The city of Malibu has until December 2005 to come up with $25 million to purchase the property. Although not required, the city can build a wastewater/stormwater treatment facility on the property. Nothing else can be built there.
By Jonathan Friedman/Assistant Editor
Malibu Bay Co. attorney Dick Volpert has sent a letter to Malibu city attorney Christi Hogin to confirm the company is willing to sell the Chili Cook-Off property to the city for $25 million. Malibu has until December 31, 2005 to come up with the money, although a passage in Volpert’s letter states that Malibu Bay could sell the property to another buyer at any time if more than $25 million is offered.
A major stipulation of the purchase is that nothing could be built by the city on the property except for a wastewater/stormwater treatment facility, meaning this purchase would do nothing to solve Malibu’s quest for ball fields. While attempts in the past to purchase the coveted 20-acre property that lies along Pacific Coast Highway between Webb Way and Cross Creek Road have been marred by conflict among Malibu politicians and activists, so far, the major players this time are all on the same page.
“We are now in a position to help plan for a future for Malibu that everybody was looking for,” said Steve Uhring, president of Malibu CAN, the political group that successfully led the campaign against Malibu’s last attempt to buy the Chili Cook-Off site through the Malibu Bay Co. Development Agreement. Voters rejected that agreement when it came before them in November 2003 in the form of Measure M.
The letter also received praise from Ozzie Silna, Malibu CAN’s largest financial contributor. Silna said he is working to raise funds for the purchase through private donations. Also, he said he would support the $135 million Santa Monica College bond measure, Proposition S, which residents will vote on in November. Twenty-five million dollars of that money will be designated toward Malibu, and it has been proposed that some of that money could go toward purchasing the Chili Cook-Off site. Mayor Sharon Barovsky said she was pleased to have the support of Silna, who is not a usual political ally.
“I’m delighted that we all seem to be on the same page,” Barovsky said. “It sounds as though Malibu is united at last, at least on this issue.”
In addition to private donations and money possibly coming from the passage of Proposition S, city officials said money could be obtained from the state. Barovsky said she had been unable to talk to officials in Sacramento about helping with a municipal purchase of the Chili Cook-Off site because a willing seller letter did not exist. Now that there is such a letter, she said there would be discussions with state officials. State agencies could be willing to give Malibu money if it agrees to build a wastewater/stormwater treatment facility on the property, because of a statewide desire to clean the Malibu watershed.
If a wastewater/stormwater treatment facility were built on the Chili Cook-Off property, according to the letter, the city must allow Malibu Bay to hook up all its properties to that facility. This stipulation was also included in Measure M, and was a reason for some of the opposition, with people saying Malibu Bay wanted to hook up to the facility so it did not have to get rid of its own wastewater onsite, and therefore being able to build more on its properties. But Silna said the circumstances are different this time, because unlike with Measure M, Malibu Bay has not indicated that it plans to build on its other vacant properties.
“I believe this is something that the city and most of the people who opposed Measure M, although I can’t speak for everybody, can support,” Silna said.
One piece of a larger picture
If Proposition S money were to be used to buy the Chili Cook-Off site, this could mean the college would want to put an educational facility on the property. The college has proposed placing a 25,000-square foot building with about 10 classrooms in Malibu. Although no new buildings would be able to be constructed on a Malibu-owned Chili Cook-Off site, there are already three buildings on the property that house Malibu Lumber, Coldwell Banker and the animal hospital. Volpert’s letter allows for the city to replace any of those buildings as long as the new structures are no larger than 30,0000 square feet.
However, City Councilmember Ken Kearsley said the Chili Cook-Off site is not the exclusive target for Proposition S money. He said the city is looking at several other properties. That could mean that some of the bond money would go toward purchasing the Chili Cook-Off site, while other portions of it could go toward buying other vacant properties such as the Crummer site, located next to Malibu Bluffs Park. Other sites purchased with Proposition S money could also be used to house the new educational facility and ball fields.