Developer seeks 62 homes at Trancas Field

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Developer Trancas PCH, LLC has filed an application with the City of Malibu to develop 35 acres (outlined in green above) of Trancas Field with 62 homes. Pacific Coast Highway is visible along the bottom left of the photo. 

Developer Trancas PCH, LLC has resurrected its controversial plan to build a complex of condominiums in Trancas Field, off Pacific Coast Highway, more than six years after a judge ordered it to stop suing the city in a drawn-out court saga. 

A July 18 application seeks permission to change the site’s existing rural residential zoning in order to develop 35.19 acres of land to build 62 homes. 

The proposed development consists of 46 detached single-family residences, 16 duplexes and a community wastewater treatment plant. 21.7 acres would be donated to the City of Malibu for public recreational use, including a ball field, soccer field and 69-space parking lot. The applicant also proposes to offer up to 50 homeowners on Broad Beach, across the PCH to the south of the site, the opportunity to connect to the wastewater treatment plant for a fee. 

A previous attempt by Trancas PCH to build 32 homes on the property in 2003 failed after four years of litigation between the developer, a group of Broad Beach homeowners and the City of Malibu. 

Malibu Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski said because the application was only submitted recently, it could take some time before it reaches a public hearing. 

“Depending on how long it takes the applicant to complete their application, it is likely that this process will not begin for five or six months,” she added. 

First the application must be reviewed for completeness, Parker-Bozylinski said. 

In order for the application to be considered complete, the project must receive approval from the city geologist, the environmental health administrator, Public Works and the Fire Department, a process that can take months. Assuming the project meets those benchmarks, an environmental impact report would be prepared, followed by a public hearing. 

Some residents are not happy to see the plan proposed again. 

“We are dead set against it, and we will fight it because it’s wrong,” said Marshall Grossman, a member of the Trancas Property Owners Association. The group represents property owners on nearby Broad Beach, and sued Trancas PCH several times in the past to stop the plans. 

Victor De La Cruz, a land use attorney with Los Angeles firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLC is listed as the representative of Trancas PCH on the project’s application. De La Cruz did not return multiple telephone calls and emails for comment from The Malibu Times on the project. 

In prior years, a developer named Dean Isaacson represented Trancas PCH to the public, but it is unknown whether Isaacson is involved with the recent application. 

The journey of lawsuits and conflicts the parcel has been through is long even by Malibu standards. The county approved tract maps for the previous property owner in 1980 and 1985, allowing for the construction of 52 town homes and 15 houses. Trancas PCH received coastal development permits for the project in 1981, 1989 and 1992. But a Court of Appeal decision in 2001 sided with the Trancas Property Owners Association and invalidated the coastal permits. The city also fought with Trancas PCH for several years over the validity of the county-approved tract maps, with the developer winning two of the battles in court during the ’90s. 

Then, in 2003, the city and Trancas PCH reached a deal where the developer would be allowed to build 32 townhomes and donate a portion of the property to the city for ball fields. The Trancas Property Owners Association immediately filed a lawsuit to nix the deal on various grounds. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled against the property owners in 2004. But a Court of Appeal overturned the decision in 2005, citing, among other things, that the City Council had violated the state’s open-meeting law (the Brown Act) in reaching the deal. The next year, the same court affirmed its decision. In 2007, a Superior Court Judge ruled the case should be barred from further litigation as it would be best for both sides.