November 5, 2018

City to Hold Scoping Meeting for Draft EIR on Proposed Project in Agoura Village


The City of Agoura Hills will be holding a Scoping meeting on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 6:30 - 8:30 pm, in the Community Room at City Hall to seek community input regarding the preparation of an environmental impact report for a new proposed project in the Agoura Village area of the City. 

This meeting will be focused on the potential environmental impacts of the project and to take comments in regards to the thoughts and concerns of the community with reference to the areas the EIR will analyze under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). City staff will have general information on the proposed development application and will be available to answer general questions about the environmental review process and study areas and will take written comments. 

Please note that this is not a hearing to approve the project or for input on the project design or other issues. It is solely to provide input to the City with respect to environmental review of the project. The public will have further opportunity to comment on the draft EIR once it is prepared.

This meeting will concern the AVE Project in Agoura Village East, southeast corner of Kanan and Agoura Rd. More information can be obtained on the City website: 

September 22, 2018

U.C. Davis Report Identifies Wildlife/Vehicle Collision "Hotspots"

Image result for mountain lion roadkill

Most of us probably never think about the possibility of
hitting an animal as we speed along on our California freeways and roads. But it does happen, and more often than you might suppose. Slamming into a large animal, or even a small animal, at freeway speeds can cause extensive damage and life threatening situations. 

A new report from U.C. Davis, the  "2018 Wildlife-Vehicle Conflict Hotspots Report," attempts to identify the sections of roadway where collision with animals is most likely to happen. According to the report, "Using observations of reported traffic incidents and carcasses the Road Ecology Center estimates the total annual cost (2017) of wildlife-vehicle conflict (WVC) in California to be at least $307 million, up 11% from 2016. The estimated cost could be as high as $600 million if accidents that are claimed to insurance companies (but un-reported to police) were included."

The report states there were 6,411 reported collisions in 2017 (up 11% from the prior year), resulting in 224 minor injuries, 44 major injuries, and 12 fatalities. According to the report, the "risk is greatest when there are more drivers driving fast through or near wildlife habitat, such as the San Francisco peninsula, the Sierra Nevada foothills and portions of Southern California.

Not surprisingly, the report lists the 101 Freeway in the Agoura Hills - Calabasas area as among the most dangerous in Southern California for vehicle-animal collisions.  The report also includes an interactive map which provides real time detail of wildlife-vehicle conflicts on specific segments of roadway. You can access the entire report here:

August 29, 2018

MRCA Acquires 98 acres of Open Space in the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Corridor in Agoura Hills

The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) announced on Monday that it had acquired 98 acres of regionally significant Santa Monica Mountains open space south of the 101 Freeway and west of Liberty Canyon Road, adjacent to open space owned by the City of Agoura Hills and the MRCA. The core habitat and trail access was permanently protected by funds granted by Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The purchase also permanently protects viewshed that will continue to be enjoyed by thousands of motorists on the 101 Freeway every day. 

“This acquisition will create a block of 2,430 acres of contiguous public open space that is not bisected by a single paved road, including 537 acres of parkland currently owned and managed by the MRCA,” said Paul Edelman, Chief of Natural Resources and Planning of the MRCA. “The new 98 acres of open space includes the junction of the greater Malibu Creek State Park core habitat and the Liberty Canyon intermountain range wildlife corridor.”

The MRCA purchased the property with a grant of voter-approved Proposition One funds from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, mitigation funds, and Los Angeles County Proposition A funds granted by Third District Supervisor, Sheila Kuehl.

“I enthusiastically support this significant expansion of open space in the Santa Monica Mountains in order to make sure that this wild and beautiful habitat will be available in perpetuity for the people and animals of LA County to enjoy for generations to come,” said LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

The new parkland permanently protects core Santa Monica Mountains habitat with prime coastal sage scrub and chaparral. The parkland provides critical linkages for wildlife and people and has good public hiking access from several locations. A USGS blueline stream courses through the heart of the property.

