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Coastal Commission to decide on two Malibu issues

Pictured is a map showing the eastern vertical and lateral beach access ways in Malibu. Photos submitted
Pictured is a vertical easement at Malibu Road.
Pictured is a private beach above the mean high tide line.
Suzanne Guldimann, Staff Writer
1:54 pm PDT July 8, 2014

The California Coastal Commission is scheduled to hear two Malibu-related issues on Thursday, July 10, in the City of Ventura. The first is the Local Implementation Plan portion of the Local Coastal Program for the Santa Monica Mountains in unincorporated Los Angeles County; the second is a proposed amendment to the City of Malibu’s LCP concerning public beach easements.

The Commission approved the first phase of the Santa Monica Mountains LCP earlier this year, and the LIP is expected to pass, but with the addition of numerous modifications suggested by CCC staff. Most of the proposed changes are intended to clarify the language of the document, but some of the suggestions include additional environmental protections, including a new provision that  prohibits “the use of pesticides, rodenticides, fumigants and other synthetic substances in areas with existing crop-based agriculture.” 

The proposed ban on new vineyards is expected to remain in place, despite pressure from lobbyists, including local vineyard owners. 

Some changes to the LCP requested by the equestrian community have been incorporated, including a grace period for non-conforming facilities, but restrictions on pasture size and location and horse facility night lighting remain part of the final draft. The LIP stresses water quality and native vegetation concerns as well as placing a priority on preserving dark skies.

The Santa Monica Mountains LCP has garnered praise from many environment groups and agencies. Proponents of the LCP greatly outnumbered opponents at the earlier CCC hearing and a large contingent of local activists is expected to be present on July 10.

The proposed Malibu public beach easement LCP amendment is also scheduled to be heard on July 10. It would add 120 recorded lateral public access ways to the City’s official Public Access Map to show a total of 529 recorded lateral public access ways within the City of Malibu, the Coastal Commission staff report states. 

Lateral access ways are located along the shore, and “should include a minimum of 25 feet of dry sand at all times of the year or the entire sandy area if the beach is less than 25 feet,” according to CCC access standards. 

“They should not extend further inland than any shoreline protective structures; nor should they come closer than 10 feet to an existing single-family home.”

A vertical access way is “an area of land connecting the first landward public road, trail, or use area with a public beach or lateral access way, used to get people to the shore,” according to the standards. “Vertical accessways should be a minimum 10 feet wide” and, in urban areas, “should be located where streets end at the shoreline, once every six parcels, or up to once every 500 feet.”

There are 36 recorded public access ways within the City of Malibu. The City has not obtained any new vertical public access ways since its LCP was adopted, the staff report states, “Instead, the LCP amendment includes revisions intended to clarify the location and extent of existing vertical public access ways. In addition to updating public access information, the City proposes to revise the graphic layout of the Public Access Map and modify the map legend to re-name the categories of information shown and to utilize a different color scheme to depict the categories.”

Staff recommends that the Commission deny the proposed City of Malibu LCP Amendment as submitted and approve only if modified pursuant to suggested modifications. 

The proposed modifications include a bewildering array of corrections, ranging from mapping errors, to proposed changes in the colors used on the maps, to addressing artifacts created by the GIS mapping software. 

According to the staff report, several easements have been incorrectly drawn or labeled on the maps. The process highlights the complexity of the LCP process, but the amendment is expected to be approved with the required modifications.

Both items will be heard on Thursday, July 10, at Ventura City Hall, 501 Poli St. #109, Ventura, CA 93001. The meeting will also be streamed live on  www.coastal.ca.gov.