planning Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve the NCZO and General Plan amendments subject to the Planning Division addressing the following issues before presenting the project to the Board of Supervisors:
- The program needs to have a clearly communicated appeals process for resolving the inevitable complications of individual properties and also have mechanisms for revisions to the program.
- Request the Ventura County Sheriff to review security issues regarding the program’s lighting standards
- Clarify the effect of the program on properties that have granted conservation easements.
- Clarify what effect the vegetation modification regulations have on the Fire Department brush clearance requirements and fire risk.
- Clarify stream bed mapping where it may be incorrect.
- Consider including the entire Boeing, Santa Susanna Field Lab land in the HCWC overlay zone and adding exemptions for temporary cleanup actions.
- Reduce set back of waterways from 200 to 100 feet in order to assist ranchers and farmers.
- Remove Lockwood Valley from the entire ordinance.
- Remove Tierra Rejada from CWPA overlay zone.
- Revise vegetation modification exemption to state "as allowed by” instead of “as required by” the Fire Department.
- Modify vegetation modification exemption to include all bona fide conservation efforts.
Planning Commission Agenda for January 31, 2019
Wildlife corridors connect fragmented patches of habitat. The main goal of a corridor (also referred to as a linkage) is to facilitate movement of plants and animals through dispersal and migration. The fragmentation of natural areas within Ventura County due to development patterns limits the ability of plant and animal populations to disperse and move to areas they need for survival. Within natural resource management and conservation communities, this issue is considered among the most urgent of biological resource concerns. Wildlife biology specialists consider the maintenance (or enhancement) of existing habitat connectivity linkages, or connections between large, natural areas of protected habitat, as well as the native vegetation linkages within such corridors, as essential to ensure the future health of the County’s natural resources.
The removal of native habitat or the construction of buildings, roads, and fences can either degrade or eliminate the functionality of a wildlife movement corridor. Currently, the County’s regulatory structure does not incorporate review standards and General Plan policies that would fully protect the viability of these corridors. For example, the General Plan provides only one broad biological resource protection goal that mentions protections for wildlife corridors. The General Plan provides no supporting policies that specifically address development in these areas. In addition, the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance (NCZO) contains no standards that address proposed development in the wildlife corridors. Therefore, no guidance, or regulatory framework, is provided in the County’s existing planning documents to protect these resources.
A thoroughly researched project (the South Coast Wildlands Project, 2006), which mapped wildlife corridors through Ventura County, was prepared and is used throughout Southern California (including Ventura County) as a standard resource for the evaluation of environmental impacts during the environmental review process for discretionary development. The mapped corridors from this study provide the basis for discussion regarding potential development regulations in these areas to protect the habitat and wildlife corridors. Reports can be accessed at the following website:
For an overall review of the South Coast Missing Linkages Regional Report (Summary)
For the detailed report on the methods used to develop the linkage design for the Santa Monica-Sierra Madre Connection.
For the detailed report on the methods used to develop the linkage design for the Sierra Madre-Castaic Connection.
Prior Actions taken by the Board of Supervisors
In 2015, the Board of Supervisors took two actions regarding habitat connectivity and wildlife corridors. First, the Board approved a consultant contract for the Comprehensive General Plan Update (GPU) that included consultant work on the “wildlife corridors” program. On November 10, 2015, the Board elected to complete this project ahead of the GPU schedule and directed staff within the Long-Range Planning Section to include this project on its priority list.
Since, that time, staff prepared a series of regulatory options, reviewed those options with wildlife biology experts, and prepared recommendations regarding measures that will protect the wildlife corridors. These options were presented to the Board of Supervisors on January 24, 2017. The Board selected Option 1 and directed the Planning Division to develop a set of policies and development standards within these areas.
The Board letter and exhibits, including a map of the corridors are posted on the County Board of Supervisors Agenda website here. The corridor map is shown as Exhibit 1.
The Planning Division hosted three meetings to receive stakeholder input on habitat connectivity and wildlife movement corridors. Key topics for discussion included issues related to fencing, lighting, native vegetation removal, and maintaining corridor widths - all of which are important to wildlife movement.
- August 8, 2017 Meeting Presentation is attached here.
- August 8, 2017 Meeting Notes are attached here.