July 26, 2018

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Moves to Acquire Phase 2 and 3 of Triangle Ranch

On Monday, July 23, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) voted a grant from Proposition 68 funds to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) to complete the acquisition of Phase 2 and 3 of the Triangle Ranch. Triangle Ranch is included in Significant Ecological Area (SEA) #6; the 110 acres for these phases in entirely within the SEA. Preservation of Triangle Ranch Phases 2 and 3 will provide a broad habitat connection between the Liberty Canyon wildlife corridor, the proposed 101 wildlife bridge, and the Ladyface Mountain core habitat area. Over 1,300 feet of streambed will be protected, and may offer additional restoration enhancement opportunities.
Phase 1 of Triangle Ranch has already been acquired and Phase 4, which is west of Kanan Road, is the last part of the property that is targeted by the SMMC.

July 1, 2018

Concert for the Cats, 2018
To benefit wildlife research & projects with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Sunday, August 19th  -  6:30PM

Peter Strauss Ranch
30000 Mulholland Hwy. 

Music By
Kiki Ebsen & Julie Newsome, vocals
Josh Nelson, keyboard      Jeff Falkner, bass      Danny Janklow, saxophone      Dick Weller, drums

Wildlife Updates from NPS Biologists
Jeff Sikich      Joanne Moriarty      Justin Brown

Delicious Desserts & Wonderful Wines

Tickets: $100.00 per person

By Mail:
Santa Monica Mountains Fund
401 West Hillcrest Drive
Please RSVP by August 1st
Hosted by Julie Newsome

Tickets and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law through the Santa Monica Mountains Fund

June 6, 2018

Freeway Wildlife Crossing Open House Set for June 25

Public Review at King Gillette Ranch - 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Artist's Concept of Wildlife Crossing on US 101 near Liberty Canyon

The public is invited to review the proposed concept for a wildlife crossing of US 101 on Monday, June 25 between 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the King Gillette Ranch Visitor Center at an informal open house. 

The primary project partners will have representatives present to answer questions about the proposal, the newly finalized Environmental Assessment and means of coexisting with area wildlife: 

  • Caltrans 
  • National Park Service (NPS)
  • National Wildlife Federation (NWF)
  • Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
  • Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains
  • The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority

The event is hosted by 101 Wildlife Crossing and National Wildlife Federation California.

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May 30, 2018

Public Forum on Proposed Agoura Village Development Set For June 12

A Development Project Public Forum for “The AVE,” a mixed-use project, will be held on Tuesday, June 12, at 6:30 p.m., at the Agoura Hills Recreation and Event Center.  Per the Guidelines, notice is posted on the link below on the City website home page (under “Community Interest”) and is being mailed by the applicant to: City residents within a 750-foot radius of the project site; all HOAs with City limits for which the City has current contact information; any public agency within a 750-foot radius of the project site; and agencies and individuals who have requested notification of public meetings for the project.

As is allowed in the Guidelines, a notice of the forum has been published in The Star newspaper, rather than The Acorn, because of publication conflicts and deadlines resulting from the holiday weekend.  A forum notification sign is also being posted on the project site, at the southeast corner of Agoura Road/Kanan Road.

(City Website Notice)

May 22, 2018

Prop 68 Could Provide Significant Regional Benefits

Among the items the June 5 ballot asks voters to consider is Proposition 68 that would authorize bonds to fund parks, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply, and flood protection projects. 

Medea Creek Restoration Project is just one example
 of  previously-passed proposition funding at work.
There are several funding categories in this $4.1 billion bond that could provide benefits to Agoura Hills, nearby cities, unincorporated areas and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, including our watersheds, local, regional and state parks, and more.

If passed, funds would be available for habitat restoration, watersheds, water quality, and supplemental funding for projects such as  storm water capture programs,and local water supply projects. 
If Proposition 68 is approved, The Wildlife Conservation Board, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Department of of Natural Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife will be able to make grants to fund eligible projects.  

If adopted, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board would receive a new infusion of bond money to make additional grants and would have funding to acquire additional open space and to restore natural habitats. 

In its May 18 edition, The L.A. Times recommended a "yes" vote on Prop 68. Former State Senator and Agoura Hills Mayor Fran Pavley endorses the measure, along with the California Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Water District as well as many environmental and civic organizations.

Details on Proposition 68 can be found in the state's Official Voter Information Guide, which was recently mailed to households with registered voters. 

