Topanga State Park General Plan


Topanga VistaDecember 3, 2012
On September 28, 2012, the State Park and Recreation Commission met and approved the Topanga State Park General Plan and establishment of a 158-acre Cultural Preserve. Comments received during the Draft GP/EIR comment period were considered and changes were made to the documents. A Notice of Determination for the EIR was signed and approved on October 23, 2012 and was posted with the State Clearinghouse for a 30-day statute of limitations. It may be found to the right with previous project notices. Additionally, the Final GP/EIR may be found to the right with the previous draft version.

September 27th/28th, 2012, the State Park & Recreation Commission will meet to consider and take action regarding the Topanga State Park General Plan.  Public notice of the meeting as well as the agenda may be found at the following link - Meetings of the Commission.

Comments received during the Preliminary General Plan/Draft EIR public review period as well as responses may be found at the following link - Draft EIR Comments and Responses.

On December 5, 2011, the California Department of Parks and Recreation issued notices to inform the public and interested agencies that the Preliminary General Plan/Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for Topanga State Park is available for review and comment. The DEIR is available for a 45-day public review and comment period as required under CEQA guidelines §15105(a), beginning December 8, 2011 and ending January 23, 2012.

Upon the conclusion of the public comment period, all comments shall be responded to and made part of the Final EIR. A hearing will then be scheduled with the State Park and Recreation Commission to consider and approve the General Plan and certify the findings of the EIR in compliance with CEQA.

State Parks welcomes your comments regarding the DEIR. Mailed comments should be postmarked no later than January 23, 2012. Comments may also be submitted by fax, in person or email to the address listed below:

Environmental Coordinator
Topanga General Plan Team
California State Parks
Southern Service Center
2797 Truxtun Rd.
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 221-7082 (fax)

The Final GP/EIR can be viewed under the Planning Documents section to the right, or in person at the following locations:

California State Parks
Angeles District Headquarters
1925 Las Virgenes Road
Calabasas, CA 91302

Will Rogers State Historic Park
1501 Will Rogers Park Road
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

California State Parks
Southern Service Center
2797 Truxtun Rd.
San Diego, CA 92106

Digital copies of the Final General Plan/EIR on CD can be purchased from the Southern Service Center for $3.80 per copy which includes postage. Make checks payable to California Department of Parks and Recreation, and send your order to the Southern Service Center per the address denoted above.  The traffic study prepared for the EIR can be made available by making a request to the contact above.


The California Department of Parks and Recreation is developing an updated general plan for one of the largest parks in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Most of this rugged, natural park lies within the urban limits of the City of Los Angeles place and within day-use reach of some 12 million metropolitan-area residents.

The park encompasses 11,525 acres of varied terrain, much of it dramatically steep and scenic. With the acquisition of 1,625 acres of land in Lower Topanga, the park’s boundaries now extend from Pacific Coast Highway to the hills above the San Fernando Valley. A ring of eight communities surrounds the park, and more than 60 entrances can be found along the park’s complex boundary. Passing through these many gateways, visitors take advantage of a splendid, 36-mile canyon-and-ridgeline trail system.

Vegetation is dominated by mature chaparral, but significant stands of oak woodland can be found in the Trippet Ranch area. Coastal sage scrub, grassland savannah, bay laurel woodland, walnut woodland, and a variety of riparian habitats can also be found within the park. These habitats support a diverse wildlife community, with more than eighty mammal species, several hundred bird species, and over sixty reptiles and amphibians potentially occurring within the park.

Topanga State Park was created on a landscape that is rich in layers of cultural history and prehistory. Human occupation goes back at least 8,000 to 10,000 years, to an early Paleo-Indian culture. In addition to the long chain of occupation collectively referred to as the Topanga Culture, the park contains lands traditional to both the Tongva and Chumash peoples, historically marking an interface between these two groups.

Recreation and enjoyment of the outdoors has long been identified with this “health-giving” mountains-to-the-sea environment, and the park’s history builds on that foundation.  Tent cabins and beach cottages populate early twentieth century postcard, and gentleman's ranch and private clubs claimed local acreage for more exclusive retreats. Many sites within the park, Trippet Ranch, Will Roger's cabin site and the Josepho Barn, are associated with this historic past.

Timely opportunities exist to restore or maintain vital regional connections. These include the ecological relationship of Topanga Creek to the Santa Monica Bay and the freedom of wildlife to live and move throughout a natural habitat area. The park also affords opportunities for a sizable portion of the state’s population to access cross-country trails such as the Backbone and Coastal Slope Trails and to experience the restorative and inspirational beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains.


