From the Publisher / Arnold G. York


Who’s against a Malibu central park?

Who could be against a 20-acre central park right in the middle of Malibu? A soul-refreshing island of greenery instead of another shopping center filled with upscale T-shirt shops, and another Starbucks.

Who would be against it, especially since we were not only going to end up with a central park but in the process we could end up with a small treatment plant that would clean up the creek, the lagoon and the surf zone in front of our Civic Center?

Well, I regret to say a great many people, or at least just about everybody who wants to be on the City Council and isn’t because they know that anything this council does is bad, bad, bad. On the other hand, if they (the council wannabes) did the same, it would be good, good, good.

Then there’s another bunch of state agencies, all heavy duty environmental types-like the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Trust and the California Coastal Conservancy-that were all ready to kick in big bucks, $6 million to $8 million, to help make this all happen.

And suddenly, as we get to the close of the escrow, all the grants start falling apart. They’d love to help but they have problems. Maybe we used the wrong application form, or the wrong color ink, or we forgot to indent each paragraph.

And then there is absolutely, best of all, the very special Catch 22. The catch is the Chili Cook-Off land could only be appraised as undevelopable parkland because Perenchio insisted on that as a condition of the deal, which, of course, makes it worth less than if it was designated as commercial land. To put it another way, if a greedy developer insists on selling a $35 million piece of land to the city for $25 million, but only if it remains parkland, then none of the environmental groups can fund it. On the other hand, if the greedy developer insists on selling it to the city for a large commercial development, then all the environmental groups can rush in with money grants to make sure that it doesn’t happen. Perhaps one of you readers can call and explain this to me.

Then, of course, there is the voice of Malibu’s not-so-loyal opposition. The Ozzie Silnas, Steve Uhrings and John Mazzas and the Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy, who have been ranting for years about potential overdevelopment in the Civic Center. An article of their faith was that the Civic Center shouldn’t be turned into a Century City. Now suddenly we’ve got an opportunity to take the most primo piece of real estate in the Civic Center, the 20 acres of what’s called the Chili Cook-off site, off the market and turn it into a park. You would think they’d be overjoyed. You might think but you’d be wrong, very wrong. The reason you’d be wrong is because they’re really not interested in keeping Malibu green. What they’re interested in is obtaining political power, putting their people on City Council and running the game. Therefore, anything this council does is automatically wrong.

Then there are the suckers who gave dollars and pledged even bigger dollars to the Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy in the mistaken belief that they were going to keep Malibu undeveloped. To date, the amount of money that the Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy has contributed to the Malibu Legacy Park Fund to purchase the Chili Cook-Off site is zero, nada, nothing, gornisht. In all fairness, they have pledged they would match any contribution made between Nov. 15 and Nov. 30, dollar for dollar. The Malibu Chamber of Commerce got together and raised $15,000 toward purchase of the park. I’m hopeful that Ozzie and Company will match it. Considering some of their past history on honoring pledges, I’m not holding my breath.

The good news is this deal is going to happen. We’re going to buy the 20-acre Chili Cook-Off site with or without the illusory dollars of the Ozzie Silnas and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancies because there are some very courageous people on the council who are willing to take a lot of flack to make it happen and are willing to go way out on a limb to see it happen.

That’s not to say that the City Council is without fault. They have been guilty of terminal naiveté in dealing with some of the state agencies. Still, their hearts are in the right place and they want to make this happen. (And what about some of the Malibu heavy-hitters and show business luminaries, who don’t mind spending $25 million for a house they use six weekends a year but won’t write a check for a public park?)

There is still time for some of you to participate and I have a couple of suggestions. Those of you who haven’t given yet, send your check to the City of Malibu/ Malibu Legacy Park Project, 23815 Stuart Ranch Rd., Malibu, Ca. 90265-4861, Attention: Administrative Services Department.

For those of you who have given or pledged money to the Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy, get on the phone and call them and find out why they haven’t given anything. If the explanation doesn’t make sense, then get your money back and give it directly to the Malibu Legacy Park Project so you know that it’s going to be used the way you intended.