Foundation petitions to reject Perenchio’s golf course

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The Malibu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation says it has collected about 800 hard-copy signatures and 648 online signatures as of Tuesday morning for a petition that recommends

the California Coastal Commission reject Malibu Bay Company (MBC) President Jerry Perenchio’s request for an after-the-fact permit for a private golf course on

his Malibu Colony property. According to the chapter’s Web site, the signatures have come from as far away as Israel and several European countries. The hard-copy petition was sent to all the coastal commissioners and commission staff earlier this month. The chapter says it will present the full petition when the permit goes before the commission at the Nov. 5-7 meeting in Los Angeles.

The chapter says dangerous pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and other pollutants released from the golf course have harmed the quality of water in both Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach.

“The health ramifications are just daunting,” Chairman Alan Reed said. “It is one of the many huge pollution issues in the Malibu coastal watershed that we need to stop.”

Steve Sugerman, a spokesperson for Perenchio on this issue, disputes the chapter’s claim. In a press release issued Tuesday, he wrote that less than a gram per square foot of chemical fertilizers is applied each year to the property. He added that water quality engineers have examined the property and found no evidence of it having any connection with the lagoon’s current state.

” Its (the lagoon’s) diminished water quality is the result of urbanization of the upper watershed, wastewater discharges from septic systems located along many miles of the Malibu Creek and ocean and numerous other causes,” he wrote.

In its petition, the chapter requests that the commission reject the permit application, require Perenchio to transform the property to a private garden park and make him install a runoff collection system that would eliminate any pollutants from entering Malibu’s waters.

In 1982, Perenchio received a Coastal Commission permit for an 8-foot high rock wall, a jogging track, three ponds, irrigation and lighting system, a dish radio receiver and three gazebos behind one of his Malibu Colony homes. However, he built the one-green, 10-acre private golf course instead. Although many Malibuites knew about this for many years, it was not brought to the attention of the commission until some environmentalists recently found out about it.

Sugerman said in a telephone interview Tuesday that it is inaccurate to call the property a golf course. Therefore, he said, Perenchio did nothing to violate the 1982 commission decision.

“This is a 10-acre park with one golf green,” he said. “Most people when they think ‘golf course,’ they think ‘many holes of golf, fairways and the like.’ And that’s not what this is.”

Perenchio was forced to go to the commission to get a permit in July. Although Coastal Commission staff had recommended the application be approved with some modifications, Executive Director Peter Douglas overrode the decision and recommended the item be continued. The commission’s legislative coordinator, Sarah Christie, told The Malibu Times in July that the reason for the continuance is so commission staff could get all the information it needs in anticipation for what she said was an inevitable lawsuit regardless of the its decision.

Lea Shipman, the chapter’s director, said the reason for bringing the petition online is so it could get people who do not necessarily live in the Malibu area to voice their opinion.

“Over 1.2 million visitors come from all over the world to Surfrider Beach … those people also swim and recreate at Malibu Surfrider Beach,” she said. “So it’s not just a local issue or a state issue.”

The golf course property and what, if any, relationship it has with the MBC Development Agreement is on the agenda for Monday’s City Council meeting as an informational item.