December 9, 2016

Rancho Simi Acquires Alamos Canyon

Alamos Canyon (326 acres) has been transferred from Waste Management to Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District.

Like the recently celebrated 71-acre Fran Pavley Meadow on our eastern city limit, this is another key acquisition toward a protected open space connector for hikers, bikers, equestrians and wildlife all the way from Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains to the Simi Hills and beyond.

Rancho Simi will construct a trailhead parking lot and a connecting trail from Oak Park County Park to Alamos Canyon Road/trail. This will allow trail users to cross the railroad tracks using the park’s official crossing station.

The transaction took about 2.5 years from the time that The Nature Conservancy initiated the process.The result is the preservation of very important habitat which also serves as a natural buffer between the communities of Simi Valley and Moorpark. Rancho Simi’s ownership of the property also ensures maintenance and park ranger staff protection of the property.

Our local region is again seeing the benefit of the voter approved bond funds expended last month for the 71 acre Chesebro Meadow in Agoura and this month for the acquisition of Alamos Canyon  in the Simi Valley area. There is yet another acquisition on Monday night's Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy agenda of 95 acres in dry creek in the Calabasas area.  Protected open space benefits wildlife, recreational uses, and helps to reduce sprawl and protect our air quality and our watersheds. The Wildlife Conservation Board and Natural Resources Agency, The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl were partners in most of these acquisitions.

November 23, 2016

A Rural Wildlife Crossing, not a Freeway Bypass

As former Agoura Hills mayors we have always recognized the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and wildlife as part of our city’s identity and key to its semi-rural character.

Mule Deer Spotted South of Agoura Road
 Near Location of  Wildlife Crossing
Our wildlife is endangered by the barrier created by the 101 freeway. For mountain lions, this has led to inbreeding that puts their very survival in jeopardy. Many have been killed in attempts to cross the 101. As top predators, their presence maintains the balance of other species in the region such as deer, coyotes and others.

We strongly support a wildlife crossing over the freeway and Agoura Road near Liberty Canyon. It will also serve as a connector from the ocean to the inland mountains for hikers, bikers and equestrians. Construction will be funded with private grants, although Caltrans and other agencies have partnered in design and environmental studies.

 Agoura Road Near Proposed Wildlife Bridge
At the October 26 Council meeting, city staff commented on a design all other parties, including Caltrans engineers, environmental scientists and cycling enthusiasts, approved. Staff recommended a larger, 64-foot wide overpass with more impacts, including oak tree removal and disturbing a natural stream. This used standards for a “primary freeway bypass,” not our two-lane rural road through protected open space and wildlife habitat.

We oppose widening Agoura Road beyond the city's General Plan -- a maximum of 48 feet wide. Any plans the city has for adding sidewalks or bicycle paths in this rural area are unrelated and should be deferred. Building out Agoura Road as a freeway bypass will create a commuter shortcut with higher speeds, jeopardizing wildlife and the peace of adjacent neighborhoods.

After hearing public concerns, we were pleased with the Council's direction for staff to work with the overpass design team and return with a project consistent with the actual need and General Plan.

This matter has rested with the city for months; fundraising and other "next steps" have stalled. We ask the city to support the 48-foot option before the end of the year so there is no further delay. As with all formal environmental review processes, there will be future opportunities for comment.

November 19, 2016

MRCA Names Meadow After Fran Pavley

In addition to the announcement that the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) had acquired the Chesebro Meadow, Joe Edmiston, Executive director of the MRCA, also announced that the Meadow was now to be officially named "Fran Pavley Meadow."  The Meadow, a significant part of the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Corridor, is a fitting tribute to retiring State Senator Fran Pavley. Fran, the first Mayor of Agoura Hills, leaves a legacy of environmental accomplishments and leadership that has left an impact locally, statewide, and on the entire world.

Our heartfelt Congratulations and Thank You, to our first Mayor, our retiring State Senator and our incomparable friend, Fran Pavley.

November 16, 2016

California Wildlife Conservation Board Approves Final Funding for Chesebro Meadow

Former mayor and State Senator Fran Pavley announced this morning that the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved a grant of $3.35 million in voter-passed Proposition 50 funds, completing the $7 million purchase price for the acquisition of Chesebro Meadow, a key parcel on the east boundary of Agoura Hills. 

The property consists of 71± acres of fragile chaparral, coastal sage scrub, native grasslands and oak woodland-savannah habitat, and enhances wildlife linkages and watershed protection while providing future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities.

Long sought by environmentalists as a critical component of the wildlife connection between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Simi Hills, this grant now insures that the wildlife overpass of the 101 freeway, currently in the planning stages, will have the best possible chance of success.

“The property will be acquired to protect the Malibu Creek watershed and to provide key connectivity for the wildlife corridor,” said Senator Pavley. “And we have a willing seller, which was critical for this acquisition.”

We cannot overstate the importance of the role that Senator Pavley played in bringing all the parties together and assembling highly-competitive funding sources. Without her relentless efforts over the past year, it is far from certain that this property would have been saved from development. WCB Executive Director, John P. Donnelly, noted that a letter of support was also received from Agoura Hills’ Mayor, Harry Schwarz.

This puts the City of Agoura Hills one step closer to having a wildlife bridge and fulfilling our city’s identity as “Gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains.”

