Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks (FHBP) got involved in the land use and transportation policy arena with the renewal of Measure M in 2005. When the state budget took a hit and the bond freeze occurred in 2008, FHBP realized that another way to protect lands was to engage at the policy level when decision makers reviewed or re-wrote new policies. Here are a few ways FHBP has gotten involved at the local level on policies that affect conservation outcomes.

Cactus BloomOrange County’s Emission Reductions
With the passage of Senate Bill 375 (Sustainable Community Strategy Act of 2008), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) were required to complete a Sustainable Community Strategy (SCS) for their region. Southern California’s MPO is the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). Within the legislation, our region was afforded the opportunity to create its own sub-regional SCS. Orange County and the Gateway Cities were the only two sub-regions to take advantage of this opportunity.

FHBP worked closely with the Orange County Council of Governments to ensure natural lands were appropriately covered in the sub-regional plan. In April 2011, FHBP organized a coalition of 26 conservation and community organizations (a sub-set of the Green Vision Coalition) that ultimately supported the inclusion of a new land use strategy that allowed natural land preservation to be one of the strategies to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions. This strategy, and the document was approved in late June 2011 for the Orange County SCS.

Orange County Tree Ordinance
When FHBP discovered that Orange County does not have an ordinance to protect trees in unincorporated areas (the only county in the SCAG region that doesn’t), we went to work with our conservation allies to craft one. The draft Orange County Protected Tree Ordinance was submitted to the County for consideration in June 2016 and proposes a permitting process to be undertaken before certain trees can be damaged or removed. The goal is to protect Orange County native trees – including oak, sycamore, walnut, and Tecate cypress – and exceptional specimen trees that are a link to our county’s natural heritage.

Trees provide oxygen release, carbon sequestration, and crucial habitat for wildlife. Trees also lend beauty and charm to the landscape and enhance the value and character of the communities where they exist. These days, all trees are severely stressed by our ongoing drought, infestations, fires, and development pressures. The proposed ordinance provides a uniform permitting process for documenting and protecting these trees, and includes verifiable replacement measures when protected trees must be removed. Orange County planners are currently considering the draft ordinance, and FHBP remains ready to collaborate and support the County’s efforts to bring this important ordinance to completion.

View the Local Policies Resource Page for more information.