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May 4, 2018

Hilton Foundation Proposes World-Class Facility in Agoura Hills

Nestled at the base of Ladyface Mountain on Agoura Road just west of Reyes Adobe, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is among the largest philanthropic organizations in the United States. A legacy of the famous hotelier, the Hilton Foundation supports global health, education, and safe water access in developing countries and, closer to home, works with city and county officials to end chronic homelessness in Los Angeles. In the first quarter of 2018, the Hilton Foundation has awarded over $13 million in grants. (For more information:

Impressive as that may be, the organization is also a unique asset to the community and a good neighbor. The headquarters building sets an example of functional architecture that is attractive, environmentally sensitive to its surroundings, and at the forefront of energy efficiency.

The current headquarters building was designed to exceed the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Platinum certification. Among its characteristics are solar power generation, a gravity driven climate control system that minimizes energy use, a stormwater recovery and storage system, and the use of recycled water for irrigation and lavatory flushing. Remarkably, the building is heated and cooled naturally, without a gas furnace or air conditioning units. In short, its impacts on the environment have been reduced. Architects and design engineers from all over the world have come to tour and learn more about the facility.

A Need to Expand

When the Foundation acquired its 43-acre site, additional buildings were planned for the organization's anticipated expansion. The additional structures were already approved by the City of Agoura Hills, with the understanding that development at the site would occur in phases. However, the Foundation's leadership has now re-imagined the campus in several ways because:
  • The proposed construction would have required the removal of several established coastal oaks and other native plants. 
  • The new buildings would be quite visible as they rose up the slope of Ladyface Mountain. 
  • Geological and cultural mitigations had to be considered. 

Instead, the Foundation has taken a "clean sheet of paper" approach to its expansion. They sought to minimize the impacts on the environment, preserve the oaks and consolidate the infrastructure support systems for the campus. A new proposal was created to:
  •  Locate the new building on the site of the current parking lot. 
  •  Put all of the parking underground. 
  •  Achieve a "net zero" energy rating, well in advance of the state's target date of 2030, using solar power and advanced technology climate control systems that seek to save cool night temperatures for use during the day. 
  •  Erect a landscaped berm along Agoura Road to shield much of the structure from view to passing traffic. 
Does the Proposal Comply With City Development Policies?

One of the key guidelines to development in Agoura Hills has been a policy that states, "Let the land dictate the use." The new Hilton Foundation campus plan seems to adhere to that intent, by leaving the stand of oaks intact and the hillside free of development. There are two areas where consideration must be given to deviation from the city's development standards:

1. The setback from Agoura Road is proposed at 90 feet, where the existing code would require 100 feet. Mitigating factors include a berm that would shield the parking structure portion of the building from view at road level and landscaping that would further screen the structure.

2. The proposed height of the building would exceed the city's current 35-foot limit. This occurs because of the multi-level underground parking and a need for three levels of office space. Significantly, the taller building would actually be less visible from homes north of the freeway than the previously approved buildings which would have been placed much higher on the hillside.


Agoura Hills Tomorrow believes that the Foundation's requests have merit. While we have ardently stood by the city's 35-foot height limit, previous applications for variances have most often been for commercial visibility such as signage, building identification through architectural elements like clock towers or additional stories to maximize leasable space. The Hilton Foundation proposal is for none of these reasons. Instead, their application appears to be driven by environmental concerns - preservation of the hillside and consolidating the campus while minimizing its footprint. These are good reasons to consider a variance.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is a community asset any city would be proud to have. Its commitment to philanthropy throughout the world speaks for itself. The commitment it has to Agoura Hills as a good neighbor and as an example of what is possible through environmental stewardship and leading-edge building technology sets it apart from the routine applications often received at the city's planning desk. For these reasons, it is our opinion that full consideration should be given to the Foundation's Agoura Road campus proposal.

April 6, 2018

Yes on Proposition 68 - Parks, Water, and Natural Resources Ballot Measure

On Tuesday June 5th, Californians will be able to vote on Proposition 68, a $4.1 billion dollar ballot measure that will provide funds toward projects around the state of California. This is a simple majority vote general obligation bond. As a bond, it is paid back through the State's General Fund over a 20-30 year period of time. It is not an assessment or tax on local property.

