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Plans for Updated Lighting at Trancas Country Market Draw Criticism

The plans include a parking lot with 43 pole mounted lights, 12 to 20 feet tall at the Trancas Country Market in Malibu.

Plans for renovations and updated lighting at the Trancas Country Market are drawing some concerns from neighbors at Malibu West.

A public hearing on a request to amend a coastal development permit for the market's previously approved lighting plan will likely not be heard until the Nov. 19 Planning Commission meeting at Malibu City Hall.

The early design of the plans include a parking lot with 43 pole mounted lights, 12 to 20 feet tall.

"The lighting concept plan further indicates that the developer's goal was to keep the light levels as low as feasible in an effort to 'keep home owners and local HOA (with roughly 250 families) happy," a city staff report dated Sept. 27 states.

According to an updated staff report released Thursday, the developer is working with Malibu West home owners to address their concerns about the proposed lighting plan, and to give more time for public input on the project.

In an email attached to the report, neighbors have asked that lights at all reserved employee parking spaces be turned off once the businesses are closed and that lighting be reduced at night to the current levels.

A representative for the project wrote in the email that some lights will need to be left on for security purposes, but that the goal is to keep the lighting level low.

At an earlier Planning Commission meeting in October, Hans Laetz of Malibu spoke against the proposed lighting plan.

"It looks like they are trying to keep it very low intensity and very low altitude. I am concerned which the light fixtures they are choosing are not shielded," Laetz said.

He said the developers have also worked to protect the Trancas Lagoon. He said Caltrans has not been satisfied by the amount of space dedicated for a right turn lane.

"They’ve made a real good faith effort in terms of keeping us happy," Laetz said.

Cindy Vandor, a Malibu activist, spoke out against the plans for the shopping center.

"These developers have a lot of work to do to make traffic safer, and you have to make them do it," Vandor said. "Or else someone is going to get killed just trying to get in or out of Malibu West."

She asked commissioners to dedicate an easement for a road for emergency evacuation of Malibu West.

"Lives are at stake but these developers don't care. Scott Rozier and the Dubberts sent lawyers to fight this. They didn't care about the survival of residents, when there are emergencies, they didn't want us to be able to evacuate and get ambulances and fire trucks into Trancas Canyon," Vandor said.

She also requested a safe bus accessible bus stop turn around and waiting area.

In a blog on Malibu Patch, former Public Safety Commissioner Susan Tellem encouraged Malibu residents to oppose the lighting plans.

"We're heading full steam ahead into death by a thousand cuts," Tellem wrote.

