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Supervisors OK Encinal Project : Malibu: A plan for 69 luxury homes at the foot of the canyon is approved after the developer drops the golf course.


The county Board of Supervisors has approved a controversial proposal to build 69 luxury homes near the foot of rugged Encinal Canyon in western Malibu after the developer dropped plans for an 18-hole golf course.

The supervisors voted 3 to 1 Thursday to permit construction of the gated community, tentatively called Rancho Malibu Estates, 3 1/2 miles east of the Ventura County line.

A county commission last year approved a request by the developer--VMS Realty Partners of Chicago and its subsidiary, the Anden Group--to exclude the 270-acre tract from the proposed city of Malibu.

Malibu voters this month approved cityhood and elected a council that is expected to restrict new construction.

Only Supervisor Ed Edelman voted against the housing tract. Supervisor Deane Dana, whose district includes the development site, was joined by colleagues Pete Schabarum and Mike Antonovich in voting for the plan. Supervisor Kenneth Hahn was absent.

Neighboring homeowners protested that the luxury homes will be out of place on the sagebrush-covered hills just north of Pacific Coast Highway.

The homeowners promised to carry their fight to reduce the size of the project to the California Coastal Commission, which will be the final agency to study the proposal. If approved, construction can begin.

The developer had proposed last year to build a golf course and 62 homes. But homeowners complained that the movement of 4 million cubic yards of dirt required by that plan would be an environmental disaster. The Regional Planning Commission rejected that proposal in May, 1989.

Sandy Russell, a member of the La Chusa Highlands Property Owners Assn., told the supervisors Thursday that the new plan is still too large. She said the developer should build fewer homes on smaller lots, to match the density of the rest of the region.

"Something that would be built in Orange County or Pacific Palisades should not be built on a pristine bluff top," Russell said.

She said the new homeowners could be put in danger, in country frequently scorched by brush fires, because only one access road is proposed to the development.

Another homeowner complained that his house would be just 240 feet from the new tract's sewage treatment plant.

"I can't allow this health hazard next to my home," said Don Raby. "With a stiff wind, the effluent will blow right into my home."

A group of 12 Malibu architects submitted a letter to the board, saying the Anden Group could build a more aesthetically pleasing project, and still make money, with half the number of homes.

But Michael B. Rosenfeld, representing the Anden Group, said that in giving up the golf course, the developer has already gone to great lengths to appease homeowners.

The new plan also reduces grading by 58%, cuts water consumption by 70% and increases open space by 28%, Rosenfeld said.

Worries about fire danger and sewage fumes are unwarranted, the developers said, because the county Fire Department and Department of Public Works have scrutinized and approved the plans.

"This project was very carefully and sensitively planned," Rosenfeld said.

The three supervisors supporting the tract said the developers had substantially mitigated complaints by neighbors and that further alterations were unnecessary.

In opposing the project, Edelman said he thinks that it is too dense and does not provide enough open space.

Several homeowners said they hope that the Coastal Commission will be more receptive to their complaints.

"We are very happy that the golf course was deleted," said Russell. "We would still like to see a good reduction, and we hope the Coastal Commission will support us."

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