California Coastal Commission grants approval for Perenchio golf course

Thirteen conditions were added to the agreement, which was made after nearly a year of negotiations between Coastal Commission staff and representatives of Malibu Bay Co. President Jerry Perenchio.

By Mark Bassett/Special to The Malibu Times

At its meeting last week, the California Coastal Commission granted Malibu Bay Co. President Jerry Perenchio a coastal permit for his 10-acre, three-hole golf course property in exchange for his agreement to donate the property as open space to the state after his and his wife’s death. The after-the-fact permit approval for the golf course, which was built more than 20 years ago, comes after months of negotiations between the Coastal Commission staff and Perenchio’s representatives. Input was also received from the environmental organization, Wetlands Action Network.

The agreement was announced last month, but the Coastal Commission needed to give final approval. The finalized version of the deal includes 13 conditions, some of them coming at the advice of the Malibu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, which submitted recommendations to the commission prior to last week’s meeting.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our chapter’s accomplishments,” said Alan Reed, the chapter’s chair. “The fact that significant improvements were made to the final plan at the last hour, thanks to the hard work and persistence of the Surfrider Foundation represents a huge win for our chapter, for Malibu and for the environment.”

Included among the final conditions were that an on-site wastewater treatment system be built on a wide strip of land east of the stone wall to where native drought-tolerant plants will act as a buffer from the Malibu Lagoon. Also, there will be restrictions on the amount of lighting allowed. In addition, a series of checks and balances suggested by the Surfrider Foundation were approved, including sealing all underground outlets from the putting greens to prevent seepage into the lagoon, capital improvement to the course drainage system, access given to daily records of grounds maintenance and pesticide usage, a computerized recording system to monitor surface runoff to the lagoon and photographic confirmation of the conditions of the coastal permit.

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The Surfrider Foundation had been a force in trying to prevent Perenchio from getting the coastal permit last year. It circulated a petition for which it gathered 2,000 signatures from around the world demanding that his request be denied. The chapter and other environmental organizations, including the Wetlands Action Network, alleged that the golf facility had caused dangerous pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and other pollutants to enter Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach, something Perenchio representatives denied. The Wetlands Action Network had filed a lawsuit over the matter, but agreed to drop it after the deal was made with the Coastal Commission staff.

Perenchio had built the golf facility in 1982 after receiving a coastal permit for a number of things, including an eight-foot rock wall, a jogging track, three ponds, irrigation and lighting systems, a dish radio receiver and three gazebos for his Malibu Colony property.

The golf facility was known to exist by many in Southern California, but the issue had never before been formally presented to the state. However, last summer the Wetlands Action Network alerted the Coastal Commission to it, forcing Perenchio to go before the state agency to get an after-the-fact permit. The commission chose to continue the item while Perenchio representatives negotiated with Coastal Commission staff. It was then supposed to go before the commission in November, but that never occurred.

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

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