Broad Beach Sand Project Springs A Leak: City Wants A New Vote, As Opponents Point Out It Lacks Required CEQA Studies Or City Permit

Written by on June 27, 2023

Editor’s note: KBUU Radio has a major conflict of interest covering this story, which we acknowledge in advance.    See below.

Malibu’s City Council last night said they want the Broad Beach sand replenishment project to go up for another vote … by the landowners in the Broad Beach Geological Hazard Abatement District.

And major legal problems were uncovered by Trancas area residents … deficiencies that could derail the 12 year effort.

Opponents … like the Malibu West Homeowners Association … say 23 million tax dollars have already been collected … but not one grain of sand moved … over 12 years. 

Other residents oppose the Broad Beach sand district’s plans to bring in 22,000 truckloads of sand to be unloaded near the homes, at Trancas Beach, and then loaded onto giant mining trucks to be hauled up to Broad Beach.

Malibu West owes the Broad Beach district 300 thousand dollars, and residents of the Broad Beach Homeowners Association want the sand district dissolved.  But HOA president Tim Bigelow says the money is not the major issue.

Last night, Bigelow displayed photos taken that morning … showing the Broad Beach is wider now than it when the sand district shame was hatched was 12 years ago.


“As you can see here – this was taken today – the sand is back and mother nature can take it and bring it back on its own.

“No matter what we do … it is going to do its own thing.”

Broad beach attorney Ken Ehrlich says that the beach may be wider … but it’s the wrong type of sand.  


“The native sand grain size between .15 and .18 on median … and we are allowed to go up to .60. So what happens when you get these light sand grains, they are more fleeting … they come and they go at will. 

“During a big storm, you can lose 2 to 3 to 4 feet of sand overnight. With a heavier grade sand, the intent is to stay on the beach longer. 

“So it is a true statement … that the beach is – in parts –  less eroded today than it was in 2010 or 2012.”

It was 12 years ago that the city council approved the Broad Beach sand replenishment plans …. and handed control over it to the Coastal Commission … 

But that was before Broad Beach came up with plans to bring 22 thousand truckloads of sand into Trancas using trucks.  The city decision from 2012 says Broad Beach had permission to bring in sand hydraulically, from the ocean.

The state said no dredging after the city approved offshore sand delivery, so Broad Beach decided to buy sand from Ventura County and truck it in, 22,000 loads of it the first year, with as many as 85,000 truckloads total over 10 years.

But they never went back to Malibu for permission to bring the parade of trucks in on pubic streets, or to build a giant temporary sand unloading, storage and loading yard within 50 feet of homes on Surfside Way.

People on Surfside Way, and nearby, are up in arms. 

City council member Steve Uhring asked the district’s lawyer … Ken Ehrlich about the 22 thousand trucks .. a figure that may swell to as many as 85 thousand trucks over 10 years …


UHRING:  “Do you need a permit from the city to start trucking all this stuff in?

ERLICH: “No.  The short answer is no.”

Ehrlich’s short answer appears to be wrong, according to City Manager Steve McClary.


“In speaking with our Public Works Director, it is our understanding that a city permit would be required if there is going to be any use of city streets for the project.”

And such a city permit would require CEQA evaluation – a public study of alternatives.  That would include studying bringing in the Ventura County sand by loading it onto barges up the coast, to avoid truck disruptions at Zuma – the method proposed by California State Parks to bring sand in from Rindge Dam at the Malibu Pier.

Surfside Way neighbors also pointed tout that the Broad Beach Coastal Commission permit specifically requires Broad beach to pull local permits for the work.

While the city council gave up its responsibility for the sand project a dozen years ago, that was for a project contained west of the Zujmas Beach parking lot, not in it.  Plus, the scope of work was to be below the high tide line only.

The city retains jurisdiction for the land next to the beach … where Ehlich wants to bring in 22 thousand trucks the first year.  Plus, the city still controls the massive sand unloading and transfer depot that Broad Beach wants to station at Zuma Beach … at Guernsey Avenue.  Or so contends the opponents of the trucks.

And they contend that the city permit means that the city has an opportunity to reopen the whole issue … at least as far as the 22 thousand trucks are concerned.

Ehrlich notes that the Broad Beach sand district is exempt from California’s Environmental Quality Act … CEQA … because it’s a special assessment district.  And while that may be true … opponents say … the California State Lands Commission has ruled that the Broad Beach project must be treated as if CEQA applies.

And … the city must follow CEQA when it examines the proposed use of the parking lot for the sand transfer station … and the use of city streets for 22 thousand trucks the first year.

That means studying alternatives … including a “no build” option.

That is what Malibu West resident Pam Eilerson is hoping for..


“I read the staff report and I want to make I’ve got it straight:

“The City Council in 2011 create it, a special assessment district… the GHAD… that has an unlimited ability to tax its members … an ever-changing array of entirely infeasible plans to accomplish its stated mission… And no oversight whatsoever. 

“And the city can’t do anything to rectify this million dollar boondoggle? Even as the GHAD board comes up with all these outlandish schemes too bring it sand… you know … truck it in … thousands of loads from distant quarries … the sand is back.”

Bottom line: the city council wants Broad Beach to conduct another vote … open to Broad Beach property owners only … on the san project.

Malibu Mayor Bruce Silverstein.


“I understand that we don’t have the legal authority to compel you to have that vote, and I understand why you would not want to have that vote if you are not required to.

“But I think it would be great site of good faith, and it would put a lot of the public objections that we hear repeatedly to rest, if you put it out like a referendum. Right?”

Add opponents to the sand replenishment plan, and the opponents of the 22,000 truckloads of sand destined to arrive in Malibu next year… say the city has gigantic legal opening.

They say the Broad Beach sand district does not have permits from the city to bring in the trucks… it does not have authority from the state to bring in the tracks… and Broad Beach has not done the required environmental studies for the massive sand dome and truck depot it plans for the parking lot at Trancas Beach.

Editor’s note: The reporter who wrote this news story is an advocate on one side of the issue.  He and his wife reside on Surfside Way and have raised objection to the noise and pollution that the trucks will impose on their home and the KBUU Radio studios.  KBUU acknowledges this conflict and the attendant obligation to be extra careful … to be fair … reporting on this issue.

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