The most meaningful comment I heard at the LAFCO hearing Sept. 12 was that the Bob Hope land exchange issue is regional, not local.
Oak Park, environmentally sensitive, still prefers not having a huge tract in its back yard even if it means losing almost 9 square miles of open space and wildlife habitat somewhere else. This is a local issue.
Simi Valley, environmentally sensitive, still prefers not having a huge county dump in its back yard and likes the idea of almost nine square miles of open space and wildlife habitat close by. This is a local issue.
Potomac Investment Associates, environmentally sensitive, prefers the profits from a developed Jordan Ranch to backing out of the deal. Reducing the number of permissible houses and dedicating additional open space sugarcoat the bitter pill of destroying more of the priceless environment. This is a profit issue.
The under-funded Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and environmentally concerned people of the region, unaffected by new tracts or a new dump, see the land exchange in terms of a last chance to preserve almost 9 square miles of wildly beautiful open range, home to our unique and rapidly shrinking wildlife. This is a regional conservation issue.
The issue score is: 2 local, 1 profit and 1 conservationist.
The SMMC would be ecstatic to aid in the preservation of all the Hope holdings, including the Jordan Ranch. It sits in agreement with all of us, including Oak Park, Simi and surrounding regional conservationists. The fly in the ointment is profit and development. The cut of the deal is that Hope doesn't want to give away all his holdings "free." He only wants to give away 80% of them, inexpensively.
We have reached the age where preservation of our environment is mandatory if our species is to continue. The preservation of 9 square miles at the expense of 1 square mile makes the best sense, especially if you are the wildlife.
It is my hope decision-makers will think long term rather than short term and think regional rather than local.