Council expresses concern over Parks and Rec endorsement of Bay Company deal


City manager says it isn’t so. Resident expresses concern about sidewalks in Point Dume.

By Jonathan Friedman/Special to The Malibu Times

A Malibu Bay Company newspaper advertisement has sparked the attention of the City Council. Councilmember Andy Stern expressed concern at Monday’s meeting about a statement the Malibu Parks and Recreation Commission had made endorsing the development agreement. He and other councilmembers asked if that were true, and if so, how the commission could do that before the project had been fully analyzed.

“I cannot understand how anyone can endorse something before an EIR (environmental impact report) is complete,” said Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Barovsky, asking sarcastically, “What if they find out there is pollution that will kill all the kids on the baseball fields?”

City Manager Katie Lichtig said it was her understanding that the commission had asked the City Council to move forward with the agreement because its members believed it was consistent with the city’s parks and recreation master plan. But when asked by Barovsky to define “move forward,” Lichtig said it would be difficult since she did not attend the meeting. She added that the audio recording of the session had a malfunction at the exact point at which the topic was discussed, preventing her from hearing it.

According to the minutes of the Feb. 20 meeting, the commission passed a motion to “support the Bay Company development agreement and to urge the City Council and the Planning Commission to go forward with the agreement.”

The councilmembers asked that an item be put on the commission’s May 15 agenda to discuss the motion. Barovsky and Councilmember Joan House plan to attend the meeting. Stern said if it is determined the commission’s motion was not an actual endorsement, the council should send a letter to the MBC regarding the manner.

No sidewalks in my backyard

Also at the meeting, Point Dume Community Association co-chairman John Mazza complained to the council about the Public Works Commission’s approval last week of a city application for a Safe Routes to Schools Grant. He claimed the grant would allow for sidewalks to be built in Point Dume, something that Zumirez Drive residents had said they feared in March when they asked for their street to be privatized.

“You (the council) said at that meeting, ‘What sidewalks? Who told you there were going to be sidewalks?’ ” Mazza said. “And now there are going to be 3 miles of sidewalks on Zumirez Drive.”

Prior to Monday’s meeting, Melanie Irwin of the Public Works Department said the grant would not bring sidewalks to the area, but rather decomposed granite pathways for children to use on their way to Point Dume Elementary School. At the meeting, Lichtig said Mazza’s 3-mile figure was also incorrect. She said the only purpose of the grant would be to provide a trail to the school, similar to the one on Morning View Drive, which allows students a path to Malibu High School.

Odds and ends decided

City Attorney Christi Hogin announced the council had decided during closed session for Hogin’s office to file an advocacy brief in favor of the Marine Forest Society’s case against the California Coastal Commission. The society is challenging the constitutionality of the commission. The case is pending in California Supreme Court.

Hogin also said the city had finally reached an agreement with entertainer Cher on a long-standing legal dispute over her property. As part of the agreement, she has agreed to donate $125,000 to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) toward its music programs. Music at SMMUSD has been substantially affected by the district’s recent budget cuts, including the elimination of the entire elementary music program. Cher is allowed to keep the walls surrounding her compound at 12 feet in height under the city’s “grandfather” clause.