December 17, 2014

New Mayor Sets Priorities

Mayor Illece Buckley Weber
On December 2, Agoura Hills got its first female mayor since Louise Rishoff took the helm 16 years ago. Illece Buckley Weber was sworn in by Louise while family, friends and an enthusiastic crowd that filled the council chambers looked on.

In her first speech as Mayor, she spelled out the priorities she would pursue in her first term. A number of them are consistent with the mission of Agoura Hills Tomorrow. At the top of her list was the need to conserve water and to improve water quality in our creeks. She pledged to "explore funding options" to improve storm water runoff.

To reduce water use, Illece plans to rely on educating people about the benefits of native plants. "70% of the water in our region is used outdoors. We can lower that percentage. Here is one way: Agoura Hills is the gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains. I advocate that we open the gate and bring the Santa Monica Mountains into Agoura Hills. We can do that with the planting of natural habitat and native species that are complimentary and attractive to our homes."

Beautification of the city was also a priority. The Medea creek naturalization project from Kanan Road to Chumash Park will be the highlight of this effort. "This project is a win for water quality, a win for wildlife and a win for our residents who will be able to access and enjoy its beauty." In addition, Illece plans to continue and expand "Community Service Day" initiated by then Mayor Bill Koehler and expand the annual "Creek Clean Up Day" to encompass other parts of the city. Beautification will also include a street-scape plan for public medians and right of ways, and a fresh look at lighting and sign ordinances.

Illece also pledged to find ways to bolster the City's Cultural Arts Council by broadening community involvement and exploring a Cultural Arts Council signature event. She has also pledged to continue close cooperation with the Las Virgenes Unified School District and has joined the LVUSD Superintendent's Advisory Council. Buckley Weber rounded out her speech with a commitment to seek progress on the Agoura Village plan. "I expect to see more progress and will do whatever I can to bring our vision of Agoura Village to fruition."

December 1, 2014

Wildlife Board Approves Funding for Phase 1 of Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing

On November 20, the California Wildlife Conservation Board unanimously approved $650,000 in voter-passed grant funds to complete Phase 1 of the planned safe wildlife crossing of the 101 freeway at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills. This project was triggered by the recent death of a male mountain lion that tried to cross the freeway from north to south, but was struck by a car and killed. That lion would have brought much-needed new genetic material with him to

stem the inbreeding that has been documented by the National Park Service because of the barrier created by the 101 freeway that has isolated lions in the Santa Monica Mountains from unrelated other lions. The ongoing road kills of deer, coyote and other small mammals attempting to cross have made it clear that for the safety of both wildlife and of drivers on the freeway, something must be done.

Phase I will begin with Caltrans replacing and relocating fencing to keep wildlife off the freeway and force them to the improved underpass. Some adjustments to the traffic lanes underneath the freeway will create a wide dirt path that will be re-vegetated with native plants and create habitat and cover to entice wildlife to continue from the open spaces on one side of the freeway to the other.

The unanimous support from the Wildlife Conservation Board was surely influenced by the huge groundswell of support from the community. The Board noted that they received more than 60 letters/emails in support of this application – apparently a record number, so you made a huge difference!

It is estimated that the Phase I improvements will be completed by mid-2015. Phase II will then begin, which is a proposed wildlife naturalized crossing over the freeway itself just west of Liberty Canyon. These are being used with great success in other states and in Canada. A major public/private fundraising effort will be required, but the National Wildlife Federation has stepped up and will help lead that effort. In the meantime, securing the funding needed for the Phase 1 undercrossing is reason to celebrate!

November 7, 2014

Your Support Needed for the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing

The following message is from State Senator Fran Pavley:

Underpass at Liberty Canyon
 "Our urban parklands are bordered by major freeways that make it nearly impossible for mountain lions and other wildlife to cross safely into new territories. Without free movement, our wildlife is threatened with the loss of genetic diversity, territorial disputes, and unfortunately, the dangers of crossing multilane freeways.

