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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

City Planning Commission Approves Design Changes for Rambla Pacifico Road Rebuild

• ROA Succeeds in Getting Amendment to Coastal Permit

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Lower Rambla Pacifico Road Owners Association went back before the Malibu Planning Commission last week seeking an amendment to their coastal permit for design changes to the road construction.
The planning panel approved a redesign that allows for building two retaining walls, one 18-foot-high wall and one eight-foot high wall, along the edge of the approved roadway.
During construction of the roadway, according to the staff report, grading occurred outside of the LRPROA easement and encroached onto the Malibu La Costa Owners’ Association property addressed as 3850 Rambla Pacifico.
As the grading on the property was not approved by the MLCOA, a stop work order was issued by the city. Since that time, the ROA submitted plans to restore the cut areas on the La Costa property and everyone agreed about the scope of work.
“However, the two parties could not come to an agreement regarding additional grading on the MLCOA property, which could have resulted in allowing the two approved gravity retaining walls along the edge of the MLCOA property to be buried beneath finished grade. Without an agreement to complete grading outside of the roadway easement on the MLCOA property, the exposed gravity retaining walls will measure 18 feet and eight feet in height as measured from finish to grade.
“Since the finished height of the two retaining walls exceeds the maximum height allowed under [coastal plan], they could not be found in substantial conformance with the walls approved under the coastal permit. Therefore an amendment to the approved permit with the inclusion of a variance from the maximum retaining wall height permitted in the [coastal plan] is necessary to move forward with roadway construction,” wrote Senior Planner Stephanie Danner.
Danner concluded that due to the fixed location of the roadway easement and the existing topographic conditions in the area along the lower portion of the reconstruction area, the height of the proposed gravity retaining walls is necessary to construct the roadway approved under the coastal permit approved by the planning commission.
The commission also granted approval for the installation of drainage improvements.
The proposal is located along two parcels entirely within the Rambla Pacifico Road right-of-way, according to city documents.
Last December, the road association appeared before the city council, which approved vacating a portion of Rambla Pacifico Road, and agreeing to take a non-vehicular access for public use across the vacated right- of-way.
As the city attorney explained it, the ROA is going to give the city the easement for a non-vehicular trail.
The LRPROA is trying to put in a private emergency access road to reopen Rambla Pacifico Road.
The vacation action or rather inaction was marked by fits and starts with the various hearings being scheduled and postponed for the last several months.
The ROA had pleaded with the city to not take action on vacating a portion of the road until they were finished with the roadwork.
The ROA has stumbled into several legal roadblocks, including finding evidence of who owned what on the easements and underlying easements, which complicated matters for the ROA and the city.
The city attorney acknowledged that various parties had raised concerns about ownership of the property owners easements and the ownership interests of the ROA.
“It is still ongoing,” the city attorney said at the time, but noted that claims that the road easements would revert to the adjacent property owners appeared to not be true. “It is unfolding as the ROA said it would,” the city attorney added.
The ROA has sought to construct an alternative access road for decades, following a landslide that permanently blocked access between the upper and lower portions of the canyon road from Pacific Coast Highway.

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