V.P.A. October 28, 2012 at 02:09 PM
This is the thin end of the wedge. If this lighting proposal goes ahead even with adjustments, we can eventually expect this system to be in place in every commercial area of Malibu. It sets a precedent. Developers need to be used to safeguard & improve standards for existing residents who bring in their custom; not use the land for their greed, to overcrowd, globalise, urbaniise, bringing all those negative values to a rural community of natural beauty. 42 poles, 12 - 20 ft high lights? What's that all about? Malibu is not a prison camp. what about the wildlife's night time forays? What about the night sky, stars etc? Do you really think the average malibuite wants to sacrifice those things just to wheel their carts to their car & start it up? The dimmer the better. Perhaps in fact to match the dimness of minds that thought this one up in the first place.
V.P.A. October 28, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Oh, AND just from an energy point of view it's a total no no.. Unless their excuse is to put windmills on top to power their electricity! Perhaps they'll plan to entertain us with 42 pole dancers in the evenings & then ribbons on them for Maypoles when that time comes. Even put as many poles as there are States in the Union with Stars for lights on the top. That way the excuse could be patriotism!! Except patriotism is a much about caring for our natural beauty, ocean, flora.fauna, residents.& their families. Must end this rant as the urge to sing "I love you California"! comes to mind. Better they try this number on elsewhere & GENUINELY work with the residents of Malibu. Residents need protecting/shielded from even dim lights.!! Laetz has reason to be concerned. All permits of any kind need to be contingent upon road safety to the highest satisfaction of Caltrans & Residents. The Council needs to establish that as a priority.
Hans Laetz October 28, 2012 at 09:30 PM
We are still waiting to hear if the developer will honor his promise to install a right turn lane on PCH. So far so good. Just like at the high school, the neighbors will be impacted and have a right to ask for maximum protection. The developer has chosen to go with a lot of light poles that are very short and each put out very little light. This will be a very dim parking lot, about two foot-candles average. Unfortunately, he chose a plan with 32 or so light fixtures that will illuminate the off-white exterior. Exterior archtiectural lighting is against the city code.He needs to find a way to shield the lights away from the walls. Also, the city needs to enforce a ban on bright, blinking or otherwise obnoxious interior lighting. And, the city agrees that the Chevron station's lights spill way too much light and need to be shielded, under the existing sign code. All in all, I think the developer heard us and will help us. Now, we need that PCH turn lane built, and the two Malibu West fire lanes built, and the bus turnaround solved, and the west parking lot mess fixed, and the continued progress on turning over th elagoon to the NPS. Other than that, he's good to go.
Jason M October 29, 2012 at 04:29 AM
More lights please! I'm thinking about putting 14 or so around the edge of my property. That way it is all lit up at night! Really? Not.
Terry October 29, 2012 at 05:09 AM
i want to thank u mr lights for your post. it shows your position and that u will monitor a developer to get what you want when it pleases you and where you live and then in other posts u will lash out aginst me and my wife regarding our position on the high school lights. i hope this post puts r differences to rest.
V.P.A. October 29, 2012 at 10:29 AM
You only need to see what the High School lights do to change & disturb the environment, also residents, plus using up valuable energy resources. Now this. debacle a precursor I fear to more. Always thought the High School should do a deal with Pepperdine for night games or practise. Have never figured out what's wrong with restricting use of the Football field to daylight hours!!! Or is this "Politicallly Incorrect? What is incorrect is to disturb people in their own homes in the evening when the activity concerned can be easily arranged during daylight hours. I don't see respect for the residents here. For sure there needs to be a re-think on the High School lights. We all need to be at this meeting, show solidarity & for sure insist on Telem's suggested requirements re Bus Stop etc. Most of all demonstrate the need that the residents come first particularly those in the surrounding area of any "development" or residentially anti-social scheme.
Hans Laetz October 29, 2012 at 02:06 PM
