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Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Place to Play in Malibu...

Malibu's Trancas Canyon Park opens in July

LOCATION: Trancas Canyon Road a half mile north of Pacific Coast Highway in west Malibu 

7/2010--The City of Malibu celebrated the opening of the new 13.5-acre Trancas Canyon Park this month. The park features a multi-use sports field, dog park, picnic area, tot lot, restrooms, parking and other features. Located on property donated to the City in 2003, the Trancas Canyon Park provides much-needed space for sports and recreation. In addition, it will help contribute to a healthy lifestyle, foster a sense of community, protect wildlife habitat, and help to clean urban runoff. It is one of two new parks the City of Malibu will be opening this year, including Legacy Park in the Civic Center area, which is slated to open this fall.

The Controversial Park Planning Process:
excepted from:

7/7/2010--The planning of Trancas Canyon Park was a long, laborious process that began in 2007 with the initial public input meetings and didn't end until December 2009. The park's final form and function represent compromise by many parties, and the outcomes of lawsuits, appeals and city council votes, planning meetings with local residents and grassroots opposition efforts.

The first major controversy, which nearly resulted in the park not being built at all, was whether league sports play should be allowed. When the Parks and Recreation Commission voted to recommend league play to the city council in 2008, many nearby residents of the park became outraged. They said the “Trancas Park Fact Sheet” the city had sent to residences in Malibu West, Malibu Park and Broad Beach when the project was first proposed didn't mention anything about league play. They said they were led to believe this would just be another “pocket park.” Many parents and their children, as well as City Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, were in favor of sports league play at the park.

Malibu West residents, in particular, were upset by the additional traffic, noise and trash they felt would accompany league play in their neighborhood; as well as safety concerns about fire risks and the ability of fire trucks to get through traffic congestion before and after games on the narrow and winding Trancas Canyon Road. The city council voted to ban league sports at Trancas Canyon Park in June 2008.

The other major controversy in the creation of the park was that park construction would involve flattening a ridgeline. The jagged ridge, christened “Trancas Ridge” by residents, rises almost 28 feet above the flat part of the park property. The ridge and its outline comprise part of the overall view of some homes; plus its crevices and coastal scrub vegetation were known to provide native wildlife habitat. Two Malibu West residents filed appeals against the Trancas Park Environmental Impact Report. A grassroots “Save the Ridge” movement was organized. Residents discovered that ridgelines, large rock landforms, defining views and coastal scrub are actually protected by city code as well as the Local Coastal Plan.

As a result, in April 2009, the city council voted to spare most of the ridgeline and outcropping from grading, as well as preserve a knoll next to the ridge. This required a redesign of the park that resulted in a smaller overall area of development. It reduced the size of the picnic area, playground and dog park; and reduced the number of parking spaces, picnic tables and shade structures. The number of cubic yards that had to be graded was also cut significantly. In addition, because of privacy concerns from some nearby residents, a 720-foot, heavily vegetated retaining wall was added to the plan.

Later that same month, other concerns about the EIR still caused the Malibu West Homeowners Association, later taken over by the Malibu Township Council, to file suit against the city and seek an injunction to park construction. The lawsuit claimed that part of the dog park was being built on an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area. A biologist hired by the city disputed the ESHA claim, saying the park site's ecology was already ruined when it was graded and filled in the 1960s to accommodate residential development.

A legal settlement that had nothing to do with building on an ESHA was finally reached in December 2009. The MTC claimed that the ban on league play at Trancas Park could possibly be reversed by a future city council. To settle, the city wrote league play prohibition into the property title for the park. If a future city council ever wants to change the rule, they're now legally required to obtain MTC's consent.

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