This measure was put on the ballot by a 2/3 bipartisan vote of the state legislature and not by paid signature gatherers. It has broad public support from across the state,including cities, local park districts, environmental organizations, the CA Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Water District, and many civic organizations.

Many of the categories of funding are directly relevant to our region which makes priority projects eligible for potential funding if this measure passes on June 5th. Most of the funds would be distributed by the State Conservancy's such as the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC), the Wildlife Conservation Board, Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources, and other agencies.

Over the last 30 years our area has directly benefited from grants from the SMMC, the Coastal Conservancy, and the Wildlife Conservation Board which led to the acquisition of Ahmanson Ranch, Chesebro Meadow, King Gillette Ranch, grants to Agoura Hills, L.A. County and Calabasas, for creek restoration projects,and many other local and regional benefits. 

Notably, Prop. 68 will provide funding for the acquisition of the Triangle Ranch on the southern border of our city. Below are some examples of funding included in Proposition 68 that could benefit our region.

* $100 million for multi-benefit storm water management
* $290 million for regional water supply
*$100 million towards recycling water
* $550 million for flood protection and repair
* $175 million for ocean and coastal protection
* $250 million for clean drinking water and drought preparedness
* $285 million to local parks and open space districts
* $160 million to state conservancies
* $137 million to the Wildlife Conservation Board (regional conservation projects)
* $218 million to repair and improve state parks
* $ 80 million for groundwater clean up
* $200 million for habitat restoration

Other funds are available in the bond for projects for parks in urban communities, protection of the Salton Sea, San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Nevada.

Proceeds from past bond measures are depleted or almost depleted. These categories were closely vetted by relevant agencies and the legislature to be the highest priorities relating to water, parks and open spaces in our state. A prior 2014 Water Bond is providing money for larger water storage, water supply and groundwater related projects.

We believe that Proposition 68 merits the support of Agoura Hills residents. A voter information guide will be in the mail the first week of May along with vote-by-mail ballots. Please read it for yourself, and please vote “yes” on Proposition 68 on June 5.

March 14, 2018

Underpass Part of Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing Now Completed

The underpass crossing at Liberty Canyon, funded by the Wildlife Conservation Board, has been completed, with Cal Trans fences relocated along the off ramps, restoration of a native stream bed and addition of native plants. Changes have been made with fencing and by naturalizing the underpass itself to direct and encourage wildlife, including mountain lions, to choose it as a safe crossing under the 101 freeway. This is the first phase of the overall plan to reduce wildlife killings on the freeway, the second being a naturalized bridge over the freeway which is in the planning stage with CalTrans, the City of Agoura Hills, and other partners.

We are concerned about new lights at the corner office building next to Liberty Canyon Rd and about 10 feet from the wildlife corridor and eastbound exit of the 101 at Liberty Canyon. The one shown below should probably be replaced with ground level LED lights that go off at 8 pm. These extra outdoor parking spaces encroached into a slope that was originally landscaped to be part of the corridor. The tuck under parking below the office bldg can have a recessed light in the roof that also has a timer or light sensor. 

February 11, 2018

Want a Voice in Major Development Decisions? Support “Community Development Forums”

On Wednesday, February 14, the Agoura Hills City Council will discuss the possible adoption of Community Development Forums, “CDFs,” for future development projects within the city. The idea was posited by the city’s Land Use and Economic Development Committee (LU/EDC), consisting of Mayor Bill Koehler and Mayor Pro Tem, Linda Northrup. Our neighbor City of Calabasas has already adopted CDFs in April of last year.

What is a CDF? Essentially, it is a meeting that the developer is required to conduct, with the public, to present his development proposal and receive community feedback before receiving any approval of his application from the city. The city has conducted similar meetings in the past, called “charrettes,” when adopting specific plans like the Old Agoura Overlay and the Agoura Village Plan.

A Charrette Held for Agoura Village Plan, 1998
The staff report provided to the city council for next Wednesday night’s meeting, recommends conducting one CDF, but only for projects within the Agoura Village Plan and only as “an informational meeting” at which the public may “ask questions of the applicant (the developer).” We believe that this does not go far enough.  The Guidelines for the Calabasas CDFs describes them as “an opportunity for the public to engage with the design team and other subject matter experts, using a ‘hands on’ or ‘charrette’ style interactive design process.” 

