During the 1/28 council meeting, Councilmember Rosenthal asked how the council can be accused of secret negotiations to trade Charmlee Park, not having researched if sports fields can be built on Bluffs Park. House and La Monte, ostensibly without council or public knowledge, met with Edmiston, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy executive director, to “float” the idea of trading Charmlee for Bluffs Park.
Obviously, Edmiston thought the city had made an offer, because he subsequently met with the city’s manager and attorney and SMMC’s full legal team and hammered out the details. Still no public knowledge! Then, the Charmlee trade appears on the SMMC’s agenda and next on the Jan. 14 City Council agenda, without public notice. Alarmed residents email to warn others and they appear to protest.
Why would the council do this? In 2007, that council almost gave Edmiston permission for overnight camping in Charmlee. Residents vigorously objected (the Corral fire was started by park users) and the city backed off. Why don’t we want campsites? Fire danger! Rules prohibiting fires can’t be enforced in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Fire danger is the issue.
The Jan. 14 City Council minutes are out, and guess what the lead sentence is in the motion unanimously approved? “Direct the city attorney to negotiate agreements and implementing documents to effect land swap of Charmlee Wilderness Park for approximately 83 acres of Bluffs Park.” During that meeting the council denied the swap was a done deal, directing staff to determine if sports fields can be built on the useable 10 percent of Bluffs Park and consider fire danger of wilderness campsites among other issues.
At the Jan. 28 meeting, the council still declared they were just considering the idea of this swap—nothing on paper—no details. Then why does the Jan. 14 motion direct the city attorney to prepare documents to effect the swap of Charmlee for Bluffs? I call upon the City Council to rescind the language of that motion and work with residents to get the sports fields they want without risking burning down western Malibu.