Point Dume palm trees cause uproar

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Several palm trees that have been planted at the Point Dume Village, formerly the home of Cooke's Family Market and the Dume Room, have upset neighbors. Photo by Robert Overby / TMT

Residents complain that new palm trees at Point Dume Village block their view; one threatens to file a lawsuit.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

As construction continues on the remodeling of Point Dume Village in preparation for a fall grand opening of its new Pavilions, some neighbors are complaining that added palm trees and streetlights are obstructing what once was a great view of the mountains. Heathercliff Road resident Brendan Kinney said he would like to see the trees lowered, and said he will file a lawsuit over the matter if it comes to that.

Several palm trees have been planted on the mall property along Heathercliff Road. Their exact height is not known, but they are several feet taller than the roofs of the buildings. The tops of the trees have been tied up. There are smaller, thinner palm trees that have been placed throughout the parking lot. Also, additional streetlights have been added to the area.

“We used to have one of the best non-ocean views in all of Malibu right up Zuma Canyon, and we could watch the seasons change and the hawks roost,” said Kinney, who added that he fears his view will be further tarnished once the tops of the palm trees along the road have been untied.

Kinney is also bothered by the new lights, which he said are too bright and also are in the way of his mountain view.

Kinney said he has contacted city staff members about the matter, but they have been unresponsive. He also has tried to get in touch with Zan Marquis, owner of Point Dume Village, or somebody from the management company in charge of the mall. But no one has returned his calls. Marquis declined to comment on the complaints when contacted by The Malibu Times on Tuesday.

A few other Heathercliff Road residents said they wanted the palm trees shortened. They said they have trusted Kinney to find a solution.

“I just told him anything he needs me to do, I’ll do,” said Kinney’s neighbor, Skip Brownell. “Fighting Malibu City and fighting big development is like beating your head against a wall.”

There are many other neighbors on Heathercliff Road and other portions of Point Dume upset about the palm trees, Kinney said. And he plans to approach the City Council about the matter at its next meeting on Aug. 27. None of the permits Marquis has obtained for the remodel have needed council approval, and have been processed through the city staff. Stephanie Danner, the city planner assigned to the project, did not return calls for this story.

Kinney said a compromise is possible if Marquis could shorten the trees and make the lighting less intrusive.

“We’re not necessarily anti-anything,” Kinney said. “We need the view back. There are so many ways to compromise on this. And it doesn’t make any sense [for Marquis] to completely disregard any communication with the neighbors and destroy half of what they like about where they live.”

But Kinney said if it takes a lawsuit to change the matter, he will file one.

“Whatever avenue is going to work, that’s what we’re going to pursue,” Kinney said.

Marquis purchased Point Dume Village, then known as Point Dume Plaza, from Jerry Preston in 2005 for approximately $24 million. Since that time, many changes have been made to the mall. Cooke’s Family Market was closed, and a Pavilions is being built in its place. The 25,000-square-foot grocery store structure will include the former Cooke’s building as well as the adjacent 2,000-square-foot pharmacy and the 3,000-square-foot former home of Malibu Gymnastics.

Other businesses have left the mall or are being reassigned new spaces. Some community uproar arose last year when the Dume Room, a bar that had been there for 34 years, was forced to close. There were some protests in the days leading up to the closure, including passionate pleas at a City Council meeting. Although some city officials sympathized, most of them said they did not have the power to do anything. Marquis had no interest in keeping the bar open, telling The Malibu Times in November that the Dume Room did not fit with his vision of what Point Dume Village should be.

Other changes to the mall have included the construction of a water fountain and the placement of additional vegetation. Also, newly paved pathways are being built. Marquis said in June that there is also a plan to put portable kiosk shops in front of the fountain.

The opening of Pavilions and the completion of the redesign are expected to take place in the fall.