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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Rambla Pacifico Road Is Back on Malibu City Council Agenda Again

• Staff Recommends Vacating Sections

BY BILL KOENEKER


The on-again, off-again, now on-again scheduling of a Malibu City Council hearing on vacating segments of Rambla Pacifico Road is set for a meeting next week.
For months the city’s Public Works Department has stated the city was ready to consider vacating its easements to the mountain roadway.
But the agenda item has continually been delayed.
Most recently, despite a staff report recommending the council could go forward with a vacation of the road, the council delayed the matter for another month.
Previous to that, the city attorney sought to postpone the hearing. More than a half-dozen hearings have been scheduled and subsequently postponed, some without explanation.
The Lower Rambla Pacifico Road Owners Association is trying to put in a private emergency access road to reopen Rambla Pacifico Road, but keeps running into legal roadblocks.
A public works report recommends the city vacate the road and indicates the city is prepared to do that now.
The staff report, prepared by the city’s senior engineer, states municipal officials have finalized the legal description and associated map stating, “We are ready to vacate the road easement.”
The LRPROA had pleaded with the city council, at still another meeting, to not go forward with the vacation until they finished their road.
However, the current staff report states otherwise. “The project applicants have repeatedly been advised and always understood that the road vacation, was necessary in order to construct, operate and maintain a private roadway,” the report states.
“Recently it has been mentioned by LRPROA representatives that they would like to have the city not vacate the roadway at this time, but wait until the entire private road has been constructed.”
The public works report states that city has also received requests to determine if the city can sell its easement or transfer the easement to other parties or even retain some municipal rights to the roadway for trail easements.
The report insists the city’s road easement does not give the city the legal right to permit the construction of a private road. “Moreover, the city can only retain the easement or vacate the easement. The public road easement cannot be transferred to individual private parties nor can it be sold by the city.”
The ROA has continued to work on the road, except during the rains and a section near the La Costa property where the city issued a stop work order, according to City Manager Jim Thorsen.
The staff report recommends the city not retain the public road easement or obtain any other easements within the roadway as the street would then be subject to public road standards and the road must be accessible to the public at large.
Otherwise, the city might incur liability or be partially liable or perceived to be responsible for private hillside and roadway operations and maintenance, according to the report.
“Should the underlying road rights not belong to the LRPROA, then they are able to negotiate any necessary easements or land acquisition,” the engineer’s report concluded.

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