A Ventura County agribusiness group has filed a lawsuit against the county to oppose new rules that will restrict the use of 163,000 acres of private and public land.
The Ventura County Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, or CoLAB, filed a lawsuit April 30 seeking to overturn the County Board of Supervisors’ passage of the Wildlife Corridor Ordinance.
Passed in March by a 3-2 vote, the ordinance aims to protect the movement of wildlife through territory along the Santa Clara and Ventura rivers and from the eastern border of the county to the Ojai Valley. It creates tough restrictions on outdoor lighting, fencing, structures and brush clearance.
Environmental and open space organizations voiced support for the ordinance, while private property owners called it an unlawful taking of their land.
CoLAB’s suit cites several complications stemming from the ordinance’s exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act and its review process. Chief among them is the impact on wildfire suppression — nearly 120,000 acres of the new overlay zones lie within state designated fire hazard zones, and limitations on brush clearance in these areas could exacerbate the spread of wildfires that threaten humans and wildlife alike, the group says.
The suit also argues that roads and highways are the primary inhibitors to wildlife connectivity and maintains that farming activity presents virtually no obstacles to animals. It claims the restrictions would result in loss of property value and would negatively impact agricultural and ranching operations.
In a statement, CoLAB President Bud Sloan called the ordinance an “overreach of local government.”