Trancas Park opponents, city reach deal


The city gives the Malibu Township Council an “unusual” power, city attorney says, by allowing the unelected body to have control over banning league play in the future at the park.

By Jonathan Friedman / Special to The Malibu Times

The ban on league play at the Trancas Canyon Park, which is under construction, received an extra layer of protection as part of a legal settlement between the city and the Malibu Township Council. Details of the settlement were announced at a special city council meeting on Tuesday morning. Four council members supported the agreement, while Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich slammed the deal.

The agreement includes two features that are supposed to satisfy the concern of the MTC and the Malibu West Homeowners Association (which contributed to the cost of the MTC’s lawsuit). The league play prohibition is now written against the property title for the park. If any future city council body wants to change the rule, it must receive the MTC’s consent. City Attorney Christi Hogin told the council the MTC now has an “unusual” power.

Councilmember Andy Stern said in an interview after the meeting that the settlement was a victory for the city.

“We had already banned league play,” Stern said. “As far as I’m concerned, we gave up nothing.”

Stern said the situation was “a lot of wasted money on litigation,” and added that he believed had the case gone to court, the MTC would have lost.

MTC President Steve Uhring had a different take on the settlement, saying it serves the needs of the Malibu West homeowners. “Their concern all along was they wanted to get a park up there that sort of fit into the land and enabled them to maintain the rural character of the neighborhood,” Uhring said. “We believe this agreement now allows them to do that.”

Uhring said this “should be the end of the lawsuit.”

He added, “We probably would have liked to have seen a smaller park. But we’re happy with where we are today.”

Conley Ulich, who has been vocally opposed to a ban on league play, said she was bothered that the settlement gives a rare power to an unelected body.

“I was extremely disappointed that the elected officials decided to give the Malibu Township Council, an unelected body, the ability to determine how to use the city’s own park that we’re spending over $3 million on,” Conley Ulich said.

Stern said he was not surprised Conley Ulich would oppose the deal because of her support for league play at the park. “She is trying to stall the process until a new council comes in [two new council members will be elected on April 13 as Mayor Sharon Barovsky and Stern will be termed-out],” Stern said.

Although league play will not be allowed at the park, which is expected to be completed in March, sports practices will take place there. The park is located at a 13.5-acre site off Trancas Canyon Road, about a half-mile north of Pacific Coast Highway. When finished, it will include a multiuse sports field. Other features of the facility are a dog park, picnic area, tot-lot, parking area and accessory buildings.

An on site wastewater treatment system and a storm water detention basin will also be included.