Chili Cook-Off land purchase fundraising kicks into high gear

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At Monday night’s council meeting, groups pitch their ideas to raise funds for city purchase of land in the Civic Center-the deadline is less than four months away. Also at the meeting, the governing body chooses three items in the Local Coastal Program it wants to amend.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

With less than four months remaining until the deadline for the city to come up with the money to buy the Chili Cook-Off site, representatives from two groups trying to raise money from private donors for the purchase made their pleas during Monday’s City Council meeting. The council and the public watching the meeting in person or on television heard from Susan Shaw, the city’s fundraising consultant, and Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy Treasurer Ozzie Silna.

Chili Cook-Off site owner Malibu Bay Co. has offered to sell the land, a 20-acre property located along Pacific Coast Highway from Cross Creek Road to Webb Way, to the city for $25 million if it can come up with the money by Dec. 31. Many in Malibu want the land purchased so that it can be taken out of the commercial development market and it has been proposed to be part of wastewater/storm treatment program that could curb pollution of the Malibu watershed.

So far, the city has accumulated $4 million through Santa Monica College Measure S money and a grant from the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission. Malibu also expects to get another $8.5 million through a finance plan and the heads of the California State Coastal Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board have recommended to their state agencies that they approve separate $2 million grants for Malibu. The agencies will vote on whether to approve the grants in October. Malibu has applied for other grants as well, but it is unlikely it will reach the $25 million mark without private donations. Shaw said at the council meeting that she is focusing on major donors rather then raising the money through many small projects and events because of the close deadline.

“We need to use our time wisely since our time period is very small,” Shaw said.

However, Shaw said she encourages people to raise money through things like parties and events, too. Shaw said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that she expects to be ready with an announcement about a donation in about a week.

Silna said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that the MCLC has already received $2 million in commitments and he expects the organization to raise more money.

Also at the meeting, the council decided Local Coastal Program rules on bluffs setbacks, public beach access and shoreline protective devices are the three items the city will work with the California Coastal Commission to amend. The Planning Commission will weigh in on the issue at a later meeting and then the City Council will approve the final wording of the proposed amendment, which will also include 20 other items on which the city and the Coastal Commission staff have already agreed. City Manager Katie Lichtig said in an interview last month that the city will be ready to send the proposal to the Coastal Commission staff for review by January.

As part of a written agreement, the coastal staff, after receiving and reviewing the proposal, within six months must either recommend its approval to the coastal voting body or suggest to the city how the amendment could be modified. After the process is complete, the city will send the coastal staff more amendment proposals.

Additionally, the council gave final approval to an ordinance banning the selling of food and drinks in plastic foam containers. Councilmember Jeff Jennings wanted to delay the vote until the next meeting because the city had not heard final word on whether environmental groups were going to conduct a study on the effects of the ordinance. But he was unable to get support from any of his colleagues on the dais.

In other matters: The council officially approved the deal for the city to purchase the 10 acres of Bluffs Park containing the ball fields for $2 million. The deal must be finalized by several state agencies. Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich said she would be putting a proposal before the council in November for an April ballot measure to ban retail chain stores in Malibu.