Consultant chosen for pier renovation

Long-stalled efforts to rebuild the rotting Malibu Pier may be on track again. A City Council subcommittee recommended last Thursday that the Sacramento firm Williams-Kuebelbeck & Associates, Inc. (W-K) act as consultant for the project.

Plans for the city to take over the pier from the state have undergone four years of revisions that began with former Supervisor Ed Edelman. At one time, the deal hinged on a county demand for $125,000 a year to cover operating expenses at Surfrider Beach.

A tentative agreement between former Mayor Jeff Jennings and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, negotiated last December, would have released $2.9 million in county bond money in exchange for a portion of future pier revenue. However, in what appeared to be a political strategy to defeat Jennings’ bid for re-election, the City Council squashed the deal in March.

According to the presentation by Lawrence E. Williams, W-K specializes in waterfront projects, having worked on the Redondo, Huntington and Ventura piers. Williams pledged to handle 90 percent of the work himself. “He’s the best!” concluded City Manager Harry Peacock. “The real McCoy,” added Mayor Joan House.

W-K’s bid was the lowest, at $30,000 compared to bids of $35,000 and $38,665 submitted by the competition.

Once a contract with the city is finalized, Williams said he expects a business plan to be completed within 14 weeks.

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W-K will evaluate the optimum uses for the pier. According to Williams, “The uses will have to be a blend of what will satisfy the community and what will do the job and with a minimum of financial, liability and operational risk to the city.”

Williams explained that one option to consider is San Francisco’s “Pier 39 model,” in which there is a single master developer lessee that controls the entirety of the pier. “The city does nothing but cut the grass and collect the rent,” he said. On the other hand, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz have maintained more control over their piers. Williams asked, “Should the city be aggressively involved in redevelopment or should the city deal with one or two lessees?”

House said she wanted to make sure that the business plan took into consideration the problem of parking around the pier, which she said is bad enough already.

City Treasurer Peter Lippman said, “We don’t know how big to build in order to make a profit.” He asked that the plan include minimum and optimum square footage for the buildings, which Williams agreed to provide. The existing pier currently supports four buildings, a boat launching ramp and a two-ton jib crane.

Approximately $4.22 million has been allocated for the pier’s reconstruction: $2.9 million from the 1992 Proposition A bond measure, through the Regional Park and Open Space District; $700,000 from the county, through the 1996 Parks and Open Space Bond issue; and $620,000 from the state. The city still must negotiate the conditions for release of the money.

The county is still asking that $125,000 be set aside for patrol and maintenance of Surfrider Beach, Lippman said. The county also asks the city “to put proceeds in a sinking fund, to create a reservoir of money for maintenance and repair of the pier,” said Joel Bellman, Yaroslavsky’s aide.

Lippman added that state money will not be released unless an agreement is reached with the county first. “I’m sure the money will be available but I’m not sure when and under what conditions,” he said.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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