August 19, 2021
To: Honorable Thai Le, Los Angeles County Clerk
Re: Redistricting Community of Interest
Dear County Clerk Le:
We write to you as former mayors of the City of Agoura Hills, a member city of the Las Virgenes/Malibu Council of Governments (“COG”). This is to express our strong support for the inclusion of the COG cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Westlake Village, and the unincorporated area from Topanga to the Ventura County line in one Community of Interest (“COI”). There are many compelling reasons which support this determination.
1) The five cities are entities separate and distinct from the City of Los Angeles, joined in a longstanding common COG. These COG cities, and virtually all of the area of the Santa Monica Mountains from Topanga Canyon (Route 27) west to Ventura County, are served by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Not by the City of Los Angeles.
2) The unifying geographic feature of these five cities is their location at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Coordination among these entities during wildfires, earthquakes, traffic challenges, and other emergencies is essential to coordinate a safe and prompt response and allow communication and evacuation to proceed in an orderly fashion. Numerous homes through this entire COG area are rural and keep livestock. Many of the roads are narrow or steep. This area creates a unique set of challenges.
3) These COIs are served primarily by the Las Virgenes Unified School District and the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District.
4) The area Is dependent on four major state and local highways: the 101 freeway, Pacific Coast Highway, Topanga Canyon Boulevard, Malibu/Las Virgenes Road, and Kanan Road, all with unique regional challenges. Accordingly, it is important to underscore the geographic implications of our road configuration as a COI.
- Travel eastward to the City of Los Angeles involves taking the 101 freeway over the Calabasas grade.
- Travel westward to Simi Valley is only possible by travelling east to Topanga Canyon Boulevard or west to the 23 Freeway in Thousand Oaks.
These are long circuitous routes, especially during peak am/pm commuter hours. Those who live in our area do not feel any more connected to Simi Valley or the City of Los Angeles than they do to Camarillo or Oxnard. We have greater commonality with the City of Thousand Oaks and the southern part of Ventura County, all sharing the proximity to the Santa Monica Mountains NRA.
5) The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors established a district office for this area in the City of Calabasas over 30 years ago. This was done in recognition of the need to be accessible to residents and businesses of the Las Virgenes and Conejo Valleys and their shared economic and community areas of interest.
6) It is noteworthy that Los Angeles County Measure W has defined our Watershed Committee to include these areas north of the Pacific Ocean in order to protect watershed and water quality from runoff into the Santa Monica Bay.
7) Lastly, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (National Park Service), California State Parks (Topanga, Malibu Creek State Parks, etc.), and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (“MRCA”) share a large area of land in and between these unincorporated areas and the cities in the region. Protecting natural resources and providing public access requires ongoing communication between the various jurisdictions in western Los Angeles County.
For these reasons and others, we feel strongly that this area is a natural Community of Interest, and, accordingly, should not have divided representation on the Board of Supervisors.
Thank you for your consideration.
Former Agoura Hills Mayors, Representing the city from 1982 to 2018,