Point Dume residents protest Safe Routes project

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Several residents say their questions about the project have repeatedly gone unanswered. In other matters, city works to close Chili escrow.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

For the second consecutive meeting, several Point Dume residents addressed the City Council to express their concerns about the Point Dume Safe Routes to School project, a plan to create pathways along local streets for use by children going to Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School.

The residents, many of whom introduced themselves as members of a newly formed organization called Point Dume Voice for Safety, said there was little information available about the project and their questions to city staff about it have gone unanswered. Several people added that the city should address the problem of cars speeding in Point Dume before considering the construction of pathways.

“To an outsider, one could get the impression that you are trying to ram this project through without justification as no one wants to answer questions for us,” said Susan Flanigan, who said she was not opposed to public safety but rather to this particular project.

Flanigan and other residents said they had contacted city officials about the project and received no responses. Deputy City Engineer Claudio Sanchez said he has responded to most of the communications sent to his office about the project, and has spoken with 40 to 50 families about the plan.

There is some concern that the pathways could be built on people’s property. Councilmember Sharon Barovsky said that she had heard rumors that the real issue was that several Point Dume residents had extended their properties into the city right-of-way.

“Now you don’t want kids to walk safely to school because your rock garden may be in that [pathway],” Barovksy said.

Several shouts of disgust could be heard from the audience in response to Barovsky’s comment.

Interim City Manager John Jalili said there would be two more public meetings regarding the project. He said they haven’t been scheduled yet because city staff is still preparing its work on the project so it will be fully prepared for productive meetings.

City working on completing Chili escrow

Also at the meeting, City Attorney Christi Hogin said the city had worked out some language details with its agreement with the State Water Resources Control Board so that it can receive the $2.5 million grant it had been promised for the Chili Cook-Off site municipal acquisition. However, Mayor Andy Stern said in an interview on Tuesday he doubts the city will actually receive the money prior to March 29, when escrow is expected to close on the property.

Certificates of participation, which are similar to bonds, are scheduled to be printed on Friday and will be marketed for two weeks after that. The city will gain $18 million through that process, which it must pay back through the rent money it will receive from the tenants of the structures on the Chili Cook-Off site. The city is accumulating the rest of the funds to reach the $25 million sum it needs for the acquisition through donations from residents, city money, a contribution from the county and Santa Monica College Measure S bond money.

LCP amendment proposals approved

Additionally, the council approved several amendment proposals to the Malibu Local Coastal Program that will be sent to the California Coastal Commission.

The amendments include a reduction in the bluff-top setback minimum from 100 feet to 50 feet, an elimination of the requirement of waivers for the construction and maintenance of shoreline protective devices and an incorporation of the city’s stringline rule into the LCP. The amendments also address other issues, including technical language corrections.

The council must review the language for the amendments at its next meeting before final approval. They will then be sent to the Coastal Commission staff for review. The staff must either recommend the Coastal Commission voting body approve the amendments or tell the city why it does not find them to be satisfactory.

Lastly, the council appointed Gianna Fote and Emily Laetz to the Harry Barovsky Memorial Youth Commission.