A six-lane wide Webb Way, slicing into Legacy Park. Dual left turn lanes on PCH by Ralphs, with lit overhead signs to direct traffic. A widened and relocated Pacific Coast Highway at Cross Creek, slicing 41 feet into the new .
And, a tight little S-curve on PCH at the Malibu Creek bridge, and removal of all the big trees on the south side of PCH at Cross Creek, where people park to walk to Surfrider Beach. All that parking? Gone.
That is no idle threat or bad dream. That’s the traffic mitigation plan for commercial development at downtown Malibu that our City Council approved in 2008. That’s the plan adopted for the La Paz luxury retail and office complex, which will be built east of the library, and west of the proposed Whole Foods Supermarket, in downtown Malibu (no point in calling it Civic Center, it will forever be downtown Malibu).
The La Paz traffic mitigation plan is the blueprint for all the development along Civic Center Way, including the college campus, all the vacant land near City Hall, and the supermarket shopping center. The supermarket guy, Steve Soboroff, tells me he doesn’t have to draw up his own traffic mitigation plan. He can piggyback onto the already-approved La Paz traffic plan, and simply pay his share of impact money to widen PCH and pave Webb into an Olympic Boulevard.
So, let’s take a close look at the La Paz plan. It has one key element, without which the whole thing falls apart: the corner of Cross Creek Road at PCH. La Paz requires a right turn lane to be installed from westbound PCH to northbound Cross Creek.
The Shell station is in the way, and the owner won’t sell. La Paz has two solutions, the first of which is to squeeze in the turn lane next to , resulting in substandard lane widths for all six PCH lanes at the signal. Under Caltrans policies, in order to squeeze in a turn lane on westbound PCH, the entire Cross Creek intersection will have to be rebuilt.
So La Paz Plan B is to widen PCH south, and move the center median south. Problem solved!
That’s how the La Paz project and the City of Malibu look at it. The approved EIR, posted on the city’s web site, relies on a traffic study that simply shifts PCH into Malibu Lagoon State Park. But the city failed to even analyze, much less mitigate, the horrible negative impact on the park, lagoon or PCH. Under CEQA, that’s illegal.
Two lanes each way, one right turn lane, the center turn lane, bike lanes, a small median stripe and one sidewalk equal 98 feet under Caltrans design standards. The current roadway is 57 feet curb to curb. That’s a new 41-foot slice of Malibu State Park that would get sacrificed for a supermarket access!
All of a sudden, we see why it’s called “Whole Foods In The (State) Park.”
The EIR itself acknowledges that the trees and parking spaces on the south side of PCH, from the Malibu Road merge to the signal and on to the creek, would get torn out. So would all the wild plants, including that tremendous twisted sycamore tree and protected mulefat bushes that shield the park from PCH.
The City of Malibu, under state law, was supposed to inform State Parks, the Resource Conservation District and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission that a major state highway was to be relocated onto a state park, an ESHA, and a wetland. Those agencies did not get notified.
The people of California, the state Coastal Commission and Caltrans were supposed to be notified that the EIR called for widening PCH at Cross Creek’s signal. That would mean widening the road about 41 feet south into the park. The people did not get notified.
City Council members should have been told that the La Paz project relied, as its key traffic mitigation, on widening PCH 41 feet into the State Park. Staff did not put two and two together. The EIR did not mention it would require a new PCH retaining wall up to the bridge. and possibly a widening of the bridge itself to bring the new alignment back to the existing stripes without a sharp S-turn.
You should have seen the look on Suzanne Goode’s face last week when I told her the City has approved a traffic plan to move the PCH sidewalk 41 feet into the park, to make room for a shopping center access lane.
The Whole Foods guy says they can eliminate the bike lane and narrow the lanes to squeeze into existing Caltrans right of way. That would still require the removal of the trees and parking, and result in another gap in the California Coastal Bike Trail – still against state law, still contrary to the Malibu LCP.
How this monstrosity got approved by City Staff is beyond me. I don’t think staff knew what hit them. They certainly did not alert the public, the affected agencies, or the City Council.
But it gets worse. City Staff has again failed to discover that this inaccurate CEQA analysis from 2008 has just been used as a baseline model for the hotel and supermarket Notices of Preparation.
The City Council needs to take three steps, now:
- Direct staff to withdraw the hotel and supermarket NOPs, and conduct proper Initial Studies so that affected agencies and the public can participate in the scoping sessions, as required by the California Codes of Regulations.
- Direct staff to examine the 2008 CEQA report on the La Paz plan, and consult with State Parks and other agencies as they are required by law.
- Direct the city attorney to examine the errors in the 2008 city traffic mitigation plan, and come back with steps to undo the damage.
Bad city CEQA work happened at Trancas. And now, we see it happened at Cross Creek. The question is, how will the city council fix this horrible error?