Las Flores project begins


The city has completed some minor work as part of the first phase of the Las Flores Park Improvement project. But the rest of the first phase of the project is on hold until the city can obtain a coastal development permit. No coastal permit has been issued in Malibu in more than a year due to the city’s dispute with the California Coastal Commission over the Local Coastal Program. Also, further phases of the project, which include restoration of the creek and the eventual creation of a full-scale park, will require coastal permits.

The work that was finished included the removal of weeds and other brush that were adjacent to a footpath. Also, weed abatement and brush clearance were done in open areas of the park that the city said were overgrown. Lastly, portions of a fence were installed that runs parallel to Las Flores Canyon Road.

Marcia Hanscom of the Wetlands Action Network had complained that even the portion of the project done so far required a permit. Hanscom did not respond to numerous phone calls from The Malibu Times. City Manager Katie Lichtig responded to this accusation in a letter to Gary Timm, head of the Coastal Commission staff at its Ventura Office.

“Let me reassure you that this work was limited to maintenance and repair in the park,” Lichtig wrote. “Moreover, this work is not in any way, shape or form implementation of the larger concept plan for the park that was previously approved.”

Hanscom had raised a concern about the impact of the work done so far on the area’s natural biological resources. In response, the city’s biologist, Dave Crawford, visited the site to examine the situation. In his report to the city, he wrote that the work actually helped natural plants.

“Many of the landscape plants utilized in the landscaping are not only non-native, but are highly invasive and actively displace native vegetation,” he wrote. “The removal of such vegetation will ultimately improve the natural functions and values of the surrounding habitat.”

The first phase of the project also calls for the demolition of existing structures on the property. That is on hold until a coastal permit can be obtained.

A contract has been awarded for the design of the second phase of the project, with construction set to begin some time in September 2004, assuming the LCP dispute is settled. It includes the removal of further invasive non-native vegetation, grading the site to its natural contours and armoring the toe of the Rambla landslide with what the city has referred to as bio-engineered solutions.

The third phase of the project includes the development of a natural trail and the construction of a pedestrian bridge across the creek to connect the park to a future parking lot to be built at the end of Rambla Pacifico Street. Also, a children’s play area, fencing and a restroom will be constructed.

The city has already obtained grant money for the first and second phases of the project. The city must secure funds for the third phase of the project, which will cost just over $1 million. At its meeting Monday, the City Council approved a staff recommendation to use Community Development Block Grant money for the installation of a portable zero-discharge restroom facility at the park.

Despite only being in its infancy of total development, the park will be opened shortly. Lichtig said the city is waiting on some benches and a few other items. A community reception will be held at the park sometime in the near future when it opens.