Editorial: Mountain lion sanctuary? Just one more absurd endeavor to skirt new housing law

When the wealthy suburb of Woodside on the San Francisco Peninsula declared alone a mountain lion habitat, it was this kind of a shameless ploy to exempt itself from a new point out legislation allowing far more housing density that not even mountain lion advocates bought it.

But much more substantially, neither did California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta, who despatched the city a letter Sunday informing officials that that excuse was not likely to fly. Following the letter — and a whole lot of lousy publicity sparked by a story in the Almanac, a neighborhood paper — city officers, sensibly, retreated from their stance as promptly as a spooked mountain lion scampers back again into the wilderness.

Ever considering that the passage last year of Senate Bill 9, the controversial regulation that will allow up to 4 units on a one-household residence whole lot, metropolitan areas up and down the point out have been attempting to concoct approaches to get all around it or impose hard standards that may discourage residence house owners from getting on the constructing venture. For instance, a new ordinance in Los Altos Hills regulates the shade of walls and exterior lighting, prohibits rooftop decks and demands a hedge along the parcel line near the SB 9 unit.

At one particular position, Pasadena’s Setting up and Local community Development Department urged the Pasadena Metropolis Council to examine “a citywide historic overlay.” (Historic districts are exempt from SB 9.) Animus for the housing density law is so intensive that there is a marketing campaign to get a measure on the November ballot permitting neighborhood towns and counties to override point out zoning legal guidelines. The Regional Council of the Southern California Assn. of Governments overwhelmingly endorsed it.

But proclaiming to be in a wildlife habitat is among the the more devious methods. Certainly, Woodside is element of the quarter of the condition discovered as the vary of sure mountain lion populations for which the Mountain Lion Basis and the Heart for Biological Diversity are trying to find protection underneath the California Endangered Species Act. The determination on that is anticipated this year.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean each individual one piece of land within just that selection is mountain lion habitat where by animals shelter and come across foodstuff. Mountain lions might wander by means of neighborhoods in the dead of night time, but that doesn’t suggest all those neighborhoods are true habitat.

In actuality, though Woodside does incorporate some lion habitat, that does not lengthen to the full city. “A blanket prohibition versus introducing an supplemental unit on an by now developed parcel anyplace in the town is neither demanded by the California Endangered Species Act, nor contributing to the protection of mountain lions,” the Mountain Lion Basis explained in a assertion.

Besides, SB 9 is about infill, not sprawl. As Bonta describes in his letter to the town manager, restricting housing generation in formulated regions “would maximize the probability of exurban sprawl that will adversely have an effect on the habitat of mountain lions.”

He is correct. Developing much more residences farther from urban facilities encroaches upon forests, foothills and wilderness and has an impact on all types of wildlife, these kinds of as birds nesting in trees or mountain lions roaming for territory.

Superior for Bonta for so immediately contacting out Woodside town officers and allowing them know their ordinance was illegal. This was an quick contact in a higher-profile, clearly ridiculous occasion.

Now we want to see the attorney standard and other state officials clearly show that identical perseverance in cracking down on municipalities seeking to subvert SB 9 in a lot more mundane and refined ways that may perhaps fly below the public’s radar.