The first step in the planning process was to conduct a resource inventory.  Our team of specialists spent time surveying the park and researching records.  With these understandings we can proceed to the next step of defining alternative plans and management opportunities for the park.  Below you will find summaries of all the inventories.

Summary of Aesthetic Resources
Summary of Cultural Resources (Archaeology)
Summary of Historic Resources
Summary of Interpretation and Education Resources
Summary of Natural Resources
Summary of Recreational Resources


Public Workshop 1 Maps
Special Features and Landscapes
Park Entrances

General Maps
[large files - may take a couple minutes to load]
Location Map
Region Map        [6mb]

Eagle Rock

Public Meeting #1

Approximately sixty-five people participated with the First Public Meeting, where the General Plan (GP) team presented a summary of resource findings and recorded the public concerns/issues regarding the Park (refer to the downloadable Resource Inventory documents denoted above, to review some of the resource findings and analysis).

Many at the first meeting spoke to various park issues that included different points of views between trail users, camping preferences and how to balance resource protection with development. Over eighty-two pages of comments were received from the first meeting and from subsequent outreach efforts. A sampling of Parkwide issues, ideas and concerns recorded from Public Meeting #1 are denoted here -

Public Meeting1 - Comment Sampling

These comments and on-going analysis helped generate the various management and planning options that that were discussed at Public Meeting #2.

Public Meeting 2
Public Meeting #2

General Plan and CEQA Process
Proposed Park Vision and Declaration of Purpose Handout

Approximately eighty-five people gathered to participate in a workshop-format public meeting, where input was sought on four items:

  • Proposed Park Vision and Declaration of Purpose
  • Management Zones
  • Planning Matrix
  • Developing the Preferred Plan

Draft Management Zones

The proposed Management Zones were general attempts to spatially define the management concept for the Park. These zones were based upon geographic relationships, ecologically parameters, management issues, and the type and intensities of visitor-use and resource based experiences.

A Planning Matrix, used in conjunction with the Management Zones, provided a menu of management/planning options that were separated into resource based and visitor–use based experiences. These options were provided to help the GP team and public consider the different possibilities for each Management Zone including the perceived benefits and potential environmental effects if implemented. For example, in the ‘Wildlands’ Management Zone, the resource based options included ‘maintaining existing trails and improving existing camping at Musch Camp’, while the visitor-use based options included ‘expanding camping in all areas, including expanding facilities at Musch Camp’. Another example is, in the ‘Lower Topanga’ Management Zone, the resource based options denoted ‘Optimize lagoon restoration (relocate or remove all existing structures)’, and the Visitor-use based option denoted ‘Restore motel with modest lagoon restoration’.

These management/planning options were seen as a starting point and not an all inclusive menu list. During the meeting, the public was requested to offer up their suggestions in order to start developing the Preferred Plan.

As part of the Management Zones workshop exercise, several zones were designated as sub-classifications to reflect the special circumstances of the zones (refer to the Planning Handbook downloadable from the Planning Division Publication, – link: for additional information on Unit Classification and sub-classification).

The proposed sub-classifications were:

Cultural Preserve
Natural Preserve
Trippet Ranch Historic Zone

*Trippet Ranch zone is not a sub-classification but rather a management designation.

Miscellaneous Planning Documents

DRAFT Manament Zone Map
DRAFT Topanga Planning Matrix
DRAFT Resource based Trail/Camping Map*
DRAFT Visitor-use based Trail/Camping Map*

*The Trail Map contains trail and camping data that was partially glean from the on-going Interagency Regional Trail Management Plan (TMP) by the National Parks Service, State Parks, and SMMC (refer to the NPS website for additional information).

Public Meeting 2 Comment Sampling

Public Meeting #3
Based upon the input received at the first two public meetings and from on-going analysis, a Revised Declaration of Purpose and the Preferred Plan (Single Plan) were presented at the Third Public meeting held June 14, 2011 at Temsecal Gateway Park. Approx. sixty five people attended the presentation.  Planning material from that presentation can be downloaded below.

The GP Team encourages all of you to stay involved and continue to be an active participant of this planning process, by checking back to this website for the announcement that the Draft EIR document will be available for the 45-day review period.  This document shall be made available at various community sites as well as being loaded onto this website.

Thank you for your continued interest and support.

Maps and Documents
Planning Matrix
Declaration of Purpose and Management Zone Map
Lower Topanga Lagoon Preferred Plan