In order to address the dangers of urban encroachment, a growing group of advocates, including the National Park Service, Caltrans, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, City of Agoura Hills, National Wildlife Foundation, Santa Monica Mountains Fund and many more, have envisioned a two-phased approach for a wildlife corridor at the 101 in Agoura Hills.
Looking North from Liberty Canyon Underpass

For Phase 1, the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains has submitted an application for a $650,000 grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board to fund wildlife crossing enhancements at the existing 101 and Liberty Canyon under crossing. These enhancements will include vegetation cover, fence removal, and riparian restoration. Click here to view the full project description.

Portion of Underpass to be Enhanced for Wildlife Passage

The grant application for Phase 1 of the wildlife corridor will be considered at the November 20th meeting of the Wildlife Conservation Board. You can support this first phase of wildlife crossing enhancements by submitting a letter of support for the project to Mr. John Donnelly, Executive Director, California Wildlife Conservation Board, 1807 13th Street, Suite 103, Sacramento, CA 95811. Click here to view a draft letter of support for your use. Please submit your letter by November 16, 2014, via mail or email to and cc If submitting via email only, please note in body of email to ensure the letter is printed and included in the project record.

Your continued support of wildlife crossings in the Santa Monica Mountains is appreciated. Phase 2 of the wildlife crossing will look at options available to create a wildlife crossing to span the 101. Should you have any questions about Phase 1 or 2 of the project, please contact Kara Seward in my District office at (818) 876-3352."

Fran Pavley

October 28, 2014

Your Vote is Important

We are writing as eight former Agoura Hills mayors who have created This is a community blog formed to share a little of our historical perspective on activities and decisions being made that impact our city, and as a place where residents can engage and share back their ideas on what the vision for Agoura Hills, tomorrow, should be.

With a General Election coming up in just days, however, we are reminded that in the 2013 City Council election, only 18% of residents who were registered to vote, actually did vote. It is concerning that 82% did not go to the polls, essentially giving away their vote to those very few people who came to the polls and voted..

The upcoming election will decide who will represent you in the Federal, state, and local government, and who will judge in our courts. Ballot propositions will determine issues related to water quality and storage, the rates you pay for health insurance, and whether Indian casino gaming will be allowed off-reservation, among others.

We hope you will make the time to study and inform yourself on the candidates and ballot measures, and that you will participate in this most important of obligations of citizenship. Please exercise your precious right to vote on Tuesday!

Information about statewide measures can be found on the Secretary of State's website at

(Former Agoura Hills Mayors Ed Corridori, Jack Koenig, Dan Kuperberg, Darlene McBane, Fran Pavley, Jeff Reinhardt, Louise Rishoff, and Joan Yacovone.)

September 20, 2014

Agoura Village

What is "Agoura Village" and why should you care?

Agoura Village was the subject of a “design brainstorming” effort lead by the City and a consulting team in 1997 -98 that resulted in a “Village Concept Plan” embracing a pedestrian-friendly,
vibrant, and entertainment-oriented village-scale vision for the area around Agoura and Kanan Road.. To support this vision, a special overlay zone, Agoura Village Overlay District–AV, was developed for the Village as an interim solution to prevent inappropriate uses from developing until a detailed plan could be developed.

That was the beginning of the "Agoura Village Plan,"  a planning document which spells out the development requirements for a specific part of the city. In this case the Plan area runs along both sides of Agoura Road, from one block west of Kanan Road to approximately two blocks east of Cornell Road. Roadside Drive and Highway 101 border much of the area to the north and open space borders the south. It is the most prominent undeveloped parcel left in our city. 

The Agoura Village Specific Plan area is the southern gateway to the city and the northern gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains. It is an area that, once developed, will forever define the character of Agoura Hills. The Specific Plan was finally adopted in 2008 after years of careful planning and unprecedented community involvement. It became clear early on that the residents wanted a pedestrian oriented village, a small scale, mixed use area that would become a gathering place and a fitting "Gateway" to the Santa Monica Mountains. The demand was for places like Ladyface Ale Company that utilize outdoor dining and take advantage of the views, rather than look-alike chain businesses that dominate in other cities.The Village area would be a place friendly for people, not dominated  by cars and parking lots.

