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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Council Looks at City Trails Map and Incentives for Dedications to Include in New LCP Amendment

• Additions and Deletions Rankle Some

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council is scheduled to consider an updated version of the city’s trails map at its meeting on Monday, April 25 and to also consider creating development incentives for trail dedications.
When the matter was heard by the planning commission, which recommended approval after making its own modifications, the discussion and deliberations were focused on two main issues when the discussion turned to the updating of the trails map
Panelists were asked to carefully review some of the trails that were added by staff planners after the trails committee had handed in their final work product.
Some speakers told the planning panel the inclusion of their properties on a trails map would encumber their land and others said the last minute additions of such trails gave property owners little notice.
The task for the city council is to review the city’s updated Parkland and Trails Systems Map into the Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan and General Plan Open Space and Recreation Element and to decide if it also wanted to approve another Local Coastal Program Amendment that would consist of relaxing some development standards to create building incentives for trail dedications.
Planners and trail committee members acknowledged that updating the trails system “has been a work in progress since the committee was first created in 1999.”
The committee had worked for years to produce what they describe as an accurate assessment of historical, existing and future planned trails throughout the city. Committee members and staff planners acknowledged the final map is a “wish list.”
It was the trails committee’s intent to incorporate as many trails as possible into the proposed map with the understanding that some of the trail segments may never be built.
However, some homeowners have challenged the so-called wish list saying it represented an encumbrance on their properties and that some lending institutions and escrow companies took the maps much more seriously.
“Future buyers and [others] go berserk,” said Malibu architect Ed Niles. “I don’t want my future family burdened with an imaginary line on my property.”
The proposed map includes 121 miles of trails within city limits which includes a 22-mile segment of the California Coastal Trail.
The trails are mapped along public and private streets, property lines and bisect some parcels. Including the coastal trail, about 2737 public and private parcels are affected by the proposed trail alignments.
However, what has generated the most controversy was the recommended six changes to the trail committee’s adopted map including adding the Encinal Creek Trail between Pacific Coast Highway and the beach near West Sea Level Drive.
The panel debated whether to delete the Encinal Creek Trail, which it ultimately did not do.
They subsequently agreed to include the West Sea Level and East Sea Level Rd trail which the trails committee did not include, since its charge was trails landside of the Pacific Coast Highway.
The Escondido Connector Trail was also added to the map by the staff and was also requested by the MRCA staff.
However, it too, was blasted by property owners who said they are building or are currently planning on building homes in or near the proposed trail.
The commission agreed the trail could be realigned and agreed to keep it included on the trails map.
Another trail deleted by the staff after a recommendation from the National Park Service was the El Nido Trail.
However, a trails committee member sought to have the trail put back on the map. The commission agreed to include it on the map.
The panel also dealt with the issue of offering building incentives for those who offer a trail dedication.
The planning commission approved recommending the city council adopt a LCPA to create development incentives for trail dedications.
The purpose of the amendment, according to municipal planners, is to create an incentives plan for trail dedications offered within the city that would establish a new discretionary request called a trail dedication incentive or TDI that would be available to property owners seeking to provide a trail dedication as part of a residential development application.
The TDI would not be available for commercial properties.
The TDI would allow “minor deviations” from required development standards in exchange for an offer to dedicate or OTD or direct grant of a trail easement, according to city planners.
Don Schmitz, who is the chair of the city’s trails committee and a land use consultant said there were several “significant differences,” between what the committee handed in and what the planning panel got from the staff.
Schmitz said those were the percentage of the deviation and special accommodations for unique important links to allow greater incentives,

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