Land purchase committee has final words

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The PCH/Heathercliff Property Use Blue Ribbon Committee members at their final meeting Monday night made comments on suggested uses for a piece of property the city is considering purchasing. The committee members agreed a combination of features housed on the property would best meet the needs of Malibu residents. Their comments and suggestions will be passed on to the City Council.

Monday’s session was the third meeting of the committee formed by the City Council to consider possible uses for the 9.8-acre mostly vacant property on the north side of Pacific Coast Highway off Heathercliff Road. At the second meeting on Sept. 4, committee members discussed suggestions received from the public, in addition to their personal suggestions. These were put together in a spreadsheet and rated low, medium or high on a variety of factors, including noise, traffic, water, septic, lights and environment.

The suggested uses included open space, dog park, demonstration/community garden, neighborhood park, athletic facilities, skate park, Sheriff’s substation, teen center, senior center, community room, library, City Hall and senior housing.

Committee Chair John Mazza stressed at Monday’s meeting that the suggested uses had not been prioritized. That the uses were ranked from highest priority to lowest was incorrectly stated in last week’s issue of The Malibu Times.

“We were assigned to take community input to discuss possible uses for that land and take comments from the public and [from each other],” Mazza said. “The order we placed the items in has nothing to do with the recommendations,” Mazza said.

The committee chair added, “These are suggestions and by no means our personal suggestions. This is the very beginning of the process.”

Committee members reviewed the suggestions from the previous meeting and allowed the opportunity for new comments on Monday night. There were few.

Committee member Daniel Stern, who was absent from the first two meetings, offered his affirmations for the development of a teen center, which he said should be an “absolute priority” for the community.

Stern is the president of The Malibu Foundation for Youth and Families, which operates the Malibu Boys & Girls Club. Stern said the club, located behind Malibu High School, has been successful in drawing middle school students, but there is a strong need for an additional center for high school students, who turn to excessive partying and wanton behavior because of a lack of things to do. Stern suggested combining features such as ball fields and a skate park with a teen center as incentives for more teens to use the facilities.

Kathy Wisnicki, who is Malibu’s lone member on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, said she agreed with Stern. She was also absent from the first two meetings.

“It would not only benefit the teens themselves, but the community at large,” said Wisnicki, who referenced unsupervised high school parties on Dume Drive as a safety risk for area teens.

Marianne Riggins, the only noncommittee member who attended the meeting, said she would like to see the development of a community recreational facility similar to the community center in Calabasas. She said it could include basketball courts, exercise facilities and meeting rooms as well as offer classes for senior citizens and parents.

“With all the creative talent we have in this community, we can build something that would take in all the community concerns and develop something the community can use as a whole,” Riggins said.

She also suggested using environmentally friendly construction.

“It would also be a great opportunity for the city to address green building in the future and a way to encourage this for future development,” Riggins added.

At earlier meetings, committee member Carol Randall had been adamant that residents of the east end of Malibu were strongly opposed to moving City Hall to the west end of town. Randall did not attend Monday’s meeting, but Charlene Kabrin voiced Randall’s opinions and agreed. Jo Ruggles and Al Giuliani both said that residents they spoke to were opposed to a west end city hall.

Wisnicki said that while there were definite traffic concerns in the area, a lack of transportation for city children and seniors also brought up new issues. Lester Tobias suggested the possibility of developing an east to west local transit system that would encourage residents to use whatever the city decided with the property, provided it was purchased.

“This city is shipwrecked,” said committee member Dusty Peak. “You don’t swim up to an island and say, ‘oh that’s too far away, not for me’ and swim away. Nothing is going to be perfect. We need this piece of property. What its use becomes is secondary.”