Getting Around Malibu: Ramirez Canyon

Aerial view of the Ramirez Canyon watershed from March 2003 satellite image.  The intersection of Kanan Dume Road with PCH is at the lower left.  The Paradise Cove pier enters the Pacific at the lower rightCopyright
Aerial view of the Ramirez Canyon watershed from March 2003 satellite image. The intersection of Kanan Dume Road with PCH is at the lower left. The Paradise Cove pier enters the Pacific at the lower right.

Ramirez Canyon Neighborhood

Ramirez Canyon is a 2880 acre watershed located between Kanan Dume Road and Escondido Canyon. The topography of the area ranges from the stream bed and flood plain area, to steep mountains. The canyon has a relatively small floor, bounded by steep hills on both the East and West sides. Ramirez Creek is the major drainage course into the Paradise Cove area. With the construction of the "Roosevelt Highway" during the early part of the 20th century, the Ramirez watershed was divided into two almost equal parts, with the mouth of the floodplain located in Paradise Cove.

The Ramirez Canyon Watershed also drains many smaller drainage courses and arroyos. Ramirez Creek is a significant Blue Line Stream with a thriving native riparian habitat lining the creek, and include many native tree species of oak, sycamore. Although development has disturbed native plant communities adjacent to the stream bed, the hillsides still contain coastal sage scrub. The flora of the upper, undeveloped watershed areas consist of abundant native plant communities are thriving, such as chaparral, coastal sage scrub and grassland habitat. These remain relatively undisturbed. The lower portions of the watershed also contain exotic annual grasslands. The abundance of vegetation and natural water course provides an ideal home to a number of species of wildlife, including deer, bobcats, raccoon, badger, gray fox, coyotes and cougar. Additionally, many species of birds in habit the area, including hawks, eagles, owls and road runners, and there are a variety of snakes, lizards and frogs.

Trails in the area include the Lower Ramirez Canyon Lateral Trail, the Ramirez Canyon Connector Trail, as well as many wildlife corridors. Additionally, a trail has been dedicated and is in the process of being completed in the upper east end of the canyon that will connect Ramirez Canyon Road to another trail easement, creating an entrance/exit to the west side of the Canyon, where the trail continues and connects with Zumirez Road. Due to the fragility of this Sensitive Environmental Resource Area, no additional trails are contemplated.

The area's geology is extremely complex and is riddled with both ancient and active slides. There are four mapped slides in the watershed, as well as active debris flow areas located in the upper watershed. Recent grading for development in the upper watershed has exacerbated these problems, and there are now some areas of questionable stability that require further study. In addition, there are four splays of the Malibu Coast Fault traversing the watershed in an easterly/westerly configuration. Due to the canyon's unstable and complex geology, further studies of these problems needs to be done prior to additional development being added to this already overburdened and fragile biological habitat and watershed area.

The floodplain portion of the watershed is a liquefaction zone. Water damage has occurred in the area as a result of runoff from excavated, unstable hillsides. Any debris flow from development can have great impact on both the stream and Ramirez Canyon Road, because the road follows the natural topography, and the dips in the road are part of the bed of the running stream as it traverses the road in five places. Historically, the residents in the flood plain have not suffered any damage from severe winter storms, with the exception of locations where the water has been re-channeled, causing erosion to some stream banks and to the sides of the road, and water from excavated channels to enter some homes.

Ramirez Canyon is an area of archaeological and cultural importance, as it is an extension of the large Chumash village of "Sumo" located in Paradise Cove. There are sites identified as many thousands of years old, and there are ancient burial grounds, as well. It is believed that the canyon was used by the Chumash Indians for at least 9000 years, until the early 19th century.

In the early part of the 20th century, the Rindge family's Adohr Dairy Company ran their cattle in the canyon, until the area was subdivided by the Marblehead Land Company in 1941. This was the first subdivision by the Marblehead Land Company (which has since become the Adamson Company), a Delaware Corporation, and the first tract was sold and deeded in March of 1942 to Hope Ann Goodrich.

There were 38 original parcels in this subdivision which, during the ensuing years, have been subdivided down into 70 to 80 parcels, approximately 3 - 5 acres in size, with some smaller lots of 1- to 2-acres. At the present time, there are approximately 50 - 60 homes in the canyon, ranging in size from 2000 square feet to 8,000 square feet, but include some much smaller residences. The homes vary greatly in style and architecture, including small, original cottages, medium-sized ranch style homes, and large, modern or Mediterranean structures.

Ramirez Canyon Road is a private road that is gated at the Winding Way and Paradise Cove entrances. The Ramirez Canyon community, through the Ramirez Canyon Homeowners Association collects monies and provides the following services: road repair and maintenance, signage, monitoring of speed limits, maintenance of gate phone, speed bumps, and bridges. Road access can only be provided to residents who have recorded deeded easements (the Hope Ann Goodrich easement). Access at the Paradise Cove location is by means of a tunnel beneath Pacific Coast Highway. Historically, all residents have been responsible for their own trash pick-up.

Wastewater in the watershed is disposed of by means of on-site septic tanks and leach fields. Ramirez Creek runoff pass through a small water treatment system at Paradise Cove, operated by the Santa Monica Baykeeper.

Ramirez Canyon is the home of many of the rich and famous and the site of Barbara Streisand's 23 acre, five house Malibu compound at 5750 Ramirez Canyon Road, donated to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy in 1993 and now open to the public for tours. Geraldo Rivera lived in Ramirez Canyon when he was based in LA.

Ramirez Mesa Neighborhood

The Ramirez Mesa neighborhood consists of homes along Ramirez Mesa Drive, off PCH just west of Ramirez Canyon Road. The side street of Rey de Copas Lane is the site of a large development of condominiums, between Rey de Copas Land and PCH. The gated community on Ramirez Mesa Drive is also called Paradise View Estates. Offering magnificent views of the ocean and hillsides, the upscale homes in this community are priced at $3 to $5 million. These properties were developed in the 1990s.

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