More money coming in for Chili purchase


Steve Soboroff, whose company gave $250,000, says the people who “talk the talk” need to “walk the walk” by donating. Also, the city attorney announces that a business will be opening at the old Malibu Lumber building soon.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

The city of Malibu is inching closer toward reaching the $25 million it needs to buy the Chili Cook-Off property. Last week the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission approved a $2 million grant. And on Monday, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy gave the go-ahead on another $2 million grant and tentatively approved an additional $2 million, which must get final passage from the state Wildlife Conservation Board. Also, at Monday’s City Council meeting, a presentation was made announcing that the owners of Malibu Creek Plaza had donated $250,000 to the cause.

The city has until Dec. 31 to come up with $25 million to purchase the 20-acre Chili Cook-Off site, a term set by current property owner Malibu Bay Co. But city officials have said the money actually needs to be ready by early December to allow enough time for the transaction to be ready to go by the end of the year.

So far, the city has accumulated $1.5 million from the Santa Monica College Measure S fund and a $2.5 million grant from the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission (an additional grant to the $2 million it received from the commission last week). With that money, combined with $8.5 million the city will receive through the selling of bonds and the grant money and donations it received this past week, the city has raised about $16.75 million.

Malibu will hear next month whether it will receive final approval from the Wildlife Conservation Board on the conservancy grant and will learn on Dec. 8 whether the State Coastal Conservancy will support a $2 million request.

As for raising money from the private sector, Malibu Creek Plaza’s offer is the first major donation. As part of a deal involved in the contribution, the city acknowledges that the Malibu Creek Plaza has satisfied its requirement under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, which mandates the city and county meet storm water prevention pollution standards. City Manager Katie Lichtig said in a telephone interview Tuesday that other Civic Center property owners have been asked if they would like to make a contribution similar to Malibu Creek Plaza’s, but so far nobody has agreed to do that.

Steve Soboroff, majority owner of the plaza, challenged others at Monday’s meeting.

“If we [Malibu Creek Plaza] are the first major contribution, you guys [the city] are in trouble,” Soboroff said. “If people don’t jump in now [the city might not collect all the money it needs]. You’ve [the city] got a huge list of [possible contributors] who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.”

The city has raised smaller amounts of money from other contributors. At Monday’s meeting, longtime Malibu resident Mary Frampton was announced as the first private contributor. Also, Ralphs courtesy clerk Darren McMaster was recognized for his weekly donations of $25 out of his paychecks.

Lumber yard to be reoccupied?

As part of Malibu’s fundraising effort, it will be issuing $8.5 million in bonds that will be repaid through the rent money it receives from the three structures on the Chili Cook-Off property: Coldwell Banker, Malibu Animal Hospital and the recently vacated Malibu Lumber building. But there could be a new occupant in that building in the near future.

City Attorney Christi Hogin said at Monday’s council meeting that Malibu Bay was finalizing a deal with a business that would be opening a store on the Chili Cook-Off property. Hogin would not say the name of the business or if it is a lumber company. Malibu Bay officials did not return calls for this article.

Although Dave Anawalt, the head of West Los Angeles-based Anawalt Lumber, never confirmed it, a source close to the story told The Malibu Times earlier this year that Anawalt Lumber and Malibu Bay had nearly closed a deal for the lumber company to open a store on the Chili Cook-Off site. That deal, the source said, fell through over a dispute about the rent amount and Malibu Bay’s demand for Anawalt to pay for a $300,000 septic tank. Anawalt did not return a call for comment on whether his company is the one that will move onto the property.