Trancas Highlands water system approved

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Residents in the area hope the system will eliminate the need to truck in water, which they have been doing for years, and provide greater protection from fires. Also, planning commission vice-chair Lisa Toledo announced she is leaving the commission, and the old Chevron service station on Pacific Coast Highway will be demolished.

By Homaira Shifa / Special to the Malibu Times

“This is a miracle,” was what one Trancas resident expressed immediately after the Planning Commission unanimously approved a Coastal Development Permit for construction of a new water system and the construction of a new home in the Trancas Highlands last week.

Almost all Trancas Highlands residents showed up to the meeting fiercely advocating their need for a new water system. Protection from hazardous fires was the primary concern voiced by residents.

“We have been through many fires,” Margaret Hauptman said, who has lived in the Trancas Highlands neighborhood since 1976. “We have tried so hard to get the approvals, but it’s been one road block after another.”

Currently, most of the homes in the neighborhood rely on private wells and individual storage tanks supplied by water trucks every day. But, many residents worry because the wells have dried out.

“We just want water. It’s a basic need,” Hauptman said. “The wells have dried up. We need to protect ourselves from fires.”

“Almost 100% of the entire neighborhood is here,” Scott Tallal, president of Trancas Highlands Homeowners Association (THHOA), said.

The THHOA plans to construct a 500,000-gallon water storage tank and a 2,100-foot access road at 31537 Anacapa View Drive.

The Planning Commission approved the construction of a new two-story home at 31537 Anacapa View Drive, where the owners have agreed to allow the water tank to be placed on the property, said Don Schmitz, a land-use consultant representing the THHOA and the owners of the property.

The water from the tank can be distributed through water lines by gravity flow to individual properties. A booster pump station to fill the new water tank will be located near the existing Los Angeles County Waterworks District No. 29 water tank facility at Trancas Canyon Park.

THHOA estimates the assessment district would encompass 209 acres and 66 parcels.

“The water tank will provide a much needed source of potable water and fire protection,” Schmitz said. “There would be 18 fire hydrants.”

Trancas Highlands resident Kent Krings showed pictures of what the neighborhood looked like during the 2003 fires. “We need to do whatever it takes for better fire protection in this area,” Krings said.

An additional “dry” trench is also proposed for undergrounding existing overhead electric lines and extension of utilities such as natural gas and cable. Once underground utilities are installed, overhead lines and poles would be removed.

The THHOA Chief Financial Officer Eric Myer has lived in the Trancas area for 17 years and spoke about the urgent need for municipal water.

“The neighborhood has raised more than $100,000 to move the project forward,” Myer said. “Now is the time for the city of Malibu to do the right thing and grant the CDP.”

The water system and utility plans would be designed in compliance with Water District 29, Los Angeles County Fire Department, City of Malibu and utility provider requirements.

The Planning Commission also approved the full demolition of the Chevron gas and service station located at 23614 Pacific Coast Highway, including all structures, piping, pumps, hydraulic lifts, hardscape and signage, and the removal of four 10,000-gallon underground gasoline and diesel storage tanks.

Lisa Toledo, former vice-chair of the Planning Commission, announced that she is stepping down from her position.

“I have sold my home in Malibu and am moving to the valley to be closer to my daughter,” Toledo said. “I enjoyed my experience here very much. The city of Malibu is very lucky to have the staff that they have. I will miss all of you.”