The crash of the economy in 2008 brought a halt to most development in our area. Although the specific plan was in place, no developers came forward with plans to build within Agoura Village. Today that has changed. With the economy heating up, several developers have come forward with proposals to build within Agoura Village. Many of them will want us to change the standards so they can build what they want, and as intense and dense as they want instead of adhering to the Agoura Village Plan. We are concerned that piecemeal development that begins to nibble away at the “village” concept, will quickly turn our “gateway to the Santa Monicas” into just another commercial center that can be seen anywhere. Our identity as a city that takes the presence of the Santa Monicas at our southern edge as its reference, respecting the views of the rolling hills, heritage oaks, unobstructed ridgelines and night skies may quickly be lost to just another commercial strip.

We urge our readers to be involved and attend the "Agoura Village Study Session" planned for 4:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, September 23, at City Hall.

You can read about Agoura Village Specific Plan on the city's web site. We have provided a link  HERE to take you to the adopted plan.

September 13, 2014

Agoura Hills Creek Clean-up Day

Medea Creek clean up will take place Saturday the 20th from 9am-12pm on the corner of Agoura Road and Kanan. The event is sponsored by Heal the Bay and the city of Agoura Hills and is part of coastal clean-up day. Coastal Clean-up Day is the largest volunteer day on the planet with participants world-wide picking up trash and other unnatural debris from their local coasts, river, creeks and watersheds. Last year in Los Angeles County there were over 10,000 participants.

Volunteers removed 1.76 tons, or 3838 lbs of trash from the Medea Creek area last year.

August 27, 2014

Local Coastal Plan Passes!

A week ago, we let you know that this important planning document containing historic protections against overdevelopment for the coastal areas of the Santa Monica Mountains would be up for a vote by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.  We asked for your support, and thanks to a massive turnout by residents who value these beautiful mountains, the Local Coastal Plan has been adopted.

Special thanks are owed to our outgoing County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky for his tireless dedication to keeping the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area a wild and beautiful place.  He would not let the well-funded special interests despoil our fragile mountains with inappropriate and commercial development, massive grading of hillsides and ridgelines, and an unjustifiable and unsustainable demand in this historic drought on scarce water that would have been accessed only by drilling deeply into the ground to empty the aquifers.  The vote on Tuesday was a triumph, and a great day for the Santa Monica Mountains that are so iconic to our community.  Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen!

August 22, 2014

Local Coastal Plan Up for Final Approval

The Santa Monica Mountains Local Coastal Plan (LCP) has gone through various stages over the past couple of years fueled by the support of many including readers of this blog. You wrote letters, went to meetings, and some even rode the bus to Santa Barbara for the Coastal Commission Hearing. Your support made this landmark planning document possible.

It is now time to push this plan across the finish line. As you know, there are those with special interests who will be at the upcoming hearing on Tuesday, August 26th to try and keep this plan from being approved and signed.  IT IS IMPERATIVE TO HAVE A SHOWING AT THE UPCOMING HEARING SUPPORTING THE LCP. If you have not already done so, send a letter to the Supervisors (see below, Action Item #1), and go downtown next Tuesday, August 26th ( see below, Action Item #2) for the public hearing.

Please join your fellow activists in supporting the LCP by coming in person to the LCP Hearing. You need not speak; however, it's important to sign in and check "VOTE YES". It may take only a couple of hours or so of your time (including drive time). Of course, you are welcome to speak and stay for the entire proceedings.


Subject: Santa Monica Mountains LCP --- PLEASE VOTE YES ON THE LCP
Sign with your name and address.

Date: 9:30 AM on Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Place: 500 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, 90012 Board of Supervisors Hearing Room, 3rd Floor

July 24, 2014

A Wildlife Crossing in Arizona

          Thanks to Council Member Harry Schwarz for sending this video.

June 11, 2014

Regional Bicycle Master Plan Seeks Input

The Regional Bicycle Master Plan is asking people to take a survey that will help them to design bike paths that will connect Agoura Hills and other cities in our region. This plan is an excellent idea and we congratulate the city for its part in the planning process. The website for the plan is RegionalBikePlan.Org.  You can find a link to the survey on that site, or click HERE.

