After six years, Sohm says farewell

Hayden Sohm, Malibu sector superintendent for California State Parks, has been promoted to district superintendent of the Sierra District.

Malibu sector superintendent for California State Parks Hayden Sohm arrived on the shores of Malibu in January 1998, and after six years at a post which he described as the best assignment he’s ever had, Sohm is accepting a promotion to district superintendent of the Sierra District. While Sohm will vacate his Malibu office on Aug. 29 for one of the most coveted positions in the State Park’s system, a successor has yet to be chosen.

“I was surprised and honored when I was offered the position,” Sohm said. “I was considering retirement, and this promotion will give me the opportunity to expand my horizons and help me with my retirement.”

The district superintendent for the Sierra District is responsible for all the state parks in the Lake Tahoe region. That includes Empire Mine, Eureka and Mona Lake. Sohm will relocate to Lake Tahoe, take up residence in Tahoma and prepare for the winters.

“I’m not really used to all of that snow,” he said.

The status of filling Sohm’s shoes is in the recruitment stage. It will be months before a replacement is hired. Sohm said he hopes his successor will be able to work with the city for the benefit of the community.

“Ideally we’ll get someone with a balanced prospective who can work with local government,” Sohm said.

Sohm described his experiences in Malibu as fulfilling, but noted that six years ago the relationship between State Parks, the City Council and the city managers was tenuous. One of his proudest accomplishments was creating an effective relationship with the city founders. He conceded that while often at opposite sides on a variety of issues, together they’ve worked in a positive direction.

Point Dume was a hot spot when Sohm took his Malibu post in 1998. There were beach access and parking problems. Sohm helped create a dialogue that led to an amicable resolution for visitors and residents.

This set the stage for a number of successes during his tenure. He recalls one of the most prominent being at the historic Adamson House.

“Acquiring the collection at the Adamson House was an achievement,” Sohm said. “When it surfaced that artifacts owned by the family might be sold, we were able to preserve them under state control.”

Another key accomplishment during his tenure was the repair and restoration of the Malibu Pier. He said that the project is close to completion and the addition of concessionaires to the historic pier will invigorate the local economy.

While Sohm leaves a legacy for his successor that includes standing conflicts between surfers and windsurfers over the break at Leo Carrillo State Park, and trail usage issues between mountain bikers and equestrians, there are several outstanding concerns that will need to be addressed by the incoming sector superintendent.

“There’s an inherent conflict between recreation and preservation,” Sohm said. “People see parks as a place to recreate and we need to preserve and protect that property.”

In addition to overcoming limitations of a shrinking budget, the new sector superintendent will inherit ongoing negotiations between State Parks and the city of Malibu over the use of land at Bluffs Park. Sohm said the prospect of the removal of Rindge Dam is another potential hot spot on the horizon for the incoming sector superintendent.

Overall, Sohm said his experiences in Malibu were rewarding.

“Working in Malibu has been very gratifying,” Sohm said. “I’m going to miss Malibu, it’s the best assignment I’ve ever had.”