MRCA Pushes Back, Fighting for Permit to Build Home in Sycamore Park

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MRCA picnic table and trash can at Sycamore Park in April 2018

The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) is not taking the planning commission’s “no” for an answer. Back in June, the commission denied a permit extension the MRCA requested to construct a single-family residence on land purchased in the Sycamore Park neighborhood in 2017. On Friday, the authority filed an appeal, stating that the decision was unfair.

On June 18, the Malibu Planning Commission denied a request from the MRCA to extend the deadline on its permit to construct a 4,184-square-foot house, 510-square-foot guest house and 765-square-foot garage on its lot at 6118 Via Escondido, in Sycamore Park.

Residents of the neighborhood have united to try to block the MRCA from plans to open up the neighborhood to visitors, using the residentially-zoned parcel as a trailhead or park. Those residents cited earlier claims made by the MRCA’s representatives that they were purchasing the land—with water bond money—to ensure it would never be developed into housing.

Those residents appeared at the June 18 meeting to question why the MRCA was now fighting for permits to construct a home on the land—a request which the planning commission denied in a unanimous, 5-0, vote.

According to the MRCA’s appeal, the authority believes “the findings or conditions are not supported by the evidence … and there was a lack of impartial hearing.”

In the appeal documents, the MRCA stated that it could not move forward with its plans because it could not physically reach the property to begin preliminary work, saying “its ability to simply access, visit and inspect the property has been continuously limited due to unpermitted development of a security gate and security guard by neighboring residents in the community.”

Another issue raised by MRCA was regarding the planning commission’s interpretation of a trash can and picnic table, which appeared on the property after Joseph Edmiston of the MRCA began publicizing the plot as a trailhead.

Responding to the planning commission’s finding that the MRCA’s placement of a trash can and picnic table on the property reflects “an elective project redesign that would entirely change the land use from the current entitlement”—in other words, that it appears clear the MRCA was not intending to use the property to construct a home—the authority responded that “in any other situation, the placement of a trash can and picnic table within such a development would clearly fall well within the scope of the existing CDP.”

MRCA representatives also stated the City of Malibu “has demonstrated a clear bias towards the MRCA over the recent months, calling into question its ability to render a fair and impartial hearing on this CDP extension request.”