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Latigo Canyon Stand Misreported

August 06, 1993

* A July 19 article on the Latigo Canyon Ranch described me as being uncomfortable with voting for the project and implied that I thought the project itself was bad. The direct quotes are somewhat out of context of a long interview on the project.

Elsewhere, the article implied that the developers had wrongfully manipulated the local and Coastal Commission permit process and stated that the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy reversed its position on the project. None of these implications are true.

I never thought the project was bad. I thought the concept was consistent with the uses specified for the property in the Malibu Local Coastal Plan. I was, however, concerned with the lack of public participation and analysis of the impacts of the project in the permit review process. These deficiencies are the result of the way the county and the commission interpreted their responsibilities, not the result of exceptions made at the behest of the developer.

After the public hearing on this project at the Coastal Commission, I felt that opponents had raised some points as to the intensity and impacts of the project. I made a motion for a continuance to investigate their concerns. The commission did not support this. Afterward, other commissioners and I made motions to amend the project, including doubling the stream setback to 100 feet, removing parking lots from the bottom of the canyon, limiting occupancy to the capacity of the septic systems and requiring re-vegetation of currently eroded slopes. The developer accepted these changes.

When the revocation hearing request was filed before the commission, all allegations were investigated by the commission staff. Steve Best (a Latigo Canyon resident opposed to the project) provided no evidence that the applicants had misled the commission. The commission staff's investigation of his allegations found no inconsistencies in the information provided by the developers. Without evidence of that, it would have been improper to revoke the permit.

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy has not, to my knowledge, reversed its conceptual support for this project. Although a detailed plan was submitted to the conservancy about two years ago, the conservancy did not analyze the specific site plan, and chose to endorse the concept of a tent resort with an environmental education component. The conservancy expected to comment on the details during the county review, but since no public county review occurred, they did not do so.

After county approval, the conservancy staff did render an opinion that the county should have required a conditional use permit, and the conservancy board again discussed the project. But neither staff nor board took any action to reverse the original conceptual endorsement.

Government could have allowed more public participation in the decisions about this project, but that does not mean the project itself is bad. The developers appear to have followed all the rules and designed an unusual and creative project to provide public access to the Santa Monica Mountains.

MADELYN GLICKFELD

Malibu

Glickfeld is a member of the California Coastal Commission and is also the commission's representative on the board of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

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