A clarion call was sounded for Trancas Field at a meeting this week at City Hall that attracted some 80 residents, as I comment on public radio 97.5 KBU.

Topographically, the Field northeast of Trancas Canyon Road and the PCH is an open 35-acre sloping site of mostly scrub brush, offering striking views of Zuma beach and the ocean.

Politically, the field for most nearby West Malibu residents has been a planning and development battleground. For a succession of developers, it has been a swamp.

Whatever plans were put forward over the years for whatever density and design, they were vociferously opposed by residents and dutifully opposed by a parade of Malibu city councils and their legal counsels.

Let them fiddle with the commercial development of the much more valuable Civic Center. But Trancas Field was sacrosanct, and the feeling at the meeting this week was that it still most definitely is.

The buzz there was quite audible, fed by the fact that the City announced that earlier in the day it had completed the purchase of the site for $11 million plus dollars, after decades of legal wrangling,


The meeting was supposed to be a workshop reviewing a host of alternatives. These included keeping the field open and undeveloped, to erecting a host of facilities.


Proposed for consideration were the construction of centers for seniors, cultural and nature venues, various playing fields, from football to baseball, and a ubiquitous skate board park.


There was no workshop, other than asking the unvetted participants to pin a green dot for a yes, or a red dot for a no, on a series of proposed uses pictured on display boards. Confusion ensued.


It seems the distribution of dots was not monitored particularly well, and the voting could not be accurately tallied. The boards ended up looking very much like a kindergarten project.


In particular, when the picture of a skate board park at first had attracted a flood of red no dots, several youngsters reacted somehow getting sheaths of green dots, and bullet posting them in equal numbers


An informal count of the dots tallied over 100, 20 or so more than those in attendance. So much for the workshop.


Instead, a skittish Reva Feldman, the city manager, moved on to soliciting comments from the milling crowd. Most were passionate pleas to keep the field open and undeveloped, nothing that would compromise the natural setting and attract unwanted visitors, noise, and crime.

One brave soul suggested housing. And a few added to me that it should be for local seniors like themselves, who want to sell their homes, indeed need to sell their homes, but want to stay in Malibu.

Feldman said the comments and questions would be taken under advisement, and would await the fate of the proposal for Bluffs Park. She added the Coastal Commission was now reviewing with the city alternative plans that included a wish list of facilities, including a skateboard park.

As for the question, what will happen to Trancas Field, stay tuned. The controversy is just warming up.



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Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.