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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

City Council to Consider Approval of Municipal Trails Map and Incentives to Encourage Dedications for LCPA

• Some Property Owners Cite Inadequate Notice of Inclusion

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council is scheduled to consider an updated version of the city’s trails map to be included in a Local Coastal Program Amendment at its meeting next Monday and to also consider creating development incentives for trail dedications.
“Comments have been received both in support and opposition to the proposed amendment,” wrote the city’s associate planner Joseph Smith, in a staff report to council members.
“Some of the primary concerns with respect to the proposed amendment are trail alignment locations and redundancy, and legal issues (infringements on private property, property evaluation, takings, leverage from other public agencies, and conflicts with existing LCP,” Smith added.
Some speakers told the planning commission members that the inclusion of their properties on a trails map would encumber their land, and others said the last minute addition of trails on their land gave these property owners little notice.
Planners noted that updating the trails system “has been a work in progress since [a trails] 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.”
The planning commission-recommended map includes a mix of conceptual and actual trail alignments. Further, the map demonstrates connectivity to regional trails within the Santa Monica Mountains, according to Smith, who added, “It was the intent of the planning commission and trails committee to incorporate as many trails as possible into the proposed map.”
However, some homeowners have challenged the so-called wish list saying it represents an encumbrance on their properties and that some lending institutions and escrow companies took the maps much more seriously.
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.
Smith indicated the map shows the existence of the planned California Coastal Trail, which is a statewide trial alignment mapped along the entire 1200-mile coast of California. The segment within Malibu “was included on the proposed map for conformance with the LCP and to highlight its significance.”
The exact depiction of the trail is not shown because its “exact alignment is not specifically detailed.”
“The Pacific Coast Highway bicycle lanes were not identified on the proposed map…because the proposed map is exclusive to implementing LUP Policy 2,45, which necessitates an extensive public trail system running across the Santa Monica Mountains [and] a separate policy exists within LUP Policy 2.42, which necessitates the development of a bikeways plan in the city’s coastal zone to provide safe and accessible bikeways and support facilities,” Smith noted.
Including the coastal trail, about 2737 public and private parcels are affected by the proposed trail alignments, the city planner noted.
Smith insists property owners would not be required to provide trail dedications across their property. “Trail dedications may be volunteered by the property owner or, in some cases, purchased from the property owner. This understanding is included on each proposed map page upon the insistence of the planning commission,” the planner noted. “The proposed map is intended to be a conceptual document to be used for future trail planning efforts.”
The council is also being asked to deal with another LCPA, 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 the city planner.
The key word, according to the associate planner, is feasible.
“Feasibility includes a host of issues that need to be evaluated. Can the parcel or alignment location physically support the trail? Can it be used in a feasible manner typical to other trails in the area? Are there physical obstructions that will prevent public access along the trail? In addition, feasibility also includes an analysis of the OTD or easement’s connectivity to existing or planned trails in the area. Does it make sense for an OTD or easement to be located on the subject parcel? Does it appear to be isolated and lacks connectivity? Is adequate access already provided nearby?” Smith wrote.

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