Parking dispute delays skate park plans

City officials are working with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to resolve a dispute over temporary parking at Bluffs Park.

By Sigourney B. Nunez / Special to The Malibu Times

The City of Malibu is working with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to resolve a dispute over a temporary parking lot next to Bluffs Park as part of moving skate park ramps to the park.

City officials have identified the parking lot next to the Michael Landon Community Center as a temporary site for skate ramps that were formerly located at Papa Jack’s Skate Park. In order to compensate for the lost parking spots, the city struck an agreement with the owners of the Crummer property next to Bluffs Park to use part of their land as a temporary parking lot.

But when the city applied to the Planning Commission for a coastal development permit to use the land as a parking lot on May 15, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy raised concerns about the project, saying the plan violates a deed restriction.

“There’s serious legal restrictions on the property and we can’t just look the other way,” said Laurie Collins, chief staff counsel of the SMMC.

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The skate park will take up 41 of 75 parking spots at the northern corner of the lot in the park, and vacant land will be converted into additional parking with more than 100 spaces, according to a city commission report. The SMMC says the plan violates a deed restriction.

According to the deed restriction, public access to the parking lot on a first-come, first-serve basis is granted to the SMMC and the public. The SMMC believes the proposed project will overuse the area and will be deterrent to a nearby trailhead.

“The people of the state of California hold parking rights over the parking lot and is to be shared for the intended use. To add (parking) is an overburden to the parking,” Collins said. “I think we have some good reasoning for (raising concerns).”

The Planning Commission will consider on June 5 whether to approve the proposed project. According to the commission’s agenda, additional time will be allowed to resolve any issues with the SMMC. A public hearing is scheduled for June 19.

Though the process to move the project forward was delayed, both agencies intend to meet and discuss the matter.

“We are trying to come up with a mutual agreement,” said city planner Stephanie Edmondson. “We just delayed it so we can meet with (the SMMC) and go over it and it will be moving forward shortly to the planning commission.”

Last October, Papa Jack’s Skate Park was closed when developer Steve Soboroff did not renew the lease with the park because of plans to build a Whole Foods grocery and associated development on the grounds. Soboroff sponsored a party when the park came to a close and donated $25,000 to help move the ramps elsewhere.

The city considered more than half a dozen sights for the relocation of the park. An ad-hoc committee was formed to explore alternatives. Recently elected councilmember Skylar Peak is dedicated to bring the skate park project up to speed.

“It’s nonsense that the city delayed moving the skate park openly knowing when the lease would expire,” Peak said. “The fact that there was no contingency plan was continually addressed by the skateboarding community.”

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

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