Guarding the city

I have been a “watcher” for several years, now I feel that I must voice my innate fear. Through all of the early years, the L.A. County years, I wholeheartedly supported cityhood. Now I fear that those who govern our city are blind to the bursting needs of their own community, neighbors and friends! The families, especially the children of our very unique community, have a right to exercise, learn, meet, play and grow. Through all of these years, the City Council has seemingly ignored these rights and needs. I am particularly amazed at the attitude that the city has taken with the state regarding Bluffs Park. Whatever happened to gratitude and a thank you for lending us a beautiful place to play for all these years? The fact that the city has ignored the pursuit of permanent ball fields and meeting places frustrates me. Maybe our council members are still living in that Malibu of years gone by. The Malibu where we rode horses and dirt bikes to our friends, or walked the trails. In many ways, I hate to admit that that Malibu no longer exists, but the increase in homes and condominiums has eliminated that past. Somehow the “Slow/No Growth” attitude of our council has not stopped Malibu from bursting at the seams. Malibu is a new Malibu, with many, many families and tons of children!!

I am a 30-year resident of Point Dume, small business owner, Zuma Beach Lifeguard and a nature lover who supports a comprehensive and long-range approach to solving these serious shortcomings in Malibu’s community service. I joined PARCS, People Achieving Recreation and Community Service, because of my personal experience as the owner of Children’s Creative Workshop, a preschool operating since 1982 at the Malibu Community Center. PARCS is a coalition of program providers who have either experienced the loss of space for programs, have no room for expansion or who are threatened with the loss of fields to play. We are not just newly arrived Malibu families demanding to have services at the expense of good planning. Most of us have been here forever and have been giving our time to this beautiful community, as did our parents before us.

I serve hundreds of families who need childcare services. I need a permanent location to provide that care, as do other Malibu childcare givers. The nearly seven acres at the Point Dume Mesa owned by the Malibu Bay Company should be closely examined as a location for a new community center. The Point Dume Community Services District who operates the Malibu Community Center has a long history of protecting the integrity of the neighborhood it serves, a tradition it would continue at any location.

Within the past 17 years that the Malibu Community Center has been in existence, its successes have shown the very essence of cooperation, proving that with proper management many great things can happen. Adults went to exercise and karate while their children went to ballet and fencing. People went to Alcoholics Anonymous and other self-help meetings. They all went to the wonderful branch library before it was closed. Do you remember that beautiful library? We need to recreate that magical space where everyone learns and everyone has opportunities to improve their lives.

A City Council Ad Hoc committee is now talking about a comprehensive approach to meeting our community’s needs. I am confident that all health, safety and environmental impacts will be examined before any final decisions are made. I swim in our ocean and intend to continue doing so. My beach friends and I will be monitoring any development agreements to make certain there is a net beneficial gain to the health of Malibu Creek and Lagoon.

As our City Manager said of the council’s development agreement discussions, “I haven’t worked in a city that has such a combination of need and opportunity. The worst thing that can happen is that you can’t come to an agreement.” Through my fear — I will think positive — I hope we can reach that agreement.

Shari Latta

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

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