The type of project subject to a CDF should be what was recommended to the council by the LU/EDC, or similar to what was adopted in Calabasas. Further, the CDF should be held at the earliest possible date in the application process. The public should be allowed and encouraged to suggest modifications or design changes. The city staff does not have an exclusive right to do that. 

We also disagree that projects should be exempt if they meet all specific plan and zoning standards. These are minimums. The public is entitled to receive and provide early input on issues such as visual compatibility with the project’s built and natural surroundings, impact on viewsheds, density and justifications for massive grading/retaining walls, or removal of oak trees. The public is entitled to suggest realistic project alternatives.

This is a very valuable process for both the developer and the ultimate decision makers, the city council. Calabasas considers it valuable enough to require 2 CDF’s for any project subject to the guidelines. They provide the following advice to developers:

“A Community Development Forum offers an opportunity to listen to the ideas and concerns of residents and stakeholders both as you finalize your project design and during the formal application process. The public meetings may be a chance to improve your plan or make modifications that will make a big difference to your neighbors and the community’s perception of your project.”

We agree. The CDFs are not an obstacle to sound development, but a reasonable step to allow the developer and the decision makers to measure the design against the standards and expectations of the community. The CDFs can help avoid the costly appeals process, plan changes initiated in the council chambers, and worse, litigation.

Two recent city projects come to mind. Mr. Selleck’s L.A. Fitness project could have avoided the appeal and contentious meeting if he had known beforehand the resident’s objections, particularly to his sign program. To his credit, Mr. Selleck made every accommodation he could at that last stage in the process. The other project, Cornerstone, was not so compliant. The public had been shown the original Agoura Village Plan with a single building on the Cornerstone site, a restaurant with views overlooking the Village. This was the concept that was presented in charrettes, and printed up in brochures that promoted the idea of Agoura Village. They may have also seen the revised concept of a larger project on that site, but they never had an opportunity to comment or opine on the final Cornerstone plan before it made it to the decision makers for approval. No wonder that project is now in court. It bore no relation to the public expectations or standards for Agoura Village.

Adopting a rigorous Community Development Forum process will benefit residents, stakeholders, decision makers and developers in the long run. Let’s get it in place before we are faced with another Cornerstone.

Attend the council meeting, Wednesday, February 14, 6:00 PM at City Hall, or send an email to the City Council by sending to the City Clerk, Kimberly Rodrigues:

January 18, 2018

What Are Those Things?

One of the unique features planned for Agoura Village was large stone monuments to denote the entries and let people know they were in a unique area.   But when our city council saw the design for the monuments and the plan for their placement within the Agoura Village area, they had a difficult time visualizing their actual appearance. Fortunately, Mayor Bill Koehler, then a council member, suggested the city erect story poles to help the council visualize the size and placement of the monuments. Those strange wood frames sprouting on the south side of the city are the result. Each structure represents the approximate size and placement of the monuments. Please drive by and consider them in relation to the mountains backdrop and then add your thoughts about size and placement. We will share all the comments we receive with the city.

January 12, 2018

Traffic Improvements Coming?

On November 6, 2016, 71.6% of L.A. County voters approved the Metropolitan Transit District’s ballot Measure M. This permanent ½ cent sales tax increase will now provide a new revenue stream intended for major improvements to the County’s public transit system.

Agoura Hills has submitted four applications for projects inside our city: the Palo Comado Interchange, the Kanan Corridor Improvements Project, the Roadside Drive Improvements Project, and the Regional Transit Center Project.

The city will be holding an informational Workshop for the public to attend, to learn more about these proposed projects, and to ask questions directly of city staff. All of these would impact our daily lives. Would there be secondary impacts beyond the benefits? On adjacent open space? On traffic speed? On oak tree preservation? On community character?

We encourage you to attend and share your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 16 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Agoura Hills City Hall Community Room, 30001 Ladyface Court

For more information, contact Director of Public Works, Ramiro Adeva: