National Park Service EIR Comments Raise Concerns about Trancas Park
• City Council Excluded Information from Discussion
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
What appeared to be a crucial document for a minority of the Malibu City Council members, when the three-member majority rejected overturning an appeal of the approvals and entitlements for Trancas Park, turned out to be a detailed four-page letter from the National Park Service.
Unlike their colleagues supporting the controversial park, Councilmembers Pamela Conley Ulich and Jefferson Wagner said they believe there was new information, including the NPS letter, that warranted the council rehearing the park plans, which include 165,000 cubic yards of grading, primarily to develop space for a dog park, tot lot and access to those facilities.
At one point, Conley Ulich held up the letter and tried to draw attention to it, but the NPS input was brushed aside by some majority members who said its extensive comments, which may not have been to their liking, arrived too late for these members to be willing to consider them.
The letter is signed by Woody Smeck, the superintendent of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which oversees thousands of acres in the Trancas Canyon area.
Though the letter states Smeck and other NPS officials assume a neutral position and do not support nor oppose land development and praises the city’s efforts to provide additional recreation amenities, the comments question whether the city’s consultants have fully reviewed issues concerning biological resources, water quality and recreational and scenic resources in the Environmental Impact Report.
It notes that one issue barely, or not at all, discussed at any of the 27 meetings or public hearings is the potential water quality impacts created by a dog park.
The Park Service letter indicates concern that a dog park may seriously impact water quality at Trancas Creek, Trancas Lagoon and the westernmost area of the county beach at Zuma.
According to NPS officials, the EIR did not go far enough in analyzing design features that would reduce potential water quality impacts from the dog park.
“The draft FEIR needs to analyze potential water quality impacts from the dog park. Currently, the document only reviews potential impacts from the large balfield, with a discussion on the merits of artificial versus natural turf. There is no impact analysis for the dog park. Potential nitrogen absorption and carrying capacity of the ground beneath the proposed dog park [needs study].”
The NPS letter also takes issue with the proposed uses of a decomposed granite surface for the dog park. “Dog urine infiltration cannot be controlled. DG would not provide a substrate that could buffer the infiltration of urine into the ground. As an alternative, we encourage the city to consider material that could absorb urine and be replaced periodically,” the letter goes on to state.
Smeck indicates that NPS officials, in partnership with other agencies and organizations, is seeking funding to acquire the former Trancas Riders and Ropers property and ultimately restore the lagoon.
The letter goes on to state that the EIR should describe project design alternatives that would prevent off-site migration of nutrient pollutants. “A build-up of urine in the decomposed granite could be carried off in storm event flow or may infiltrate groundwater. The downstream recipient waterway is Trancas Creek, where the nutrients may contribute to water quality impacts, including at the Trancas Lagoon area.”
Addressing other concerns, the Park Service letter questions the appropriateness of the amount of grading and impacts to the rocky outcrop cliff side habitat.
“The grading amounts to landform alteration to conform the site to desired development at the expense of scenic, biological and water quality impacts. For example, the proposed complete removal of the rocky outcrop habitat takes away a feature of vital interest to trail users,” the SMMNRA head stated.
The NPS concludes, “Alternative three, calling for a reduced dog park, tot lot and picnic area, reduces grading and would reduce impacts in each of these categories. We suggest further evaluation of alternative three.”