Second Civic Center property owner willing to sell to city

The Yamaguchi Family Trust has offered to sell its three Civic Center properties, totaling 17 acres, to the city for $20 million. Mayor Sharon Barovsky said the city would be negotiating to lower that price.

By Jonathan Friedman/Assistant Editor

The Yamaguchi Family Trust sent a letter to the city last month stating that it is willing to sell its three Civic Center properties at a cost of $20 million. This letter precedes the one sent from the Malibu Bay Co. earlier this month to state its willingness to sell its Civic Center property, the Chili Cook-Off site, to the city for $25 million. The Yamaguchi properties total 17 acres.

Mayor Sharon Barovsky and Councilmember Jeff Jennings said they believed the price Yamaguchi was offering was significantly too high, and Barovsky said negotiations with the property owner would be taking place.

“Like most negotiations, one party starts too high and the other party starts too low,” Barovsky said. “The truth is somewhere in the middle.”

Before the city purchases any property, an appraisal must be done of the site by a party of the property owner and the city’s choosing. By law, the city is not allowed to pay higher than the determined appraisal amount.

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The announcement of Yamaguchi’s willingness to sell its properties comes at a time when the city is looking for land to purchase through a partnership with Santa Monica College. A $135 million bond measure, Proposition S, will go before voters in November. If it passes, $25 million of that money will be used for SMC capital projects in Malibu. The college has proposed building a 25,000-square-foot educational facility in the city. It has also expressed an interest in building sports fields in the city, a quest the city of Malibu also has. Councilmember Ken Kearsley said earlier this month that the bond money could be spread around to buy more than one property, while money from the state and private donations could be used to fit the rest of the bill. This could allow for an educational facility to be built on one property, while sports fields would be constructed on the others.

With the city looking to buy properties for municipal and college purposes, as well as to prevent them from being commercially developed, new friendships have been created in Malibu. Ozzie Silna, a traditional opponent of the City Council, has been meeting with Barovsky and Mayor Pro Tem Andy Stern to discuss possible solutions. Silna has stated publicly that he supports Proposition S, and is working to raise funds through other means to purchase the Chili Cook-Off site. However, Silna said a great deal of issues must be sorted out. And Silna said those issues would be addressed at a meeting of the Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy, of which he is a member. The meeting was scheduled to take place on Wednesday after The Malibu Times went to press.

“We need to know what in fact can be done, what makes sense,” Silna said. “We need to know what money exists with the state. All these things must be taken into account before we can say what our opinion is.”

Fellow conservancy member Steve Uhring said it appears the usual opponents on land-use issues in Malibu are mostly in agreement this time. But he said there were still a couple of issues that needed to be solved. He said he didn’t want to get into what those items were until they had been discussed at the Wednesday meeting. Uhring said he is optimistic about the current situation.

“Three properties are up for sale [the Crummer property, located next to Bluff’s Park has been put on the market, although no formal letter was sent to the city],” Uhring said.” If you cut out all the B.S., it seems to me this is a unique opportunity where everybody should be on the same page to acquire as much money as we can get to buy all the properties.”

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

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