The Regional Bicycle Master Plan is a collaborative effort of the Las Virgenes-Malibu Council of Governments and other agencies to promote bicycling as a safe and attractive transportation choice. The Plan is supported by a Sustainability Planning Grant from the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). Agoura Hills is a member of both of these planning organizations.

The Regional Bicycle Master Plan also includes the cities of Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Malibu, and Westlake Village. The resulting individual city bike plans will allow the five cities to apply for state grant funds to implement projects and programs that will improve the safety of bicycle riders in the region and increase the number of people choosing to ride for a variety of reasons.

Riding a bike for commuting, running errands, recreation, or physical fitness is fun! Other significant benefits include improved personal health and environmental sustainability. The overall transportation system can function more smoothly if riding a bicycle is made to be a safer and more attractive option, because traffic congestion would decrease. In addition, economic benefits are often realized through families’ reduced reliance on automobile ownership, reduced health care costs for society, and increased community vitality.

We won’t see the comments that you will be sending in, but we’d love to know how you feel about this new regional effort. Please take another minute and add a comment back to us with your thoughts. Thanks for being a part of this planning process.

June 9, 2014

More on Creeks

A view of Palo Comado Creek along Agoura Road
A few of weeks ago we posted an article about restoring the concrete channeled creeks in Agoura Hills to natural creek beds. See “Creek Restoration” posted on March 5. A section of Medea Creek east of Kanan Road is already slated to be restored and will be a welcome improvement to Chumash Park. Of course, as we point out in the article, there are miles of other concrete channels in the city that should eventually be restored.

Restoring creeks to their natural creek beds is 
only part of what should be done to improve water quality, restore habitat areas, and provide for attractive pedestrian areas throughout the city. We also have to insure that existing creeks within our parks and open spaces are free of pollution and reasonably accessible for people to enjoy.
Palo Comado Creek west of Lewis Road

Lindero Creek enters the city from Ventura County in the northwest section of the city. It flows past Yerba Buena elementary school, through city owned park land and into Lake Lindero. From Lake Lindero, it flows over the dam that created the artificial lake and into a culvert which takes it south east, under the 101 freeway. It daylights just south of Agoura Road and flows south until it joins up with Malibu Creek, south of the city. Except for the lake and the underground culvert, Lindero creek retains a natural creek bed.
Outflow of Lindero Creek south of Agoura Road

A portion of Lindero Creek upstream of the lake is on city owned property slated for a nature park. Plans for the park include trails and outdoor fitness equipment. The part of Lindero Creek that is south of Agoura Road flows through private property and is within the Agoura Village Specific Plan area. The Specific Plan insures that the creek will remain natural and also encourages its use as an amenity to any development on the property.
Lindero Creek south of T.O. Blvd.

Plastic bag in Lindero Creek

As of today, however, the creek in this area has become a major pollution problem. The creek here is largely hidden from public view. Off and on over the years, transients have used the area for overnight encampments. As a result, the creek bed is strewn with glass and plastic bottles, plastic bags, fast food containers, and debris of all kinds. Worse, the area has been used as an outdoor toilet, putting dangerous bacteria into the water. The Sheriff’s Department will periodically clean out these encampments and, once a year, the city’s Earth Day activists pick up a lot of the litter in the area. But it is not enough.

Transients continue to return to this area and continue to make it a health and safety risk for the community. It is time for a permanent solution to the problem. The city is planning to install a water cleaning system at the outflow of Lindero Creek immediately south of Agoura Road. This will help to clean the water up to this point in the creek. Additional measures are needed to insure that the water downstream of the outflow remains clean. Here are some of the steps we urge the city to take as soon as possible:

1. Join L.A. County and other cities in the area and ban single use plastic bags.

2. Initiate a regular weekly patrol of the creek and remove transient encampments immediately when they are discovered.

3. Place trash receptacles in strategic locations to encourage proper disposal of litter.