Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Legislation Moves Forward in California Senate

May 26, 2020

Contact: Shannon Flaherty
(775) 315-6831

Sacramento, CA – The work of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy preserving open space in the Santa Monica Mountains would be made easier with a bill that just passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

The legislation, proposed by Senator Ben Allen, would save the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) time and resources by cutting red tape and allowing for more direct coordination between Conservancy staff and property owners during land encroachment negotiations.  

Currently, the Conservancy is required to endure a costly, time consuming state approval process to address relatively minor issues such as landowners building driveways or swimming pools on Conservancy land. The Conservancy often seeks to make the process easier for landowners if a mutually-agreeable solution can be found. An example of this would be the process of transferring a parcel of Conservancy land in question to the landowner in exchange for another larger parcel of land that will be held in perpetuity for public trust and that better suits the public-serving mission of the Conservancy. Under current law, Conservancy staff must navigate a complicated state process to do even simple and mutually beneficial land swaps – often costing SMMC more than the original land’s worth.

Senate Bill 1380 would give increased flexibility to the Conservancy to address such issues and act on its own if the value of the property interests in question are less than $500,000. Other land conservancies operate with similar flexibility. The Tahoe Conservancy has the authority to acquire property valued under $550,000 and both the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy have authority to acquire property valued under $250,000.

“Now more than ever, Angelenos are appreciating the value of fresh air and open space,” said Senator Allen. “The people of California have entrusted the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy with the task of preserving and protecting open space in our mountains for generations to come. This bill saves taxpayer dollars and makes it easier for the Conservancy to do its vitally important work.”

SB 1380 passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee on a bipartisan 7-0 vote. The bill will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Ben Allen is Chairman of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee and Co-Chairman of the California’s Legislative Environmental Caucus. He represents the 26th State Senate District. which consists of the Hollywood, Westside, and South Bay communities of Los Angeles County.