Trancas billboard shot down

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Malibu West neighbors demonstrate the size of proposed signage for the Trancas County Market shopping center.

The Malibu Planning Commission dealt developers a strong blow Monday night, unanimously rejecting a signage plan that would have kept a 167-square-foot rooftop sign at the Trancas Country Market in western Malibu.

The commission also vetoed plans to remove three sycamore trees on Trancas Canyon Road that would have created space for four angled parking spaces at the center.

About 40 neighbors argued successfully that the sign plan called for unnecessarily oversized signs that would impede upon western Malibu’s rural character. The shopping center has been undergoing a major overhaul for several months.

“You really don’t need very large signs for a center of this type,” commission chair Jeff Jennings said. “Part of what you’re hearing from the audience tonight is signs on a smaller, lower scale would be more acceptable.”

The owner of the shopping center, Zuma Beach Properties, had requested to have three existing signs grandfathered into the new center: a Starbucks sign, a monument tenant sign and a 167-squarefoot rooftop sign for the defunct “HOWS Trancas Market.”

The applicant’s attorney, Clare Bronowski, argued that the former HOWS sign should stay because the shopping center in the past had been known as “Trancas Market” and the sign applied to the center as a whole.

“The shopping center has always been under single ownership,” Bronowski told the commission. “It’s had multiple tenants and the Trancas Market [rooftop] identification has benefited all those tenants.”

Neighbors ridiculed that argument, maintaining that the rooftop fixture had always displayed the name of a grocery store, not the name of the entire shopping center.

“The sign above the shopping center has always said ‘grocery store,’ it has never said ‘shopping center,’” Malibu West resident Hans Laetz said. “…Yeah, everyone referred to Trancas Market as Trancas Market, but here we’re talking, what did that sign say over the last decades? The sign said grocery, deli, bakery. It said ‘HOWS Trancas Market Deli Bakery,’ there can be no question about that.”

The commission voted down the master sign plan “without prejudice,” which gives the applicant a chance to wipe the slate clean and come up with a new master sign plan using feedback from the Planning Commission and city staff.

Once the plan is reworked and brought back, commissioners said they would likely allow a 16-foot monument tenant sign and a 36-square-foot Starbucks sign to remain but asked for detailed mockups in any subsequent master sign proposal.

The commission additionally vetoed plans to remove three sycamore trees on Trancas Canyon Road that would have created space for four angled parking spaces at the center.

Opponents cited an alreadyexisting danger of parked cars backing up onto Trancas Canyon Road into oncoming traffic.

$8.3 million Fire Station 71 overhaul approved

The planning commission approved an $8.3 million overhaul of Los Angeles County Fire Station 71 in western Malibu, along with plans to construct a temporary site for the displaced firefighters at a Zuma Beach helipad.

The current station, which was built in 1939 on a half-acre parcel in the Point Dume area just north of the Pacific Coast Highway-Zumirez Drive intersection, is in disrepair and too small to meet current firefighting needs, according to the department. The county will more than double the size of the facility, from 2,260 to 5,800 square feet.

The project will not increase staff size but will add six individual dorms and separate male and female showers, expanding living quarters from 1,700 square feet to 3,500 square feet. Private dormitories and showers are required to employ male and female firefighters, according to the county’s application.

The proposed project would also expand an apparatus bay to house an extra fire engine, which is currently parked outside, as well as build an ADA-compatible access ramp and a storage shed, among other features.

The project is expected to break ground in July, and take one year to build.

During that time, county officials now have permission to move the station’s facilities and a five-person crew to a temporary site at the Zuma Beach helipad. The helipad will be restriped, and “minor site and street access improvements” will be made to PCH to allow a fire engine and other emergency vehicles to enter and leave the parking lot.

The firefighters will be housed in two 12 by 56 foot temporary modular buildings.