November 4, 2016

If You Build it, They Will Come

Family of mule deer coming down from the Santa Monica Mountains to Agoura Road to feed on acorns dropped by oaks along the creek. Their path was precisely where the planned Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing of the 101 freeway will be located. Both preservation of oaks and protection of the creek are at issue under one option currently being debated at city hall . We will be posting a more detailed update and some concerns next week. Watch for it.

August 23, 2016

Poles Tell "Story" on Agoura Road

Story poles have been erected on the south side of Agoura Road at the western end of the city. They show the outlines of the proposed senior apartment project, "The Park at Ladyface Mountain Senior Apartments." The proposed project will be heard by the Planning Commission on Thursday, September 1, at 6:30 P.M. at City Hall.

We have some concerns about the use, size and density of this project, located at the base of Ladyface Mountain.The project consists of two three-story buildings with a total of 46 apartments and a separate 3,004 sq. ft. senior recreation center. The buildings are 34 feet in height, right up against the road. . There is a total of 104,138 sq. ft. of building on 7.1 acres. The project requires an amendment to the Ladyface Mountain specific plan to allow a residential use. It also requires multiple variances to reduce front, side and rear yard setbacks and to increase the height of retaining walls.

The story poles give Agoura Hills residents a good opportunity to visualize what the project will look like before the Planning Commission makes its decision. The height of the buildings and their proximity to Agoura Road are of particular concern, since they require a variance. The height of the retaining walls is also a concern, since they also require a variance. The project also requires the removal of 30 oak trees and encroachment into the protected zone of 35 oak trees. In addition, the applicant is requesting two monument signs instead of the one which is allowed.

We urge you to take a ride on Agoura Road to see the story poles and determine whether you believe that this is a reasonable plan for the foot of Ladyface Mountain. If you have concerns, please take the opportunity to send them to the Agoura Hills Planning Commission at City Hall, with a request that they become part of the report that the Commission will review before making its recommendation.

August 9, 2016

Camera Catches Bear in Santa Monica Mountains

Evidence of a black bear in the Santa Monica Mountains was discovered Tuesday by National Park Service employees. The researchers were reviewing photos from two camera traps set up in Malibu Creek State Park to monitor for wildlife movement and came upon images of the mammal dated July 26.   

The Santa Monica Mountains have not had a resident bear population since the 1800s, when grizzlies were extirpated from California. Since then, black bears have settled in the mountains bordering the north end of Los Angeles, including the Santa Susana and San Gabriel Mountains, but it is extremely rare for a black bear to be found south of the 101 Freeway.

Stories and evidence of bears in the area do occasionally surface, however, such as the one killed in 2014 on a 101 Freeway off-ramp in Westlake Village. A wildlife crossing is proposed for neighboring Agoura Hills after research on local wildlife has indicated the need for habitat connectivity between the Santa Monica Mountains and open space to the north. In particular the small mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains has some of the lowest known genetic diversity anywhere in the west. During the course of the 14-year study, researchers have documented only one occasion when a mountain lion has successfully crossed into the Santa Monica Mountains from the north.

“The ecological health of the Santa Monica Mountains depends in part on our ability to maintain natural connections with areas north of the freeway,” said David Szymanski, superintendent for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service.

National Park Service researchers will be checking camera traps around Liberty Canyon, where the wildlife crossing in Agoura Hills is proposed, to see if the bear may have crossed there.

“Malibu Creek State Park is over 8,000 acres of open space and is connected to a much larger network of habitat,” noted Craig Sap, district superintendent for the Angeles District of California State Parks. “If this bear decides to stay, let’s see what we can do to co-exist with it.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife offers tips on co-existing with bears at

June 8, 2016

Here's How the Backbone Trail Came Together

April 21, 2016

City Cuts Ribbon on Medea Creek Restoration

Mayor Harry Schwarz and members of the city council cut the ribbon Thursday morning officially marking the completion of the Medea Creek Restoration Project. The project, the first of its kind in the city, took 430 feet of concrete channel in Medea Creek and restored it to a natural stream bed. Among the first Agoura Hills residents to enjoy the creek was a mother duck and 8 ducklings who were happily swimming in the water, oblivious to the official ceremony on the pathway and bridge above.

From This:
To This:

City Council Cuts the Ribbon

Mama Duck keeps her babies close

Looking upstream from Chumash Park

January 7, 2016

Public Workshop on Park and Recreation Needs

The County of Los Angeles is conducting a county-wide assessment of the need for parks and recreation in both cities and unincorporated areas.  The goal of the Park Needs Assessment is to engage all communities within the county in a collaborative process to gather input for future decision making on parks and recreation.

To assist in this effort, the City of Agoura Hills will host a Park Needs Assessment Workshop on Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. in the Agoura Hills Recreation and Event Center, located at 29900 Ladyface Court in Agoura Hills.   Residents can gain an understanding of the existing park and recreation assets in the city, and provide feedback on improving, expanding, and making these areas more accessible.  Comments received from the workshop will assist the county and city in determining park and recreation needs and priorities.

To view more infomation about this initiative, please visit 

For more information, please contact Amy Brink, Director of Community Services for the City of Agoura Hills, at (818) 597- 7361.