No, Terry, you do not get to distort the record. I have not lashed out at you or your wife. I have gently but firmly pointed out the -- how shall we put it? -- distortions and misstatements that you and Ms. Gwen have spread. Since 2009, I have been publicly telling the SMMUSD that it needs to control existing light pollution at the Cabrillo/MHS campus. I have demanded that the district be a good neighbor, shut off unneeded lights, and adopt dark skies policies to accommodate you and the other immediate neighbors. The Planning Commission adopted almost exactly what I have been arguing for since 2009, not because of me, but because it is logical, fair, legal and the right thing to do. They may not have even read my letter, I dunno. I would much rather that the Trancas Center go poof and disappear, that no expansion be built, that no lights ever be used. Unlike you, I recognize the needs and legal rights of my neighbors, Unlike you, I recognize that a legitimate and beneficial land use next door to my house may infringe on my private little world. There are 200 wooden power poles and several miles of overhead wires in Malibu Park, delivering power and phones and Internet and TV to your house (my neighborhood is underground). No one ever complains about those. Stand in front of your house, and the poles serving your house are in the face of your neighbors' ocean views. Perspective, Terry.
Hans Laetz October 29, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Pepperdine's one soccer/track field is heavily-used at the same times that Malibu kids need a soccer-lacrosse-track field. Pepperdine does not have a football field, or field lighting (I think). It is nine miles from campus, would require a shuttle bus, and has insufficient parking. We looked into that in 2009. It's good that people are striving for out of the box solutions or compromise, but we've been there.
V.P.A. October 29, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Hans, What about a new field in the commerical area of Malibu eventually if the High school insists on night-time activities. Meanwhile what's wrong with playing lacrosse or soccer & running track in daylight hours? Oh, why no Football? A great All American Sport along that of Baseball!! Very odd ! Think one definitely needs to keep nocturnal human activity of the noisy & bright light genre our of residential areas altogether. Re Trancas Market: No increase in lighting or commercialisation!
Hans Laetz October 29, 2012 at 05:25 PM
A full service school does not have its athletic facilities 8 miles away. The disruption to the academic mission would be enormous. Daylight ends at 5 pm in Nov, Jan and Feb. (No games or matches in Dec. because of testing and vacation). School gets out at 3. There are not enough daylight hours in winter. The status quo is that kids get pulled out of class early for long bus trips because home games are impossible. Working parents miss games. Nocturnal human activity is a part of life. Nocturnal in this case means until 7:30 pm., three nights a week, three months a year -- plus the few 10:30 curfew games. Less than 2 percent of the total nighttime hours will be illuminated. Last Friday's game showed that the light spill was INCONSEQUENTIAL except to a few people who seem to be actively seeking to be disturbed. VPA, you ask fair questions. This is, however, well-plowed ground. This has been the subject of neighborhood meetings, scoping sessions, CEQA hearings, city council meetings, school board meetings, site management committee meetings, Coastal Commission hearings, ad nauseum, since 2008. It is my understanding that Juan Cabrillo sailed up the coast in 1542 and the Malibu Township Council paddled out to tell him to put out the torches.
Laura October 29, 2012 at 05:38 PM
It is my understanding that Juan Cabrillo sailed up the coast in 1542 and the Malibu Township Council paddled out to tell him to put out the torches. This made my day! It is so good to get a good laugh!!! THANK YOU FOR THAT!!!
Hans Laetz October 29, 2012 at 05:46 PM
I stole that joke and changed the punch line, truth be told.
Bob Perkins DDS October 30, 2012 at 04:48 AM
"It is my understanding that Juan Cabrillo sailed up the coast in 1542 and the Malibu Township Council paddled out to tell him to put out the torches." Hans...regardless of where you stand on this...one must concede that you were at the full use of your powers for that one!! I must say that talk of Trancas lighting seems hollow in "light" of the Chevron station which is lighted so incredibly that you could do brain surgery on Juan Cabrillo in front of any of the pumps, no additional lighting necessary. Of course, there are safety issues at play when one is driving into an area with gas tanks and pedestrians. I don't know what the safety standards are but there must be some standard.
John Mazza October 30, 2012 at 05:08 AM
The County of Los Angeles sailed up the coast in 1990 and tried to put in a sewer for all of Malibu with a plan for 165,000 people. In 1980 the DWP sailed up the coast and tried to put a nuclear power plant. In 2002 the Malibu City Council and the Bay Company planned 685,000 sq ft of commercial development in Malibu. Since 1974 Dean Issacson has been planning condos for Trancas Field. Guess what ? The Malibu Township Council sailed out and stopped them.
Hans Laetz October 30, 2012 at 06:11 AM
