Commission votes to not implement any more memorial plaques

The Parks & Recreation commission voted March on 22 to not add any more memorial benches, rocks and plaques at Legacy Park. Photo Samantha Bravo/TMT.

During the rescheduled Parks and Rec meeting on March 22, Community Service Director Jesse Bobbett provided a staff report and reviewed the Parks Master Plan from the Jan. 19 meeting, which regards the use of library aside funds and the Heathercliff Property. 

The Parks and Rec meeting on March 15 was adjourned and rescheduled to March 22 due to a technical issue with the posting of the agenda.

The library set aside funds includes residential tax, funding previously used to add service hours, enhanced library collections, hiring additional library staff, and Library Speaker Series. The estimated set-aside funds at the end of the fiscal year 2022-2023 is $13.5 million. 

Bobbett said the set-aside funds do require City Council and LA County approval and include an analysis to make sure the funds are being utilized properly and reviewed by the City Council subcommittee. In 2018, the City Council authorized staff to work with the county on several new initiatives related to the set-aside funds, including the feasibility of expanding services to western Malibu.

“Work was postponed following the Woolsey Fire, but staff from the Administrative Department expect to resume this work in the coming months,” Bobbett said. 

From the Jan. 19 Parks and Rec meeting, Bobbett answered questions in regards to creating a community pool at Heathercliff Property. The location, which is 18.84 acres, could accommodate a community pool but geological studies would be required to further determine its eligibility. 

Bobbett said the property is zoned as a Commercial Neighborhood; however, there are some codes that are unclear when it comes to definitions of parks, beaches, and playgrounds. 

“Due to the lack of clarity, planning staff recommend requesting a Determination of Use from the Planning Commission once a specific project is determined,” the slideshow states. “If it is determined, the project is not consistent with the zoning designation, then the property would need to be rezoned.”

Board member Judy Villablanca asked Bobbett if they need a specific project to request rezoning or if there could be a recommendation to the City Council to start rezoning the property. 

“It makes sense to me to start on the process to get this property rezoned so that Malibu, when they’re ready, can do something with it for the purpose it was purchased for, which is a public recreation facility,” Villablanca said.

Member Suzanne Guldimann said there needs to be community discussion with the ongoing projects that have been proposed for that, which have been a potential tow yard, homeless housing, staff housing and a performing arts center.

“I feel really frustrated with Heathercliff especially because it was earmarked to be a park in the ’90s and it fell apart, and if this falls apart on us again, I am just not going to be very happy,” Guldimann said.

Community Library Manager, Melissa Stallings suggested the members on the board read the library needs assessment survey the library did in 2018. Stallings said it addresses community issues and needs and how the survey is supposed to work with the parks master plan. Board members said they would look into the community survey.

Bobbett said the Malibu Arts Commission has also been trying to create a Performing Arts Center in Malibu and updated on their progress in finding a location. 

“I think the commission needs to decide, this is what we want and then it becomes, where can that go and what’s the best location for that,” Bobbett said. “That’s my recommendation, having a very clear plan and recreation component together and we’d like the subcommittee to be on board with that to go to council.”

The commission also addressed park enhancement and the donation program. In 2018, council approved the park enhancement beautification program, which accepts private donations and memorial items such as benches, rocks and trees to be placed at city parks and recreation facilities. The commission voted to not add any more memorial benches and rocks at Legacy Park.

Bobbett said the park facilities are filled with memorial items. Malibu Bluffs Park has 20 out of 20 allowed installations, Las Flores Creek park has two out of four allowed installations, Trancas Canyon Park with two out of four allowed installations and none at Legacy Park.

“We get lots of requests each year and our recent request is we don’t have Charmlee Wilderness Park and it was controlled by MRCA at the time but the three things that we would recommend is adding two or revising the program to include to add Wilderness Charmlee,” Bobbett said. “Our recommendation is to only allow items in and around the nature center, we’re very wary of spoiling any untouched nature of the other parts of the park.”

Guldimann said she respects the meaning behind the memorial but the city was getting swamped with memorials and rocks and should limit the memorial requests.

“I think Legacy Park was part of the fundraising efforts, we don’t need to add any more benches there,” Guldimann said. “We don’t need a plaque on every bench that is at Charmlee. It just gets a little tacky. We talked about this before — it’s like a cemetery … It’s not doing anything for the city.”

Parks and Rec Chair Alicia Peak said she doesn’t see an issue with adding plaques to benches already installed in the park. 

“It doesn’t bother me personally,” Peak said. “If they’re paying for it, and if the benches are already there, then why can’t we just have someone put a plaque on it?”  

Vice-chair Dane Skophammer suggested they could offer anyone to purchase plaques to charge a reasonable price and make money.

Villablanca motioned to not add any memorial items at Charmlee Wilderness Park, leave Las Flores and Malibu Bluffs as is and not add any at Legacy Park. Guldimann second the motion and Peak objected. The motion passed 4-1.

Community Services Deputy Director Kristin Riesgo provided a staff update on the Charmlee Wilderness Park erosion mitigation and expects the completion to be next month in April. 

Riesgo said the Trancas Field Bean and Free Tobacco and trash removal project will be completed at the end of March. Riesgo said they removed trash and bulkier items like refrigerators and will be adding a ‘no dumping’ signage.

Riesgo said they are also struggling with getting recruitments and part-time staff so they have been attending career and job fairs at local universities.

“Sometimes we get a hundred people interested and zero applications, so it’s quite astonishing,” Riesgo said. “We’re attending all those career fairs in hopes of getting our summer staff rammed up and ready for summer camps.”

Riesgo said the working-age requirement is 18 to work without adult supervision; however, they do offer volunteer days with high school students who are at least 15.

Bobbett said they don’t have any specific requirements or experience but would work as a lifeguard or work at the parks and the centers as a recreation assistant. 

Peak asked for more information on financial aid and financial assistance for students who volunteer. 

The commission agendized the requirements for volunteers for the next meeting. 

The meetings ended with the excitement for the return of Chumash Day on Saturday, April 9. Riesgo said she will be sending out a formal invitation to the event. 

“It’s neat to have it live and in-person again this year, so I’m excited about it,” Guldimann said.