State Parks Funding: Better Late Than Never

Lift Damage on Malibu Pier

When California Governor Jerry Brown signed the 2016 state budget July 1, he allocated $20 million toward deferred maintenance to California State Parks and Recreation Department, including $7.58 million for maintenance of the Malibu Pier, Historic Malibu Adamson House and beach access stairway at Point Dume.

According to State Parks Angeles District Superintendent Craig Sap, the money is likely to be freed up by August or September, meaning the projects are likely to begin in the fall.

“As far as I know, [the funds are] coming our way, barring any last-minute issues — some crisis in the state government, some catastrophe where that money needs to be redirected,”  Sap described. “But this money is intended for the fiscal year that we’re in, which started July 1.

“These projects really were supposed to go in last year… these are really for all intents and purposes almost shovel-ready,” Sap told The Malibu Times. “The Angeles District is moving forward as if we’re getting the money.”

Many of these projects have been backlogged for years.

“These funds will start to address the backlog of deferred maintenance and help departments reduce the need to build costlier new infrastructure,” the state budget reads.

Over the next three weeks, The Malibu Times will describe each of these projects, beginning with the repairs scheduled to be made to the 80-year-old Malibu Pier.

Missing the boat on Malibu Fleet Week

Malibu Pier, though open and operating normally, lost nine pilings during high wave action following Hurricane Maria in August 2014. In addition to the pilings, the access stairway at the far end of the pier was heavily damaged and is no longer in service, meaning vessels cannot dock at the pier.

In early July, the U.S. Navy Third Fleet, located out of San Diego, reached out to contacts in the City of Malibu, expressing interest in docking a vessel at the Malibu Pier and sending sailors into Malibu on a goodwill visit.

“For the host cities, they have the sailors get off the ship and they’re able to go out and participate in going to the restaurants,” said Lieutenant Julianne Holland, spokesperson for the Third Fleet. “Sometimes, we’re able to get some of the sailors to go to local activities. They go to places they wouldn’t normally be able to travel.”

Command Senior Chief Jeremy “Jay” Embree told The Malibu Times the Navy is interested in having ships dock at the pier and spend time in Malibu, but it is impossible now.

“I was in Malibu Friday [July 17] to take a look at the damage to the pier/accommodation ladder.  At this time it is out of service to everyone,” Embree wrote in an email. 

According to estimates by pier concessionaire Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner, the repair to the staircase that would facilitate the visit would cost about $40,000, but would need to be completed by August, a seemingly impossible feat.

“All the letters have been sent, all the contacts have been made. If we could provide them a lift with stairs, we could accommodate their trip to Malibu,” Wagner said.

“I don’t think there’s anything we’re going to be able to do,” said Mayor John Sibert, himself a military veteran who served in the Marines, who had hoped the city might provide a short-term loan for the repair. “We can’t spend $40,000 without a council meeting. As much as I’d like to help, I think we’re going to have to find some people in the private sector to front the money.”

According to Holland, though, the time has passed for this visit. 

“They’re now shifting that from Malibu to Santa Barbara,” Holland said. “It was decided on Monday.”

Malibu remains on the list of possible future ports.

“Malibu is on the list; that’s one of the ones that we put as a request for next year,” Holland said.

Safety concerns on the pier

In addition to the economic boost of having the naval vessel in Malibu, repairs to the pier are also a high concern when it comes to safety, according to Wagner.

“Right now, the stairwell is the big concern. The stairwell … allows access to the L.A. County Lifeguards and for emergency services use,” Wagner said. “For instance, if somebody is injured offshore [or] if there’s a drowning victim that needs to be airlifted.”

Sap agreed that the pier has been a high priority since last year’s storm.

“The Malibu Pier got hit pretty hard, so there was additional damage that necessitated additional funds,” Sap said.

The budget is set to allocate over $4.6 million for the pier.

“Currently, we’re not allowed to have vehicles on the Malibu Pier, so the ambulance can’t go down there. The fire trucks can’t go to the end of the pier. So this money needs to be done as soon as possible,” Wagner said.