Crummer property could go to private hands

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Funds from a private investor are in escrow for purchase of the Crummer property, next to Bluffs Park where ball fields were envisioned.

By Jonathan Friedman/ Assistant Editor

City officials confirmed a rumor this week that money to buy a property eyed by Malibu activists and officials for acquisition so that ball fields could be built there is in escrow from a private investor.

A rumor had been circulating throughout the city for several months that a person had money in escrow to buy the 24-acre vacant property located along Pacific Coast Highway next to Malibu Bluffs Park. This week, City Manager Katie Lichtig confirmed the rumor as true when she said in an interview that a group representing the private investor met with her recently to discuss zoning issues regarding the property.

The Crummer property has been on the market since last summer and is selling for $26 million. It is zoned for one home per two acres. Paul Grisanti, the Realtor selling the home, told The Malibu Times last year that he believes the property could be divided into about eight or nine residential lots. Grisanti declined to comment when asked this week about the property being in escrow.

The Crummer property had originally been a focus by city officials and activists as the eventual destination for ball fields when it was believed the California Department of Parks and Recreation was going to kick Malibu Little League and AYSO off Bluffs Park. But earlier this year, a deal was reached among Malibu, State Parks and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy that will allow the city to purchase the portion of Bluffs Park containing the ball fields. Lichtig said that agreement should be finalized by October. But the Crummer Property still remains a desire for municipal acquisition because many people say the city needs to build more ball fields.

“I’ve always thought Crummer would be a spectacular addition to Bluffs Park and I would hate to see it lost,” Councilmember Sharon Barovsky said. “Unfortunately, the city just doesn’t have $26 million. However, there’s always a chance that the new owners might be willing to give us an opportunity for some playing fields.”

Laura Rosenthal, who sits on the Little League Board of Directors, said it would be devastating if the Crummer property was purchased and there were no opportunity to build ball fields there. She said it was possible to construct fields on one of the properties in the Civic Center area, but added the Crummer site would be the best property for them because it is adjacent to Bluffs Park.

A meeting took place in April for those hoping the city could buy private land for ball fields and a dog park. The meeting was hosted by Barovsky and Mayor Andy Stern, and it was determined that the Crummer property would be the best location. The people involved in the meeting said they would like to help raise money for such an acquisition. But the group has not met again.

Mona Loo, an advocate for the city buying land to build a dog park, said this week that even if the Crummer property was privately purchased, it did not rule out the possibility of a dog park being built there. She said the new owner could donate some of the land to the city for a dog park. Loo said there are also other areas in Malibu where a dog park could be built, including a piece of land in Trancas that the city recently obtained. That property is eventually going to be turned into a park, but an environmental impact report must first be done.