Residents asked, ‘How about a walk in the park?’


Four hundred registered voters in Malibu received a phone call recently asking questions about recreational issues. The 15-minute survey is being conducted by Godbe Communications of Los Angeles. The Malibu City Council commissioned it to find out how residents feel about parks, wetlands and community services.

Unlike the survey nearly a year ago, which dealt with a bond issue for roads and public improvements, this one focuses entirely on parks and recreational issues. The questions deal with evaluating need and funding potential solutions.

“Assessing the need, I think, is a part of it, but it’s not the major part.,” said City Manager Harry Peacock. “I wouldn’t say everyone thinks there is a need, but certainly we haven’t had a lot of people come up and tell the City Council that we don’t need a lot of open space or we don’t need community facilities. For those people who think there is a need, it’s more of a pocketbook issue. Just how much money would people be willing to spend in this community to solve this problem?”

“We hope to get a snapshot of what the community feels about acquiring more lands for recreational facilities, for a teen center, for seniors,” said Councilman Harry Barovsky. “And how they want to go about it.”

Barovsky said if the survey shows support, the council will likely move forward with a bond issue. “If we don’t see support, we will just have to think about how we go about acquiring the necessary facilities for the community,” he added.

One group interested in the outcome is People Achieving Recreation and Community Services. “Our group, PARCS, is interested in facts, and this is definitely fact finding,” said PARCS president Kristin Reynolds. “The results will be very interesting.”

PARCS was formed when the City Council voted to disband the informal study group that had been investigating parks and recreational needs in Malibu and form a five-member commission appointed by the City Council.

“I think we were a little taken by surprise,” said Reynolds. “Some of us are really not interested in a political appointment. We began to wonder who would be chosen and who would be left behind.”

Reynolds said there were rumblings of forming the organization before the Council disbanded the group. “There were already the beginnings of it and, when it was voted upon to form the commission, we agreed it was the way it had to go. We recognized there was still a pressing need for recreational groups to voice their opinion,” said Reynolds. “With the study group, we wanted to bring together senior citizens, little league, AYSO, all the groups so they could have their own voice. We don’t know if the commission will achieve that.”

Reynolds said her group was pleased to see the appointment of a PARCS member. Dermot Stoker was appointed by Tom Hasse to sit on the commission which will begin meeting in January. Other members of the commission are Sam Kaplan, appointed by Carolyn Van Horn, and Ted Vail, by Walt Keller. “Our goal is to find permanent recreational space for community centers, for ball fields, for active and passive recreation in the city of Malibu for all ages,” said Reynolds. “We hope to work with the commission to work toward some permanent facilities.”

While Reynolds agrees with the council that the survey is a good first step, she said it may have some flaws. “I think it must be very confusing to the Malibu citizen that isn’t paying attention to recreation and politics in Malibu. My husband was called on Saturday night and it’s very confusing. It’s very confusing to be asked questions that start at point A and lead to point B. It’s different when you read a survey and when you hear it over the phone. It’s a whole different animal.”

Resident Doug O’Brien said he was surveyed twice. “They got me twice and they got the same answers both times. It seems odd to be, but I don’t think they cross-checked. “

Even so, Reynolds said the survey is crucial. “I think this is exploratory at this point and the results will show us where the next path is. I think it’s an absolutely necessary thing to go through.”

Peacock said the results of the survey should be available early next month.