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Significant Ecological Areas
SEAs are officially designated areas within Los Angeles County identified as having irreplaceable biological resources. These areas represent the wide-ranging biodiversity of the County and contain some of the County’s most important biological resources. Each individual SEA was configured to support sustainable populations of its component species, and includes undisturbed to lightly disturbed habitat along with linkages and corridors that promote species movement.
The SEA Program
The objective of the SEA Program is to conserve genetic and physical diversity within Los Angeles County by designating biological resource areas that are capable of sustaining themselves into the future. Much of the land in SEAs is privately-held, used for public recreation, and/or abuts developed communities. The SEA Program must therefore balance the overall objective of resource preservation against other critical public needs.
The SEA Program, through goals and policies of the General Plan and the SEA ordinance (Title 22 zoning regulations) help guide development within SEAs. The General Plan goals and policies are intended to ensure that privately-held lands within the SEAs retain the right of reasonable use, while avoiding activities and developments that are incompatible with the ability of SEAs to thrive in the long term. The SEA ordinance establishes the permitting, design standards, and review process for development within SEAs. The County relies on the SEA Program to balance preservation of the County’s natural biodiversity with private property rights. Further discussions on the SEA Program components can be found within the links below:
- General Plan SEA Program Discussion including Goals and Policies (Chapter 9, pg. 132)
- General Plan Appendix E: Conservation and Natural Resources Element Resources (includes SEA Selection Criteria and Descriptions)
- Current SEA Ordinance Section 22.56.215 (See Updates page to review the latest SEA ordinance update).
SEA Selection Criteria
The design of the SEAs is based on concepts regarding size and connectivity with a focus on the diverse biological resources that make up the rare and unique environment found within LA County. All of the County’s SEAs must satisfy at least one of the six SEA Selection Criteria:
- A. The habitat of core populations of endangered or threatened plant or animal species.
- B. On a regional basis, biotic communities, vegetative associations, and habitat of plant or animal species that are either unique or are restricted in distribution.
- C. Within the County, biotic communities, vegetative associations, and habitat of plant or animal species that are either unique or are restricted in distribution
- D. Habitat that at some point in the life cycle of a species or group of species, serves as concentrated breeding, feeding, resting, migrating grounds and is limited in availability either regionally or in the County.
- E. Biotic resources that are scientific interest because they are either an extreme in physical/geographical limitations, or represent unusual variation in a population or community.
- F. Areas that would provide for the preservation of relatively undisturbed examples of the original natural biotic communities in the County
Further discussion of each of the criterion can be found within Appendix E of the General Plan starting on pg. 52.
The description of each SEA, including descriptions of boundaries, resources, wildlife movement, and how they meet the designation criteria can be found within Appendix E of the General Plan starting on pg. 53.
The Department's interactive map program, GIS-NET3 is used to map important information about individual properties in the County, such as zoning or land use. To check if your property is in a proposed or adopted SEA click here for GIS-NET3.
SEA GIS-NET3 Tutorials
How to use GIS-NET3 to look up properties in SEAs - view Help document here.
Click here for our GIS Data Portal. To download GIS data about Significant Ecological Areas, just type in "SEA" in the search box in the upper right-hand corner. NOTE - you need GIS software in order to view this downloaded data.