Bully for them. The MTC was one of several quasi-local government organizations along the coast that gavce us a collective voice back when Malibu was unincorporated -- a mere flea in the fur of the massive LA County dog. We incorporated in 1991. We have general elections. We have a city government. The MTC now serves as a platform for dissenters. Bravo. Hard to take them seriously nowadays, when they act against the common decisions made by Malibu through our elected, democratic city council. And when they act against the obvious public good, such as the high school lights and the Trancas Park debacle.
Marianne Riggins October 30, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Every community needs a variety of developement, residential, institutional, commercial, etc. and our city's General Plan set out where these areas will be. In western Malibu these areas have been in use for decades as they currently are now. Trancas was one of the first areas of commercial use in this area clear back to before the 50's. The school site was identified shortly there after, so it should be no surprise that as we have grown as a community those areas would need to expand and provide more services. I agree 100% that the area lighting at both those areas need to be the least objectible, but the fact is both areas do need to have some outdoor night lighting. It is wrong to expect users of both Trancas and the school to try to navigate the area with out some lighting. Let's work together as a community and have a plan that allows users to have some light to use the facilities while having minimum impact on the surrounding neighbors.
Cindy Vandor October 30, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Hans, you're so wrong about MTC. I thank Malibu Township Council for putting public safety first by stopping the city's foolish plans for a badly located park badly designed in a fire-prone box canyon. I thank Malibu Township Council for putting residents' financial futures and the city's own Dark Skies and General Plan first by stopping the school district's foolish plans for football frills, even as budget cuts are hurting academics, and even as the city of Malibu under-handedly changed and then covered up how it changed the rules to allow 70 foot light poles. I thank Malibu Township Council for being the voice of honesty and financial accountability against city councils that have killed Malibu's quality of life so shopping center and condo developers can make a killing. You are not the final arbiter of the public good. Neither is MTC. What is good is to have your voice, MTC's voice, Preserve Malibu's voice, A Safer PCH's voice, and every Malibuite's voice listened to respectfully and with an open mind by each other, by the city, and by the school district. We should talk and listen with each other and not at each other. Please stop being so mean and start appreciating and listening to all the voices in our community. Thank you.
Just Wondering... October 30, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Yes, thank god soccer and baseball were banned at Trancas Park for fire safety reasons. It is well known that soccer balls and baseballs, when struck especially hard, emit a shower of sparks, which can start fires. I did not realize until now that team sports were banned at Trancas Park because they can cause fires. I thought it was just that people that live in the Trancas area didn't want those darned annoying kids who are not from their neighborhood laughing and playing near where they lived. And all along it was merely concern about exploding soccer balls. Honesty is such as wonderful thing.
Hans Laetz October 30, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Cindy, I respect you and your opinions, Usually we agree. But it is not "mean" for to voice dissent, or poke a little fun at a rather pompous target. The MTC once had a key role as a voice for Malibu when we had no other voice. Today, it is a self-selected committee representing a very narrow view of part of Malibu. And that is good too. What is not good is for the MTC to wrap itself in the cloak of representing all of us, like it was two decades ago, as some sort of sanctimonious keeper of the Malibu Way of Life flame. It is fair to disagree on Trancas Park. I think it is the only fireproof spot in all of Trancas Canyon, and I am ashamed that our city council would build three "parks" in 20 years at a cost of about $30 million in public funds and have not one soccer or softball field in any of them. I am not the arbiter of public good. That's the city council's job. They made the decision to clarify the city code, per Sara Wan's request, and specify that schools in Malibu are like schools in the rest of America and can have field lighting for the boys and girls. That was not done in the middle of night, it was a years-long process that was extensively reported on and commented on. Etc., etc, You get the point, and I appreciate yours..
