Developing Land in Topanga Canyon and the Santa Monica Mountains Area
Most of Topanga Canyon is under the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission (http://www.coastal.ca.gov/), whose mission is "Protect, conserve, restore, and enhance environmental and human-based resources of the California coast and ocean for environmentally sustainable and prudent use by current and future generations.", in other words, to keep the area in harmony with the surrounding wildlife and natural environment by setting guidelines on use and development.
In many cases Coastal Commission approvals can take up to 2 years or more. Even parcels that are out of the Coastal Zone boundaries can be subject to the Santa Monica Mountains North Area Plan (http://planning.lacounty.gov/spSmmnap.htm) and its Grading & Ridgeline Ordinance (http://planning.lacounty.gov/doc/ord/drp_GradingAndRidgeline_ord.pdf)
Land loans can be more difficult to obtain than a home loans. In some cases, down payments of up to 50% of the purchase price are necessary to secure such loans. Some parcels for sale may have seller-financing options.
Not all of the parcels listed as available will be build-able. It is up to the prospective buyer to perform all investigations and inspections desired on any parcel they are considering purchasing.
Some steps in the process:
- Survey to determine boundaries of parcel.
- Geology report to determine if land is suitable for a foundation.
- Soils & Percolation test to determine suitability for septic system. Must pass before permits will be issued.
- Driveways must meet Fire Department standards before building process begins.
- All building & architectural plans must be submitted to Coastal Commission for approval.
- Certificate of Compliance and other regulatory building papers are necessary.
- Weed Abatement charges may apply.
- Parcel may have National or State Park Service restrictions.
- County Water or Well will need to be in place.
- If not already in place, electric meters have to be installed on most raw land.
The following is a list of pertinent agencies and respective contact info.
The DRP's "Applicant's Guide to Development and Permit Processing"
California Coastal Commission
South Central Coast District Office
Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains Area within L.A. County
John (Jack) Ainsworth, Deputy Director
Gary Timm, District Manager
89 South California Street, Suite 200
Ventura, CA 93001-2801
FAX (805) 641-1732
County of L.A. - Department of Regional Planning
Calabasas / Malibu Field Office
26600 Agoura Road
Calabasas, CA 91302
Fax (818) 880-6279