City, state still playing games over play areas

The state’s recent decision to pull its coastal permit and stop cooperating with the city on the renovation of Bluffs Park had the immediate impact of stopping the development of the toddler park on the bluffs.

Laureen Sills, head of development of the proposed toddler park planned for the bluffs, is appalled. “I’m really disappointed. The State Parks people approved our plan, and it met with the regional needs specified by the State Parks as well as the community’s needs.” As for the proposed toddler park, Sills, a PARCS (People Achieving Recreation and Community Service) board member said, “Who wouldn’t want to put their kid on a swing while they’re looking at the ocean. The only requirement the state gave us was that the toddler park equipment had to be removable. We met that requirement.”

The state’s decision not to play ball with additional city renovations planned for the park has been focuse#d primarily over the issue of relocating the baseball field. The state claims baseball diamonds are not consistent with the whole point of the bluffs parks, which is to provide a viewshed of the scenic area, and they were allowing the ball fields only as a temporary use.

The city had previously agreed to relocate the baseball field eventually; however, a new site has not yet been found. The state apparently went along with renovations, such as resurfacing the turf for Little League, upgrading the septic system, giving a facelift to the Michael Landon Center and building a toddler park, until recently, when the city instructed its newly hired Sacramento lobbyist to begin exploring the possibility of the city acquiring the Bluffs Park. That decision apparently stepped over the line as far as the state was concerned and they advised the city and withdrew their permit application. The toddler park was caught in the middle, and Sills said, “I think that the City Council should meet with the State Parks and mend their fences on behalf of all the children of Malibu.”

Sills has been developing the toddler park since the early ’90s. Funds were secured three summers ago with sale of a cassette of Malibu kids singing Beach Boys songs. “As of Christmas, I was informed by State Parks officials that the toddler park had passed their approval and a Coastal Commission permit had been admitted,” Sills said. “I was expecting that the Coastal Commission would meet this month and we’d be under construction by spring.”

“I’m urging the City Council to pay attention to the demographics of the city. The school population has doubled and our children need their support.” Sills is asking the city to resolve its difference with State Parks and resubmit the permit for the toddler park. She said she will not take “No” for an answer.

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

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