Wildlife Corridor Regulations
UPDATE: Planning Commission hearing rescheduled to October 25
The County of Ventura has released its long-awaited first draft of the Wildlife Corridor ordinance. The proposed ordinance will impose complicated and wide-ranging restrictions on:
Structures including houses and barns
In some areas of the county, it could even compel property owners to give up half their land to wildlife passage.
To find out if your property is in the Wildlife Corridor: Go to the County’s GIS website. In the menu panel on the left hand side, click the “Layers” tab at the very bottom. Select “Parcels” and “Planning GIS” on the list of layers. You will see a map of Ventura County with the wildlife corridors superimposed on it. You will need to zoom in to find your property and see if it is in the corridor.
The draft ordinance subjects 164,000 acres of unincorporated county lands to a myriad of new regulations by turning a regional wildlife corridor map into a new overlay zone. While we support reasonable efforts to minimize impacts to wildlife movement, we believe many of the proposed regulations are extreme, that most wildlife in Ventura County have adapted to movement within and around developed areas and that the critical barriers to wildlife movement are our major highways including the 126, 118, 23 and 101 freeways as well as the large connecter roadway network. Most of the open space, agricultural and even residential communities have regular sightings of a variety of wildlife including coyotes, bobcats, skunks, raccoons, deer, rabbits, badgers, owls, bats, kingsnakes, lizards etc. The more remote parcels regularly report seeing bears, mountain lions and woodrats.
The new Wildlife Corridor Overlay Zone places extreme restrictions on enclosure fencing and walls, requiring a discretionary permit for new security fencing enclosing more than 10% of your property. This will make it more difficult for people to secure their family and property from intruders.
The current version imposes rules for lighting throughout the Overlay Zone that are even more strict than a Dark Sky ordinance proposed for the Ojai Valley. This version will essentially prevent people from enjoying their property at night, creating a curfew from 10 pm to sunrise without expensive replacement of light fixtures. Lighting, including security lighting, will be restricted to 60 watt bulbs during curfew hours without a motion sensor. Lighting for driveways and walkways will be limited to 20 watt equivalent bulbs, a light level that will promote accidents for people in back yards, patios, and passageways.
In addition, the regulations ban native vegetation removal within 200 feet of the edge of mapped surface water features with no exhibits prepared yet to show impact areas in the proposed corridors and their proximity to neighborhoods. Rules limiting brush clearance on properties increase the fire danger in communities from wildfires like the Thomas Fire where winds drove the fire into Ventura housing tracts and burned structures, oak trees and orchards on unincorporated lands across the western county. The fire devastated wildlife populations and habitat – in fact, mountain lions that are injured by fire rarely survive in the wild. The eastern county has many communities that are a target of these regulations and limiting brush clearance in these neighborhoods will endanger the health and safety of the residents.
Most disturbingly, the county will require property owners in three areas designated as Critical Wildlife Passage Areas (Tierra Rejada Valley, Oak View and Simi Hills) to draw a line down the middle of their property and forbid them from building new structures (such as homes or barns) or establishing new uses (such as pools and landscaping) on half of their property, without a discretionary permit requiring an expensive environmental analysis. In the Bell Canyon residential subdivision, any new development on existing lots over 1 acre in size will have to comply with these compact development standards.
If you are concerned about the impact of this ordinance to your property, please bring your questions to the VC CoLAB Wildlife Corridor Meeting on Thursday, August 23 at the Moorpark Community Center. Also, please do not hesitate to email Sean Paroski at email@example.com for more information.
The Ventura County Planning Division will be presenting this version of the Wildlife Corridor Overlay Zone at the October 25th Planning Commission meeting at the Hall of Administration Building at the County Government Center at 800 Victoria Avenue in Ventura at 8:30 AM. YOUR ATTENDANCE AT THIS MEETING WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE to the Planning Commissioners and these regulations can be improved by your participation including speaking and/or submitting comments.
Thank you for taking the time to visit our website.
Lynn Gray Jensen, Executive Director