Public Forum: Swap plan taking wrong turn

Is the City of Malibu telling residents the truth regarding Bluffs Park?

First City of Malibu claim: Uses for Bluffs Park are “unlimited.”

City Manager Jim Thorsen, regarding plans for Bluffs: “It’s really unlimited, you might decide that you don’t want any of these [existing] fields. You could expand Landon Center, build a senior center, teen center, performing arts center.”

Facts: Bluffs Park is zoned “Public Open Space.” Malibu’s Local Coastal Program (LCP), Table B states prohibited use includes: Cultural and artistic uses such as museums, galleries, performing arts venues. Citizen conclusion: untrue city claim. Extensive uses are prohibited at Bluffs, including: no senior center, no teen center, no performing arts center can be built.

Second city claim: No brushfires have ever started from campgrounds. Council-member Laura Rosenthal: “There has never been a fire started in an official campground.”

Facts: Many California wildfires originate from legal campgrounds. Including illegal fires that start in legal campgrounds and spread into devastating wildfires.


Conclusion: Untrue city claim. California Fire Department statistics state countless wildfires originating from official campgrounds.

Third city claim: Developing Bluffs for sports fields is not appealable to California Coastal Commission. Manager Thorsen: “Just to address that planning issue and what could be built. That parcel would require a permit from the city. It’s not in an area that would be appealable to the CCC. Therefore, anything that would be developed on that piece, would be solely up to the City, the planning department and the City Council.”

Facts: California Coastal Commission staff state that “recreational” uses proposed by city, such as baseball fields, would trigger appealability within Malibu’s Local Coastal Program. This is law.

Conclusion: Untrue City claim. Planned sports amenities on areas of Bluffs ARE appealable to the CCC.

Fourth city claim: 30-35 acres of Bluffs is usable for sports facilities. City states that the land for proposed sports complex is primarily non-ESHA, not protected. Thorsen: “(maps) not a final design, but to give everyone the perspective for the size of a baseball field, the size of a soccer field, what would be required for a skate park, a tennis court or something of that nature, if in fact the swap went through. This is a diagram of what could happen in the non-ESHA area.”

Fact: City Attorney letter to SMMC, Aug. 19, 2010: “Although the FEIR describes much of the impacted portion of Bluffs site as ‘grass and herbdominated vegetation,’ it is still largely mapped as ESHA on the city’s certified Local Coastal Program ESHA map and still has the potential to provide valuable habitat for Species of Special Concern.”

Conclusion: Untrue city claim. Malibu’s attorney: “Nearly the entire Bluffs site is mapped as ESHA on the certified Local Coastal Program ESHA map.” States “appears to be detections of addition special-status wildlife species” that would be protected. Not a forgone conclusion that this area can ever be developed.

Fifth city claim: Council meeting with Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy “nothing concrete” discussed regarding Charmlee swap. City Attorney: “There is no deal, there have been no agreements.” Council-member Joan House: “There are no details, as far as the city goes. There is nothing written down. There is nothing that we’ve promised. There’s no backroom deal.”

Facts: In-house Edmiston email, SMMC (Dec. 21, 2012) on swap meeting: “Last week I met with Malibu Mayor Lou La Monte and Mayor pro Tem Joan House, at their request. By the end of the meeting we had the framework for a comprehensive solution to many of the issues between Malibu and the SMMC. Yesterday [Thursday] our full legal team (AG plus our two outside counsel firms and MRCA staff counsel) and that of the (Malibu) city plus the (Malibu) city manager, met for two and a half hours to hammer out the (swap) details. I am happy to report that this meeting was successful.”

Conclusion: Contradicted claim! Clearly, SMMC has a radically different conclusion. We’re so positive of Malibu’s commitment to this swap that SMMC’s and Malibu’s legal teams met, including Attorney General’s office. Approval of the swap went on SMMC agenda a week before Malibu council meeting where proposed swap first appeared.

There are far too many discrepancies from this city to move forward with any swap.

Malibu residents, it’s time to demand truth from our City Hall.

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

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