‘Sorry’: Council Backs Down From TDSF Ordinance

The area in red at the top-right corner of the map is where council proposes a temporary skate park can be created, on the northern edge of Malibu Bluffs Park.

“First of all, I’m completely opposed to this proposal moving forward. It is ill-conceived and ill-timed and should not have come before us now or as drafted—and I want to apologize to all of you for my part in what’s up here in front of us,” Council Member Mikke Pierson recited from a prepared statement on Monday evening. “I failed to see that what I’d hoped would be a community discussion on the subject of mansionization and community character would turn into this.”

Council on Monday broke its silence on the proposed municipal code amendment that would have reduced the allowable development square footage on residential lots across Malibu—just one week after the proposal was recommended by the planning commission.

“Sorry everybody’s blood pressure got up,” Council Member Rick Mullen later remarked. “This is a time our town should be healing [after the Woolsey Fire].”

While Pierson, Mullen and Skylar Peak were quick with “mea culpas” after another night of berating from angry residents—“This caused a lot of people a lot of agony, so I apologize,” Peak said—Mayor Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner held the line on the ordinance, saying it was what the people who voted for him wanted.

“I will be defending the people who brought all these issues forward to us and voted for myself and my slate I ran with, who said we needed to do something about the size of homes in small areas and in small neighborhoods,” Wagner said, later adding, “This evening, it appears four council members want to push this off and that’s fine, because I’ll stand alone dissenting.”

First proposed by Mayor Pro Tem Karen Farrer—previously, the sole dissenting vote on the plan to decrease TDSF—council members expressed interest in an incentive program to persuade home builders to keep houses small.

That suggestion made it into the final motion on the item, which removed the ordinance from the work plan for the fiscal year 2019-20: Council “directed staff to bring back at the mid-year budget review for Fiscal Year 2019-20 an item regarding potential incentives for safer, smaller, lower impact homes and other desirable building practices.”

Skate park plan moves forward, despite funding void

In a “year of belt tightening,” city council approved, unanimously, a move to construct a temporary skate park on land adjacent to Malibu Bluffs Park—as soon as this fall.

Seven years after the closing of Malibu’s previous skate park, Papa Jack’s, dozens of young skaters and their exhausted parents (tired out from hours of driving their kids to skate parks in Westlake Village, Santa Monica and Venice) congregated at City Hall to urge council to give the community back a skate park.

Their request was backed by “very enthusiastic and unanimous” support from the Malibu Parks and Recreation Commission, delivered by commission chair Judy Villablanca. 

“We are fully aware of the budget limitations for our current budget year; however, we feel there is a public need for this project which makes it a high priority,” Villablanca said. “I don’t think I need to state the obvious, that there’s tremendous public support for this project.”

In addition to potential support from a private donor many, including Villablanca, cited—Brian Strange, father of the late Malibu adventurer and extreme athlete Johnny Strange—council expressed confidence the money could be raised. 

“I am all for anything that will get a skate park off the ground as soon as possible,” Farrer said, mentioning she has already had residents offer contributions. “I will help raise the money. I will donate money—as long as it’s legal.”

Out of several potential options, a 1.74-acre property from the former Crummer site was selected for a potential temporary, and eventual long-term, skate park.

City Manager Reva Feldman offered the timeline of “three to four months” for a temporary site to open; a long-term solution could take years.