Group gathers to debate Malibu Lagoon construction


A group of approximately 16 Malibu Colony residents last week held a neighborhood meeting to debate the state-proposed restoration and enhancement of the adjacent Malibu Lagoon. Mark Abramson and Tom Ford of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, an environmental group involved with the furthering of the proposed project, and environmentalists Marcia Hanscom and Roy Van De Hoek also attended the meeting.

The plan, proposed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation that owns the land, was slated for review by the Coastal Commission this week, but has been postponed to August.

The project includes plans to restore and enhance Malibu Lagoon to improve its ecosystem by recontouring its configuration, slopes and drainage. Approximately 51,200 cubic yards of cut and 37,500 cubic yards of fill are proposed, as well as the export of about 13,700 cubic yards of soil.

Also proposed is the construction of public access trails around the lagoon to replace the bridges that currently allow public access across the lagoon to Surfrider Beach, and public educational amenities, which include a picnic area.

The project report states that since the early 1900s, increased human activity has degraded Malibu Lagoon and the surrounding wetland ecosystem. The restoration project was proposed to address this situation under a grant from the California State Coastal Conservancy.

Abramson and Ford were asked to attend the meeting by the Malibu Colony residents, who expressed a variety of concerns they had about the project.

Most of the residents agreed that the lagoon, a 13-acre shallow water embayment, located at the terminus of the Malibu Creek Watershed and adjacent to the Malibu Colony neighborhood, needs improvement. But they identified some parts of the project they said could threaten public safety.

One of those threats they said is the implementation of a public picnic area, which the residents said could result in a wild fire spurred by the rural, vegetative atmosphere of the area. Much concern was expressed over the need for constant supervision of such a public amenity, especially if barbecues and other fire-inducing tools were allowed.

The project also includes the construction of a six-foot high wall along the portion of Malibu Colony that borders the lagoon to protect the privacy of residents. Some of the residents, however, said a wall of that height would not ensure their privacy. Others recommended it be increased to eight feet tall. Residents also requested that such a wall include emergency exits so they would have an alternative to the neighborhood’s main exit, which also serves as an entrance.