Parks commission OKs league play for proposed Trancas park

An aerial view of the Trancas Park site and surrounding use areas.

The park will include a multiuse sports field, picnic area and dog park. The draft environmental impact report is available for public review and comment through May 19.

By Vicky Shere / Special to The Malibu Times

Acting on a request made last December by the City Council, the Malibu’s Parks and Recreation Commission recommended that the council permit league play on the proposed Trancas Canyon Park Multi-Use Sports Field.

Last Thursday’s 3-1 vote to not limit the use of the sports field to practice comes as the review period for the draft environmental impact report for the proposed park on city-owned land east of Trancas Canyon Road ends May 19.

With groans of disappointment from the 20-member audience, commissioners Madonna Slattery, Pat Greenwood and Douglas O’Brien overrode Dermot Stoker’s objections and voted to recommend the 1.7-acre sports field have no limits on its use. Commissioner Paul Spiegel was not present.

“Bluffs Park works so well [for league play] because no neighborhood is impacted,” Stoker said, buttressing complaints by West Malibu residents, whose homes are below the 13.5-acre site, of future traffic and noise.

“We’re concerned about traffic, noise, safety and trash,” said Mark Wetton, a 10-year Trancas Canyon Road resident. “We already have busses. There’ll be more traffic with the expected expansion of the HOWS supermarket [in the Trancas Country Market shopping center].”

Speaking to applause, Justine Petretti, president of Friends of Trancas, said the 2000 Parks and Recreation Master Plan called for a number of pocket parks and implored the commission to vote against league play.

Noting that the park design in the DEIR comes from almost two years of community workshops, Stoker said, “This commission is a conduit from the community to the City Council. You will get into hot water [with this decision.] Allowing league play goes against the fact sheet disseminated to residents of Malibu West, Malibu Park and Broad Beach when the project was proposed.”

The Trancas Park Fact Sheet calls for “youth sports activities, primarily practices.”

Other commissioners didn’t agree with Stoker.

“We represent everyone [in the community], not just segments,” Commission Vice Chair Greenwood said. “The fact sheet will not necessarily be voted on by the City Council.”

According to the agenda item prepared by Parks and Recreation Director Bob Stallings, the council asked for the commission to develop a recommendation defining the permitted use of the sports field for the council’s consideration.

“We should start this debate with the attitude of a great new park funded by money from the total city for the totality of use,” Greenwood said. “I’m not advocating games, just not limiting the use.”

The self-described soccer grandmother added that the DEIR doesn’t appear to list greater environmental impact with league play than with practice, while the parks master plan states there’s a deficit in sports fields.

To the guffaws of audience members, O’Brien, a veteran supporter of Malibu Little League said, “Baseball is not a noisy sport to watch.”

He took exception to the fact sheet, which excludes “skinned infield areas or permanent amenities such as backstops or goals.”

Responding to comments from the audience, which included Planning Commissioner Les Moss, that the park was near a small residential neighborhood, O’Brien retorted, “You are in a canyon. The park is higher up.”

Only one of eight speakers came out strongly in favor of league play. Vera Canyon resident Honey Conroy Kanter remarked, “A sports field just for practice is like a theater that only shows previews.”

In making her motion not to limit permitted uses, Commission Chair Slattery said, “We don’t have enough sports fields in Malibu. There will be a dog park, picnic area and playground. Spending that kind of money [estimated at $3.1 million] without allowing games would be a shame. Let’s not limit ourselves by putting in writing that the field should only be used for practice.”

In a related development, and in response to an e-mail question from The Malibu Times, City Attorney Christi Hogin replied that the city is continuing to work with Richard Ackerman, who owns the 24-acre Crummer property adjacent to Bluffs Park, on a development proposal which involves the building of a ball field for the city. According to a City Council discussion last May, Ackerman, at his expense, would build a ball field and create open space areas; and the Bluffs Park parking area would be expanded by 35 spaces in return for Ackerman building five homes.

The Trancas Canyon Park DEIR is available for review on the city’s Web site,; at City Hall, where the CD can be purchased for $3; and the Malibu Library. The review period ends May 19.