Trancas Country Market Plans to Go Before Planning Commission
• National Park Service Adds Its Voice to Growing Ranks Seeking Environmental Impact Report for the Project
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
A National Park Service official indicates an Environmental Impact Report may be necessary for the planned expansion at the Trancas Country Market. The Malibu Planning Commission is scheduled to consider permits and entitlements for the proposal at its meeting on Tuesday, July 21.
However, Acting Planning Manager Stefanie Edmondson said this week that the planning panel would take no action on the agenda item, but would make recommendations to the city council, which could take action at another public hearing.
A letter from the Park Service spelled out the agency’s stance on why an EIR is required.
“Overall, we find the Initial Study needs to disclose more information and include more analysis with respect to the subject property’s suitability for environmental restoration. We find the Mitigated Negative Declaration insufficiently presents the project’s setting in the context of the Malibu Local Coastal Program’s goals and objectives. An Environmental Impact Report may be necessary to adequately evaluate a range of alternatives for utilizing the site,” wrote Woody Smeck, the superintendent of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, who noted NPS officials cannot support or oppose land development.
The application is for the remodel and expansion of the existing shopping center, including a 37,372-square-foot addition to the existing commercial center located on the corner of Trancas Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway.
Besides coastal and conditional use permits, the current plans need a site plan review for construction in excess of 18 feet, a variance for grading in excess of 3000 cubic yards, a variance for the reduction of a required side yard setback and a minor modification to reduce the required front yard setback by 50 percent.
Smeck, who acknowledges the NPS is attempting to acquire Trancas Lagoon and restore it, notes that the city’s current review does not take into account the restoration potential of the lagoon. The federal agency has applied for grant money to acquire and restore the property in the Trancas Creek stream channel and the portion of the parcel east of the creek.
Though Dan Bercu, who heads up ownership of the shopping center property, has become a willing seller, the application nevertheless includes a free-standing building on or near the lagoon property.
“The Initial Study does not mention possible restoration of the former lagoon and the tremendous opportunity for public access and environmental education,” the NPS letter states. However, the city in 2008 provided a letter of support for grant-funded acquisition efforts.
Smeck notes the environmental review process should acknowledge the value of restoring Trancas Lagoon and the best format for such a review is an EIR. “An EIR would explore a range of development alternatives that address the applicant’s project goals along the city’s and the greater community’s goals, including the restoration opportunity,” he added.
The SMMNRA superintendent spelled out restoration plans, if the property is acquired by the feds, including removal of the artificial fill terrace on the eastern bank to recreate the original lagoon, stabilizing stream erosion on both sides of the creek, removal of non-native invasive plant species and refurbishing the existing trail system.
Surfside Way residents, whose homes are on a bluff directly above the planned stand-alone center of proposed stores and offices on the former Riders and Ropers site have taken issue with that portion of the property being developed, complaining the buildout of the eastside of the currently zoned residential property would result in noise, offer an eyesore, produce more trash, result in more night lights and further congest traffic in the intersection.
They too are suggesting in numerous personal correspondences to the city that an EIR is required for a “commercial center of this size.”