The design of Malibu’s temporary skate park, which the planning commission approved on Feb. 3, was changed again during the city council’s Feb. 24 meeting at the request of developers Scott Gillen and Robert Gold. The park is still slated to open in May 2020.
Malibu Community Services Director Jesse Bobbett said the developers have met with city staff multiple times to discuss their requests.
“They have been willing to sit down and discuss with us. We’re in agreeance on a lot of things that are not detrimental to the temporary skate park,” Bobbett said during the staff report. “There’s a couple items that we just simply don’t agree, and I think we wanted to bring that to the council just for issues of transparency.”
Gillen is the owner of the 24-acre Crummer Property, also known as the Case Project, a luxury residential development, which is located adjacent to the skate park. As part of the Case Project, Gillen donated a 1.74-acre parcel of land to the City of Malibu as well as $1 million to develop the land—the skate park is located on this donated parcel.
The developers asked the city to move or eliminate a number of features in the approved temporary skate park design. The developers’ requests would have reduced the size of the temporary park from 12,320 square feet to 10,820 square feet.
The council voted, 5-0, to approve some of the developers’ modifications and added some of their own. The new design will adjust the size of the park, and rearrange skate park features. Temporary hedges, requested by the developers, will be installed along the border between the park and the development.
After modifications, Bobbett said the skate park would still be skateable, but “it would not be quite as good.”
“I think there’s lots of concerns on their end,” Bobbett said of the developers. “Security, wanting to make sure that people can’t access their wall. Our concerns were: We think we can do that with a more limited space, with either hedges or a fence, not both right along that wall.”
Malibu resident Hamish Patterson—who has been advocating for a permanent skate park in the city since former park Papa Jack’s closed in 2011—defended the developers, despite describing himself as “an anti-development guy, a slow growther.”
“They could’ve easily not shown up,” Patterson said of the developers. “They could’ve easily objected to what we’ve done, launched an appeal, which would have derailed our whole process. Where we would not be looking at an opening date here at the end of May.”
Planning Commissioner John Mazza said the commission considered Gillen’s requests, but did not pass them for various reasons.
“I think it’s very very important that we don’t take 12-13 percent away from this project for a hedge,” Mazza said. “It’s the kids who want the skate park. They want that thing in the middle [the funbox], whatever it’s called.”
Developers Gillen and Gold also spoke during public comment.
“We didn’t ask for big changes. I asked for simple changes,” Gillen said. “Just some privacy concerns and noise concerns and hedges.”
Gillen, a Malibu resident, described the events as unfair.
“These people don’t know that I gave you that property,” Gillen said. “They don’t know that I gave you a million dollars to put it. They don’t know that I was well aware that the park was coming. I bought this property knowing the park was studied and approved. And they’re also unaware that what you’re putting in and calling temporary is not what was studied, is not what was approved, and I still did not oppose it and/or appeal it. I think I’ve been fair. I’m asking for some fairness in return.”
“Obviously, you could hear the frustration in Scott’s voice,” Gold said.
Skater Finn Murphy said some of the developers’ requests were “not very good” for local skaters. Murphy described the removal of one feature, the “funbox,” as a “safety hazard” that would disrupt the park’s “flow” and “skateability.”
“Some skaters will see this as an area to practice ‘flat ground,’ and they will only be looking down at their board, and not for other skaters trying to use the park,” Murphy said. “I’ve seen this so many times, where skaters will be in the middle of the park and getting run into or getting hurt or blocking everyone else.”
Skater Layla Polito described losing the funbox as “a serious bummer.”
Polito said Gillen got a good deal on the Crummer Property and, after doing some math, suggested he donate $72,000 to the city to make up for the lost square footage of the temporary skate park.
“The city is short $200,000 on the permanent park. Maybe you could donate that $72,000 towards the gap, and we call it a day,” Polito said.
“OK,” Gillen could be heard saying from the crowd.
Council Member Rick Mullen complimented Polito’s idea during his comments, and called her “a future entrepreneur.”
Mayor Pro Tem Mikke Pierson said that, although he was disappointed to see the design change, he agreed with the statements of Mullen and Wagner, who spoke before him, that delays should be avoided.
“I think the pain of that, for me to say that, is somewhat tampered by Scott’s generous $72,000 donation that he made tonight,” Pierson said.
City Attorney Christi Hogin clarified that the donation could not be required as part of the new conceptual design. It would have to be dealt with separately, Hogin said. By the time The Malibu Times went to print, it was not clear whether or not Gillen had actually donated the said amount.
The council’s approved conceptual design will be bid out for a final draft, according to Hogin. After a final design is received, the city will decide whether a new permit needs to be issued for the project.