Getting Around Malibu: Sycamore Park

Sycamore Park Tennis Club borders PCHCopyright
Sycamore Park Tennis Club borders PCH.

Sycamore Park Neighborhood

March 2003 satellite image of Sycamore Park Neighborhood.
March 2003 satellite image of Sycamore Park neighborhood.

Sycamore Park is an overwhelmingly single-family residential hill and canyon area of about 60 parcels reaching from PCH to Winding Way at Escondido Creek. It lies across Pacific Coast Highway from Escondido Beach and Malibu Cove Colony. It consists of three streets which fan out from a central, PCH entrance, at Via Escondido, which begins in a roughly north-south direction, and curves to become an east-west street at the end, Sea Vista to the east, running east-west; and Sycamore Meadows, to the West, also running east-west. The Sycamore Park boundary cuts through the Sea Vista neighborhood midway, dividing it into, for these purposes, Sea Vista "east" and Sea Vista "west," sometimes considered part of Sycamore Park since Sea Vista Drive is not continuous.

The area is characterized by relatively dense development, consisting of about one single family home to one half acre, to one home to a maximum of about six acres. Homes in the area are generally from 2000 to 8000 square feet, and are from one to three stories in height.

The Sycamore Park development originally dates back to a style of architecture that reflects the fifties genre. Most of these older homes have been upgraded through additions and remodeling in recent years and many newer homes, have been built. Some older homes still exist as they were built.

Most of the homes in the area are two story structures, some are single story, and some are three stories in height. Most of the lots are on hilly terrain, that afford sweeping views of the ocean orland the surrounding hillsides. All the roads are privately maintained by homeowners. Sea Vista east has many new homes that are frequently substantially larger than current standards allow. Most of the homes feature large backyards. There are several homes which have pools, a few with tennis courts, and some with corrals and/or stables.

Via Escondido follows the path of Escondido creek. A bridge over the creek affords residents access to the beach, bypassing the highway. On the farthest end from the Pacific Coast Highway, Via Escondido opens into the area known as Escondido Canyon. The canyon is shared with the residents of Winding Way.

Discreetly located on Sycamore Meadows is a small apartment complex, buried in the vegetation. It is not visible from the street. Along PCH, at Via Escondido and Sea Vista, there is a private tennis club, with three tennis courts and a landscaped common area.

The most defining features of this neighborhood are the rolling hills and the canyon, formed by Escondido Creek. The issue of public access across private property is of major concern to residents here.

There is the ocean on one side of Sycamore Park and Escondido Canyon on the other. Residents often find the entrance being used as a parking lot for the general public. People use the private roads and private access to the beach. The privately deeded beach has an easement for the public to the mean high tide line. Others use the private roads to park and access Escondido Canyon.

In addition, those wishing to play tennis often find the parking is taken by public beach goers. Mobile homes, RVs, campers, and horse trailers are sometimes parked there, seriously compromising security in the area. There have been complaints that transients, sleeping under the bridge on Via Escondido or at Latigo Canyon, next to Sea Vista east, have frightened residents and small children.

As for the canyon, residents have been bothered by off-road vehicles, mountain bike clubs, horse trailers, and hikers who generally show a disdain for the residents and their rights to private property. More seriously, Escondido Canyon,-which is not patrolled or secured, has been the sight of overnight camping, including open campfires. At the Via Escondido entrance to the canyon, there have been repeated episodes of illegal dumping of trash. At one time, campers were found in the canyon with an open campfire left smoldering next to a dumped gasoline container.

This is not a gated community, and law enforcement is not quick to respond to complaints. No adequate enforcement procedures are currently in place. In recent years, the problems associated with liability have surfaced here in relation to the equestrian traffic across private property, pedestrian traffic, bicycle traffic, and beach goers who are on private property. Because of the resources here, public access and liability are a problem.

Origin of the Sycamore Park Beach and Tennis Club

In 1972 Sycamore Park residents became aware of plans to build a high-density, two-story, 27 unit apartment house on the only apartment-zoned lot in the subdivision. Twenty five residents and landowners pooled more than enough money for a down payment on the property to create a community play area instead. Their offer was accepted, and plans for the Sycamore Park Beach and Tennis Club began. The Regional Planning Commission was happy to approve the project, but the Coastal Commission had problems. The property was already targeted for future acquisition by the State for use as a public beach parking lot for 100 cars. It took 18 months of concerted community action to stop the parking lot and obtain the necessary permits, but finally the three lighted courts and landscaped private community park came to be.

Sources: Information on this page was adapted from the City of Malibu, General Plan, November 1995 and the Malibu Times archives.

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