Parks commission to dispute Hayden over Bluffs Park

Bluffs Park became the flashpoint of controversy at last week’s city Parks & Recreation Commission, as commissioners decided to respond to a letter by state Sen. Tom Hayden that lambasted the city for not choosing an alternative site for its ballfields.

Commissioners also voted to ask the City Council for a waiver for local 12-step programs on a recent facility use-fee increase at the park’s Michael Landon Center, apparently overriding the department’s need to generate revenue to pay 50 percent of its operating costs.

In other action, the commission decided to go through with a public hearing on the Parks Master Plan Public Workshop set for Aug. 5 [see below] even though many people would be on vacation.

Hayden’s letter to Gov. Gray Davis, which was published in The Malibu Times, said that for nearly two years, he had been trying to spur the city to choose alternative sites for baseball fields before the state reclaims Bluffs Park in 2002.

State park officials recently toured the city and “pointed out a dozen locations where a single or multiple ball fields might be located,” Hayden wrote two weeks ago. “The city ostensibly has made no such search.

“It is time for Malibu to take the initiative and select new sites for their recreation programs. … Bluffs Park must remain in the hands of State Parks and returned to a more natural state for the use of all Californians and our national and international visitors…,” Hayden concluded.

While commissioners regarded Hayden’s letter as a declaration of war, local activists in the audience urged a more conciliatory approach.

The state should be made aware that the city pays for law enforcement on roads and beaches it does not own and for which it does not get any parking revenue, said commission Chair Patricia Greenwood. At the same time, the city has spent about $500,000 in public and private funds to improve the park for regional use.

“These are public services at the expense of our dire recreational needs,” said Commissioner Sam Hall Kaplan.

Noting the number of people using Bluffs Park for whale watching and exercise, commissioner Ted Vaill said, “We have not kept anyone out.”

Former planning commissioner Barbara Cameron said access to the potential ballfield sites near Malibu High School and Trancas Town is limited and would get worse. State officials also didn’t take into consideration whether property owners would be willing to give up their flatlands, Cameron said.

Both Cameron and Kristin Reynolds, president of the advocacy group People Achieving Recreation and Community Services (PARCS), which for months has pleaded with city officials for more athletic fields, urged a continuing dialogue with the state.

Reynolds noted the state has compelling reasons for taking over the park and people should learn what they are. “We have to learn how we can fit in,” she said. “We have to go into this as a cooperative effort.”

Reynolds urged people to express their views at the Aug. 5 workshop so the state could be presented with a different scenario.

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

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