Coastal Commission standing firm on declaring most of Malibu an ESHA

City manager said the commission is willing to take another look at the proposed Crummer Trust/Bluffs Park deal.

By Frank Reneau/Special to The Malibu Times

Talk continued at Monday night’s City Council meeting about the California Coastal Commission’s draft Land Use Plan (LUP) for Malibu, with the commission’s staff electing not to have any more adjustments to their Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHA) policies.

Representatives from the city manager’s office met with the Coastal Commission last week and provided a briefing on the status of the LUP.

What CCC staff made clear was that the major issue, the expansive Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHAs) designated in the LUP for Malibu, would not change.

“The Coastal Commission staff is not particularly interested in discussing, reviewing or having any other modifications to their ESHA maps or their policies related to them,” said Lichtig.

Lichtig indicated later that CCC staff said they were confident in their science, which they used to support the ESHA designations and were interested in educating the city and others on how they reached their conclusions.

“The Coastal Commission staff was showing a great interest in working with us on a number of different issues. We didn’t get any firm commitments, so it was hard to say what the outcome would be,” said Lichtig. “The staff did say they were interested in making a presentation to us of more complete information on the ESHA maps.”

But apparently there were concerns from the public, as indicated by former mayor John Harlow, about closed-door sessions and meetings with developers and commission staff.

“Only two of you are dealing with the Coastal Commission,” Harlow said. “It’s not how it was in the old days. There were public hearings where people could be heard.”

Councilmember Ken Kearsley addressed the issue, noting the tense nature of the situation.

“Private negotiation is a delicate time when you have to watch what you’re saying and doing,” said Kearsley. “At some point, this information will be public and the sides will decide where they stand.”

Lichtig later indicated the other issues commission staff said they would relook at were the proposed Crummer Trust deal regarding Bluffs Park ball fields and also some of the down zoning. She was hopeful there might be some adjustments on those issues.

In other matters:

The City Council expressed its support for Proposition 42 (Transportation Congestion Act) on the ballot next week, and finally approved a rate order for Charter Communications, Malibu’s cable company, after a long negotiation.

The council delayed a decision on a proposal for the appropriation of $50,000 to prepare an economic element of the General Plan and to provide a commercial and office supply and demand study that had previously been recommended to the council by the Malibu Business Roundtable.

“I’m a little uncomfortable to approve a $50,000 appropriation without some information about what other changes have been made in the reserve since we approved the budget,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Jennings.

Councilmember Tom Hasse said of the issue: “This has been through quite a review process. The economic element of the General Plan, will force, by law, future planning commissions and city councils to look at the economic impacts of projects as they come before decision makers. It does not predict or force an outcome.”

The matter was referred back to Administrative Services.

Also on the agenda was what decision would be made in how to help the Point Dume Community Services District (PDCSD) provide weekend access for the public to Cameron Park. The park is usually closed on weekends since staffing provided through the Malibu Parks and Recreation Department is only available during the week.

There was talk of both the parks department and PDCSD working together in operating a maintenance schedule, but the idea was scrapped when Nidra Winger-Moss, who already runs the park, proposed that $7,355 in city funds be given to open Cameron Park on the weekends. There was concern that the parks department would not have enough in its own budget to provide weekend maintenance.

“It’s policy time,” said Councilmember Sharon Barovsky. “I watched that park grow and would like to see it stay as much as possible with the community district that has built it, brought it along and is intimately involved in it.”

The council voted to provide the necessary $7,355 funding to the PDCSD to keep the park open on weekends through June 31, the end of this fiscal year.

Councilmembers also agreed to approve the Neighborhood Traffic Plan Process, which creates a process for citizens to follow to obtain traffic changes in their neighborhoods.

A new official city Web site for Malibu (www.ci.Malibu.ca.us) was also unveiled on Monday, with up-to-date coastal plan information, as well as other items, including council meeting agendas and information about the city itself.

In other action, the council decided to award a Malibu city tile, the city’s award of recognition, to Lt. Thom Bradstock, the outgoing sheriff’s Malibu liaison and welcomed his replacement, Lt. Steve Van Herpe.

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

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