Bob Perkins DDS October 30, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Cindy- Or others I am curious to hear your opinion on this. I don't have any cloaked motive other than to gain clarity. You can speak for yourself or for MTC. What would Malibu look like if it had carried out your vision (retroactively)? It would be helpful, if not interesting, to hear your voice on this. Would we not have a Pt. Dume village? Would we not have any development at Trancas?, Would there be no Malibu Village? What restaurants or public establishments would go and what would stay? Obviously we all wouldn't have our own organic gardens for sustenance nor would we all want to home school our children. I am not trying to be facetious on this. There could well be a significant minority in this town who would lament the automobile and electricity and wish it to be more like a coastal village in Costa Rica or Honduras. Who is to say that those ideals are wrong. I know, though, that the genie isn't going back in that nalgene water bottle. How much development/lights/commerce/soccer/chili cook-offs, etc., is too much, and how much is too little?, and, can we all live under one (night) sky?
Terry October 31, 2012 at 12:25 AM
thank u john. how soon they forget. there could of been a nuclear power plant at deer creek. the the people of malibu would glow in the dark and not need any lights. malibu owes the township counsel,walt keller, john mazza and people like andy lyon a great deal of gratitude. there r to many to name.thank u so much.
Terry October 31, 2012 at 12:32 AM
hotel at malibu canyon, hotel at paridise cove, nuclear power plant at deer creek, causeway through the santa monica mountains, fully built out civic center. need we say more?
Mark Carr November 02, 2012 at 03:50 AM
I was told they doubled the pole request because they were told it would be cut in half. We also learned the style that was selected did not offer a shield which adds more cost per unit. Wake up Malibu West/Hollywoods coming to your corner!
V.P.A. November 02, 2012 at 11:07 AM
Hans. Sarah Wan's request! Malibu is not the rest of The United States of America. It is it's own place, geographically has it's specifics & is on the edge of the Continent. We don't come off an assembly line! MTC have done & do a wonderful job, with, I believe, less hidden agenda of commercialism. Have lived in Malibu since the 40's. It is now overcrowded, excess development of a tract variety; hence some of our geographic & other problems. It may also be one of our strengths in fighting nuclear, hotels, chain stores, etc. There are many here because of the cache of the postcode but who are uncomfortable in a rural area. My suggestion. Keep a beach bolt hole, have a ranch & live in town. There is the best of both worlds! Or, live in Malibu; enjoy & encourage what a lot of the rest of the United States hasn't but would love to; outstanding natural environment - the mountains, ocean, wildlife et al. Cont'd/
V.P.A. November 02, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Bright night lights on poles of unconscionable height belong in urban environments. We can't expect to keep nature's offerings by imposing unessential - harmful to nature of every kind - selfish human indulgences of an urbanite variety, & the folie des grandeurs we have to which the Council has kow-towed (sp?). Let's encourage whatever's left of our farms, vineyards etc. yes, & our equestrian inhabitants. They are being squeezed out when they are the basic fabric of this area. Permit the lights & I can guarantee (almost) that a Domino effect will eventually follow. Look how some of the houses are lit up. It's shocking when Malibu is observed from the sky, or a neighbour has to put up with the effect of someone else's lights. It's painful in a house or restaurant on the beach at night & see how the ocean is search-lighted with no consideration for marine life that suffer dreadfully. Yet it's allowed with impunity! Developers are out for a buck, realtors can't have enough stock!!!! We need a serious reality check without rancour. There must be a limit.
Hans Laetz November 02, 2012 at 04:33 PM
You make so many good points. particularly about the abundance of nouveaux-riche mansions where lights point up in the air, or out to sea. I only wish the vehemence and emotion about the modest and appropriate lights at the school were matched against all the illegal and over-the-top light pollution in Malibu. I would argue that the new lights for the kids, and the proposed lights near my house at Trancas, are a reaction to the excesses that you mention. There are severe restrictions at the school. I looked closely at the lightning plan at Trancas, and I ALMOST agree with what the city says -- it will ALMOST be a very dim, inobstrusive lighting system for the safety of the patrons and employees. I say almost because the lights will be aimed at lighting up the white buildings, and that's a no-no under the city ordinances. Use fixtures that put the light where it is needed, on walkways and the parking lot, and not on the buildings, and that problem is solved. I spent yesterday circling the high school and taking pictures of the poles. It is astounding how small they are in perspective, when compared to the power poles, ugly wires, fences and other visual impediments to seeing the ocean. The huge visual impact of the ugly utility polesand wires that have been there for 60 years is far greater than the neat and trim lights on the campus.

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