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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

‘Institute’ Plans Call for Major Development North of Western Malibu

• Project’s Use of Water, Chemicals and Other Impacts on Environment Expected to Be Raised

BY BILL KOENEKER

An Environmental Impact Report being prepared to assess planned development at the Malibu Golf Club high in the hills of Malibu in the headwaters of pristine Trancas Canyon would include a remodeled 18-hole golf course on a 650-acre property and 200,000 square feet of new development, according to county documents.
The massive development in the midsection of the Santa Monica Mountains consists of 48,164 square feet of educational and meeting facilities, along with 109,164 square feet of residential development consisting of 40 residential structures, a 30,147 square foot clubhouse, pro shop and grill, support facilities including maintenance building, warehouse and golf cart storage barn.
“The project would include 224,287 square feet of structures, which would include the reuse and removal of the existing 12,475 square foot clubhouse and cart barn as part of the [Malibu ] Institute building and the removal of 11,160 square feet of existing structures for total increase of 200,652 square feet of structures on the project site,” a Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning document states.
The operations would be under the aegis of the Malibu Institute open year round and with overnight accommodations operating 24 hours per day.
The redesigned golf course would continue to operate as a public golf facility, as well as being available to guests of the Malibu Institute, according to county documents.
The 18-hole course layout would be reconfigured using the acreage of 17 of the existing holes on about 107 acres of the  118-acre golf course with the turf area reduced to appropriately 62 acres. The applicant indicates 1590 non-native species of trees planted during the original construction would be removed and the fairways would be “sand-capped.” A new generation of drought tolerant grasses would be used along with oaks and sycamores “creating a landscape pallet more consistent with the mountains.” No protected oaks would be removed.
“By clustering development of the building and accommodations on approximately 20 acres and the remodeled golf course on 107 acres in the southern portion of the 650-acre property, over 450 acres of native coastal scrub and chaparral, including oak woodland forest would be left undisturbed and become permanently dedicated open space,” a county document states.
However, the Malibu Institute website displays photos simulating the golf course property showing one and two-story homes built along the ridges of the golf course. The Institute did not respond to emails.
Grading for the buildout would consist of approximately 120,000 cubic yards of cut and 120,000 cubic yards of fill. No import or export of fill material would be required.
The multiple septic tanks throughout the property would be removed and an on-site wastewater treatment and recycling system providing effluent treatment meeting title 22 standards for reuse as irrigation for the remodeled course would be installed, according to county documents.
The project would need approval from Los Angeles County and the California Coastal Commission for a coastal permit.
The last known purchase of the facility was in September 2006, when Malibu Associates, a then newly formed LLC, acquired the property from Fuji International, Inc.
At that time investors indicated they had plans for improving the course and said they were still reviewing a number of options.
A previous owner of the course, the Church of Liberty, a Japan-based organization, caused an uproar in western Malibu when it announced plans in the mid-1980s to develop homes around the golf course.
Malibu West homeowners felt particularly threatened because of all of the storm water runoff, potential flooding and other problems they believed could find their way downstream via Trancas Canyon Creek, past their homes—some of which are located on the banks of the stream.
Additionally, Federal officials were concerned because, at the time, the National Park Service was attempting to acquire thousands of acres in the nearly pristine canyon downstream, which they have successfully done since then, for inclusion into the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Today, much of the canyon is owned by the NPS, which exerted some influence over the golf course when it needed to renew its Conditional Use Permit from the county several years ago.
Park Service officials wanted assurances that runoff from the golf course, which flows into the canyon stream, would be free from fertilizers, pesticides and other potential pollutants because of their adverse effect on water quality and wildlife.
Designed by golf course architect William Francis Bell Jr. in the late 1970s, the Malibu Country Club is described as evocative of the golf landmarks built at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Nestled in the rolling hills of the Santa Monicas, the public links provide the feel of a private or resort course at daily fees.

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