Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why is Torrance Protecting the Southern Tar Plant?

Southern Tarplant

The above plant is an endangered species, according to recent report in the Daily Breeze. It exists primarily in two places: Madrona Marsh, and the soon-to-be developed transit center in North Torrance.

I do support an extension of the Metro Line, as well as a new transit hub for the Torrance Transit metro lines (to replace the one housed near the Del Amo Fashion Center) in the City of Torrance. This project will allow more Measure R funds to be invested in our city. Still, I wonder what to think about two acres of land being take away from development just to preserve a plant.

I contacted one of the city council members, who informed me that the city was not paying more money to preserve the southern tar plant. However, the city is setting aside two acres of land to protect this herb, land which could be used for another purposes. Besides, if Madrona Marsh has enough territory, why not relocate the plants to a plot of land there?

Some passages from the article bear repeating and comment:
That appears to be the main environmental issue with the 15-acre former industrial site at 465 Crenshaw Blvd., which already has been cleaned of any potential contaminants under state supervision.

Two acres out of fifteen is still a lot of land. Since the land has been taken care of, why not do something else with the property?

With no significant environmental problems identified in an initial study, no full-blown environmental analysis is required under state law, officials said.

At least another round of environmental reports will not delay the project any further.

However, the native plant, an herb called the southern tarplant, is listed as rare and endangered by the California Native Plant Society. It exists on two acres of the property, as well as at the city-owned Madrona Marsh Nature Preserve.

The California Native Plant Society? From their website:

The California Native Plant Society is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting California's native plant heritage and preserving it for future generations. Our nearly 10,000 members promote native plant appreciation, research, education, and conservation through our five statewide programs and 34 regional chapters in California.

Why does a non-profit have so much influence over these decisions, enough that two cares of city land is closed off from future development? Why not relocate the plant to the South Coast Botanical Garden? I found the website for the Los Angeles-Santa Monica Mountains chapter, and contacted their president for more information about the southern tarplant.

I also contacted the community development department at:


The article provided information for the next Planning Commission meeting as well as contact information:

A public hearing is scheduled for the Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 7.

Public comments on the project will be accepted through Jan. 2. They should be directed to Planning Manager Gregg D. Lodan, Torrance Community Development Department, 3031 Torrance Blvd., Torrance CA 90503, or via email at CommunityDevelopmentDepartment@TorranceCA.gov.
Perhaps city residents should attend this planning commission meeting, and get some answers. I do not see the wisdom or even the legal precedent which requires the city to give up two acres for a plant. City residents deserve every opportunity to know why our city leaders make certain decisions with the land, and why non-profits get to influence the use of city property.

. An acre is a lot of land,  equivalent to 43,560 square feet. That is a lot of property! Two acres for a plant seems more than necessary. Besides, the Madrona Marsh has 43 acres already. Surely there is some land there which could be set aside to preserve California flora. I plan on attending that Jan 7th meeting, and I encourage ore people concerned about projects like the preservation of the southern tarplant to do the same.

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