The intensity of land use


    This letter was sent to Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl.

    Thank you for your letter of Jan. 27, 2000. We are very pleased you share our concerns regarding the appropriate use of the former Streisand Center for Conservancy Studies, which has been recently renamed “Ramirez Park.” In response to you letter, we certainly want to be a part of any process that would facilitate a resolution of this matter and we look forward to hearing from the Attorney General’s office. At the same time, we believe that the state and its commitment for resources may also have to play a part in this discussion.

    Consider this an appeal to the state to financially support the conservancy’s proposed pilot programs at Ramirez Park. If the state believes that the park purposes intended for Ramirez Park together with the conservancy’s office use, will serve a public benefit, it should support the conservancy by providing the necessary funds to maintain the property. If the state does not believe Ramirez Park, has a worthwhile mission, then the state should direct the conservancy to abandon the Ramirez Park project, thus avoiding protracted litigation, damage to the environment and negative publicity.

    The dispute with the conservancy, as you know, has always been, in essence, about the intensity of land use. While certain park, educational and limited office uses could be managed in a manner compatible with the residential uses in Ramirez Canyon, the use of Ramirez Park for large commercial events is simply not compatible with residential use.

    As we understand it, the conservancy would prefer not to have to earn revenues by renting the property for weddings and other events in order to maintain the Ramirez Park property. The conservancy would prefer to focus its attention on small scale programs that may ultimately provide a fine public benefit. Property monitored, we think the conservancy should be given the opportunity to make Ramirez Park a special place for the handicapped the elderly and others, in a manner consistent with this sensitive environment and surrounding residential uses.

    There is no way, realistically, for the conservancy to continue its commercial uses without disrupting and endangering both the residents and the environment of this canyon. However, without state support, the conservancy will be forced to continue to exploit the property for weddings and large conference and fund-raising uses. The private rights owned by Ramirez Canyon homeowners will, therefore, continue to be overburdened, and the homeowners will be forced to seek inverse condemnation damages from the state, at an extraordinary expense to all.

    On the other hand, there are many good, low-intensity uses that could be made of Ramirez Park. One idea was submitted by the Friends of Caballero Canyon, which envisions that the property could be accessed by backpackers and equestrians from the Backbone Trail and used, in part, as a hostel. Perhaps, with state financial support, Ramirez Park could provide a scholar in residence program as originally intended.

    There are many possibilities and many potential benefits. Consider this: If the conservancy did not use Ramirez Park as a catering facility, it would no longer violate the city of Malibu’s zoning scheme and could relieve both the state and the city from the time and expense involved in a legal dispute. Likewise, if the conservancy did not have to overburden Ramirez Canyon Road, the state would not have to incur the cost of a prolonged struggle with the residents and the risk of a large inverse condemnation award.

    We ask that you be a part of the dialogue and the state be a part of the solution. We thank you for your continued interest and concern and hope that you will be participant in the resolution of this matter.

    Ramirez Canyon Preservation Trust