Adamson House Repairs Coming, Eventually

The Adamson House, located off of Pacific Coast Highway between the Malibu Lagoon and Malibu Pier, marked 85 years since it was constructed. 

Brown lawns, dry creek beds and failing crops are all symptoms of the California mega-drought, but if there’s one silver lining that comes with the drought here in Malibu, it’s that damage to the Historic Adamson House has been kept to a minimum.

Issues with the 85-year-old building are expected to include extensive water damage, according to State Parks Angeles District Superintendent Craig Sap, since water has leaked into the foundation of the house and likely damaged the structure.

“We’ve been fortunate in the last three years that we haven’t had a lot of rain that has caused additional damage on the residence,” Sap told The Malibu Times.

Since California Governor Jerry Brown signed the state budget on July 1, $7.58 million is reportedly heading Malibu’s way for necessary maintenance at the Malibu Pier, beach access at Point Dume and the Adamson House near the Malibu Lagoon. This money makes up a large portion of the $20 million in deferred maintenance projects approved by Brown for State Parks across California.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 4, the funds for the Adamson House aren’t quite in the hands of the Angeles District, said Sap, but funds for the pier, totaling $4.6 million, and the beach access stairs at Point Dume, totaling $2.7 million, are on their way.

In the final installment in a three part series, The Malibu Times reports what the $247,500 reportedly allocated for the Adamson House will go toward — and unlike the previous two projects, it’s a little more complicated than digging right in.

Setting off in the right direction

According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation deferred maintenance list, the Adamson House appears to be on its last leg.

“Leaks are damaging sensitive historic finishes in the living room, the dining room and the covered outdoor patios,” the document states. “Loss of these features will close high revenue and historically significant facility.”

The extent of the issue does not appear to be up for debate among the house’s caretakers, but how to best approach the issue has divided stakeholders.

According to Sap, a new study must be made in order to properly address what repairs need to be done in the house in the most effective way possible.

“It’s a forensic type study that will look at repairs, [and] will be the blueprint for what needs to be done,” Sap said.

“The process I’m envisioning is we’re going to find an engineering company that specializes in historic structures,” Sap detailed. “We’ll find a company, likely through the bidding process, that will come in … and they’ll do tests to determine where the water’s coming in [and] where it’s going.”

Sap said after the first company comes and does the analysis, a second company can then exclude the water, seal off the problem areas and do repairs.

But some stakeholders, including eight-year Adamson House Foundation Board of Directors member Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner, are frustrated by the wait.

“Now to spend $250,000 on another report to tell us what needs to be fixed, seems like a $250,000 waste,” a frustrated Wagner said, stating that the 10-year-old Getty Report, an extensive document detailing repairs needed to the structure, would be sufficient. “Bureaucrats like to be able to point at a report, and a recent report is more valuable than a 10-year-old report.”

Others associated with the house, including Foundation President Linas Kojelis, have long held that money raised by the foundation should go toward repairs, while state money should be spent on the report.

“There’s a strong consensus [on the Board] that this money should be used primarily for construction on the house,” Kojelis told The Malibu Times in June.

Kojelis could not be reached in time for this story.

Time is of the essence

“It’s going to take six months to a year to do another Getty Report, so that’s another six months to a year where everybody gets to sit around and bitch and moan,” Wagner predicted.

Sap provided a slightly more optimistic timeline, though he said it’s “hard to determine” how soon it would come together.

“With El Niño coming up, it’s even more important to have this done now,” Sap added.

An El Niño weather event is expected this upcoming winter, bringing heavy rains, and according to Sap, it’s unlikely the house will be properly sealed up by then. 

“We have plans in place to do as much of the water exclusion as possible with tarps and stuff, but that’s time consuming for staff to have to keep doing that,” Sap said.