Deadline to submit comments on MRCA’s proposed Malibu campsite plan is Dec. 16

The window is closing for community residents to submit written comments and questions by email or regular mail to the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA) on their proposed overnight camping plans for Malibu. Officially titled the “Malibu Lower-Cost Accommodations Public Works Plan for Malibu Bluffs and Ramirez Canyon Park,” the agency wants to allow up to 480 overnight campers in Malibu Bluffs Park and up to 80 overnight campers in Ramirez Canyon Park.

Written comments from the public are being solicited in preparation for the MRCA’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project. The EIR will be used by the MRCA when considering approval of the plan, and by other agencies. 

The written comment and question period began on Oct. 17 and will end shortly on Dec. 16. 

The MRCA refers to the ballfields area that Malibu manages as “Malibu Bluffs Park,” and calls the adjacent 84-acre natural area it manages as “Malibu Bluffs.” Only the northwestern portion of the 84 acres, which the MRCA says is outside ESHA (environmentally sensitive habitat area), would be developed.

The proposed project, all within the city limits of Malibu, would include “flameless” camping facilities consisting of 8-12 yurts (10-12 people per yurt), 16-20 tent cabins (6-8 people per cabin), and 18-22 tent pad sites (6-8 people per site). The proposed infrastructure for this many campers is 30-40 parking spaces, restrooms, picnic tables, amphitheater, a ranger residence, medical building, office, kitchen, pedestrian and vehicle bridges, water storage tanks, fire hydrants, and fire extinguishers.

In addition, the MRCA wants to upgrade walking paths and trails, signage, landscaping, and coastal overlooks. It would also require the clearing of additional native vegetation to reduce wildfire hazards.

The Ramirez Canyon Park site, with the entrance at 5350 Kanan Dume Road, is on 45 acres of unincorporated LA County and Malibu land. The MRCA proposes putting 7-10 “flameless” tent pad sites (6-8 people per site) there. Added infrastructure would include 36-42 parking spots, restrooms, picnic areas, fire hydrants and fire extinguishers; as well as utility trenching and grading to install utility lines.

The project would also include improving existing trails and paths, landscaping, and signage. Additional native vegetation would have to be cleared to reduce wildfire hazards.

MRCA claims that no Sensitive Environmental Resource Areas (SERA) would be disturbed at Ramirez, because the proposed project area would be “located on previously disturbed and graded building pads within the western portion of the site.”

Anyone deciding to write a comment letter on this project needs to focus on one or more of the possible environmental impact areas of the project that the state recognizes; also known as the CEQA checklist: aesthetics, biology, greenhouse gas emissions, land use/ planning, population/ housing, transportation/ traffic, forestry, tribal cultural resources, hazards/hazardous materials, minerals, public services, utilities/service systems, air quality, geology/ soils, hydrology/ water quality, noise, and recreation.

At the very end of 2018, the CEQA guidelines were revised to add two new topics: energy use and wildfire. Comment letters with questions related to fire hazard impacts for projects located in “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (VHFHSZ)” must now be considered — and both of the proposed campgrounds are in VHFHSZs. 

Comment letters should not just list complaints — to be more effective, they need to raise one or more specific issues, and then ask what the MRCA would do to mitigate them. The agency is required to answer questions.

Email comments and questions to public.comments@mrca.ca.gov  OR send by regular mail to:

Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority

RE: Malibu Lower-Cost Accommodations Public Works Plan. 

Attn: Mario Sandoval, Project Manager. 

26800 Mulholland Highway

Calabasas, CA 91302

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