Coastal activist Sara Wan to be honored with the 2023 Jake Kuredjian Citizenship Award


To start off the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on Thursday, Feb. 23, commissioners reviewed the Community Services Department monthly report, received an update on the earth-friendly management policy, and voted to honor the late coastal activist Sara Wan with the 2023 Jake Kuredjian Citizenship Award. 

The Jake Kuredjian Citizenship Award is presented annually to recognize those outstanding individuals or groups who give their time and resources to enhance the quality of recreation programs within the Malibu community. Past recipients of this award have demonstrated a commitment and involvement in addressing some aspect of recreation in Malibu, and in doing so demonstrated the highest level of citizenship, making a lasting contribution to the community.

Wan served on the board of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) from 1996 to 2011 and acted as the chair of the commission twice. She was a member of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and co-founded the Western Alliance for Nature, a land conservancy.

She combatted large developmental projects on the beaches of Malibu as well as fought for the rights to keep public access to beaches. She was an expert in habitat and wetland issues, marine mammal issues, water quality and coastal land use and planning. 

The Sara Wan trailhead at Corral Canyon (next to Malibu Seafood) was also dedicated to Wan by the SMMC in 2009. Wan was a Malibu resident since 1986 and was a proponent for the incorporation of Malibu as a city. 

Wan passed away last year on Sept. 3, at the age of 83.

“Sara was a really remarkable person, she left this place better than it was when she arrived and she fought tirelessly till her last day on earth,” Commissioner Suzanne Guldimann said. “She’s just a really an exceptional human being and we were really luck to have had her in this community.” 

Guldimann said her husband Larry would be very much touched to have her honored and commemorated this way. 

The commission voted to honor Wan with the 2023 Jake Kuredjian Citizenship Award. 

For public comment, Malibu resident and retired professional soccer player Rodney Wallace is involved with the AYSO team in Malibu and asked the commission how they can open a sports facility in Malibu.

“I won [an] MLS [championship in] Portland and went to the World Cup in Costa Rica, so I know what community means and I know what it means to win as a group, and I think that we have a special chance here to also win within sports, within the community and recreation and I think the kids need a place to get together, find structure and play,” Wallace said. “I’m just really grateful to be a part of this, but if we we’re able to find space for our kids and get others to be able to participate in physical activity, it would definitely bring more people out and together.” 

Commissioner Alicia Peak asked what they can do to find a location to create a facility. 

“What is it that we have available and is there possible places where we can get more,” Peak said.

Acting Community Service Director Kristen Riesgo told their commissioners to reach out to their council members. 

“Let them know this is important to you, we ultimately need council’s direction to move forward on any new facilities,” Riesgo said, “It’s kind of in council’s hand to tell us how to move forward, if they want to move forward, and that’s how we’ll get these items moving.” 

Recreation Supervisor Chris Orosz presented the earth-friendly management policy, the department’s accomplishments and quarterly report.

For accomplishments, the department was able to install two new owl boxes at Charmlee Wilderness Park and reviewed 2023 goals. The department also installed 138 native plants at Legacy Park in February. 

Recreation Manager Kate Gallo presented the department’s updates and said the Spring Recreation Guide has been distributed to Malibu residents as well as the city newsletter. 

Gallo said this is the second guide to feature photos from Malibu High School students.

For in-progress, ongoing and future agenda items, Riesgo provided an update on the permanent skatepark and said they hope to bring the plans to the planning commission by the summer. 

“We’re working the best we can with what we have and working with our consultant who’s been open to helping us in any way possible to expedite it,” Riesgo said. 

Riesgo said they hope to get the emergency call boxes within the coming weeks as well as turf improvements at Malibu Bluffs Park. 

The next Parks and Rec meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 21.