2018 National Planning Conference

Protecting Biodiversity in Urban Counties

Monday, April 15, 2019 from 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. PDT

CM | 1.25

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC198147

Location: 2009

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  • Discover best practices on how to balance natural resource protection and development, and resolve challenges stemming from politics, resource constraints, or public opinions.
  • Learn how an impact-based approach to natural resource protection and early biological assessment may be beneficial to good project design and protection of biodiversity.
  • Discover how to employ public engagement strategies shared at the session on how to engage with members of the public with differing views on natural resource protection.


Los Angeles County is one of the 25 hot spots of biological diversity on Earth and home to over 10 million residents. The Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning (LACDRP) officially designated areas within the county called Significant Ecological Areas (SEA). SEAs contain irreplaceable biological resources and the objective is to conserve genetic and physical diversity. The SEA Ordinance, which establishes the permitting, design standards, and review process for development within SEAs, is being updated for the first time since 1982. The 36-year difference allowed for shifts in public perspective, political players, and understanding of ecosystem functions.

The comprehensive overhaul of the SEA Ordinance began with the update of the County General Plan in 1998. Utilizing an impact-based approach to balance natural resource protection and development is a step forward from traditional use-based regulations. The impact-based process allows for earlier involvement from the planning department and guidance for better designed projects. The evolution of the SEA program is a culmination of technical studies, public engagement, and addressing challenges and opportunities.

Session Speakers

Iris Chi, AICP
Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning
Los Angeles, CA

Patricia L. Hachiya, AICP
Los Angeles County Regl Plng Dept
Los Angeles, CA

Joseph Decruyenaere
County of Los Angeles Department of Regional Planning
Los Angeles, CA