Little League, AYSO members express their concerns with insufficient field space at Malibu Bluffs Park

City Council met on October 9. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

City Council addresses Ann M. Ravel’s letter over alleged Planning Commission conflicts of interest

Malibu Little League and Malibu AYSO representatives attended the City Council meeting on Monday night to express concerns about field space at Malibu Bluffs Park between organizations that occupy the field.

MLL Vice President Jake Lingo attended the meeting to speak on behalf of the league to express his concerns with field space at the park. 

“The city has limited space at Bluffs Park, we all know this, and it has be a primary gathering place for Malibu Little League and AYSO for decades. We work together along with the city to make sure that the fields are cared for, utilizing in the matter to which they are contracted and that they are shared accordingly,” Lingo said. “There are times that other groups use the fields and we always try to make accommodations to enjoy Bluffs Park, but we should not be expected to do so at the detriment of our leagues.”

Lingo asked the city to continue to honor community-based sports leagues at Malibu Bluffs Park.

“We will continue to work with MLS Go or any other organization to share space when possible but should not have to sacrifice precious field space anytime any organization decides to come to town,” Lingo said. 

Lingo said they will be meeting with Recreation Supervisor Chris Orosz to discuss the situation and figure out how to help organizations such as MLS Go.

MLS GO, powered by VIEWS FC, is a Major League Soccer recreational youth soccer program in Malibu that also occupies Malibu Bluffs Park. 

“Malibu Little League has been working with the City of Malibu for decades before it was even a city and we appreciate the opportunity to continue our programs at Bluff Parks,” Lingo said. “We love working with the city, we think it’s one of the most beautiful facilities there is to hold youth athletics, so we want to continue those relationships and continue to work the city to make these programs and make the park as special as possible.” 

Malibu AYSO representatives and MLL Vice President and Malibu Dodgers coach John Alfano attended the meeting and echoed Lingo’s comments on receiving support from the City of Malibu.

City Council October 9
Malibu AYSO representatives and MLL Vice President and Malibu Dodgers coach John Alfano attended the meeting and echoed Lingo’s comments on receiving support from the City of Malibu. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

Malibu Parks and Recreation Commissioner Alicia Peak expressed her support for the Malibu Little League and AYSO during public comment.

“My hope is that these organizations can talk to each other in a calm and kind matter,” Peak said. “We live in a small town and kindness goes a long way and reaching across the aisle is so important and I think we owe it to our children and the youth organizations to set that example.”

Peak also hopes to see a solution between local swim programs the Malibu Seawolves and the Malibu Marlins.

“This really highlights [that] we need a pool, we need more field space, there’s a big facility use space in this town,” Peak said. “I really hope we can all approach each other with kindness and try to reach across the aisle because I do believe that we are all here to support this community.” 

For presentions, the council received an update regarding the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) separation. 

“The district and the city are currently still working together in an effort to accomplish separation by now 2026,” Deputy City Attorney Christine Wood said. “I encourage everyone to be patient, it doesn’t mean we should run out and buy a new letterhead, but it does mean that there has been a lot of progress made, and probably for the first time, the parties are very much committed to separation, we hear it from both sides, there’s an optimism that’s going to happen and we’re working really hard to make it happen and allow the process to work.”

Environmental Sustainability Director Yolanda Bundy provided an update on the Environmental Health Program. 

The city will be having an in-person inspector training for all practitioners on Oct. 30. The presenter will be the National Association of Watershed Technicians and the training will be held at City Hall.

During City Manager Steve McClary’s report, he provided an update on upcoming events, and provided an update on the Special Event Permit that was issued by the city on Sept. 22 for a purported backyard celebration.

McClary said the permit was properly issued and in conformance with city code and policy. 

“City staff contacted the event planner and directed them to complete the permit application, to which they did the day before the event, and then it was issued,” McClary said. “We did not find any favoritism or deals were given to the applicant. The applicant followed the same process as any other applicant would do to receive a permit.”

Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriffs Sgt. Chris Soderlund provided a report on the crime and traffic for September. 

Soderlund said the Malibu Triathlon went well with no major issues or problems.

Soderlund provided an update on the body that was found at Malibu Lagoon and said the homicide bureau has made significant progress in solving that case.

Soderlund also said there’s been an increase in vehicle burglaries. 

“I just want to remind people to hide your valuables, take them with you, don’t leave your key fob on the top of your tire if you’re going to go surfing, they watch from a distance and see you do it, and are able to get near your car,” Soderlund said. 

Soderlund said there was a fatality on Malibu Canyon on Sunday night and said speeding was the primary factor.

“The driver was driving at a high rate [of] speed, lost control, hit a power pole, went over to the side and was inject and was killed,” Soderlund said. “Speed was the primary factor of this, so I just want to remind everyone to slow down; the speed limits are there for a reason; please obey them.”

The council will address the Zero Bail policy in the next meeting. 

The council addressed the assertions in an Aug. 16 letter sent to City Manager Steve McClary and City Attorney Trevor Rusin by Ann M. Ravel, a University of California, Berkeley, law school professor who has chaired both the California Fair Political Practices Commission and Federal Election Commission.

During the Planning Commission meeting on Oct. 2, Chair Skylar Peak and Commissioner Dennis Robert Smith addressed the allegations that they violated the California Financial Conflict of Interest Law by allegedly voting on matters before the commission in which they have a financial interest by virtue of their being licensed to conduct business in Malibu. 

During council updates, councilmember Bruce Silverstein addressed the Planning Commission allegations and urged Councilmember Paul Grisanti and Marianne Riggins to excuse themselves from any items relating to Planning Commissioners Peak and Smith. Grisanti and Riggins appointed Peak and Smith to the Planning Commission. 

Rusin responded, “based on the evidence of what we’ve seen in the complaint, I would not say that recusal is required for either councilmember in this case; no conduct from the councilmember has been alleged to be improper.”

The council motioned to hold a closed-session special meeting to address Ann M. Ravel’s letter that was submitted to the city manager and city attorney.

Public Works Director Rob DeBoux presented the outdoor warning sirens system and requested directions from the council. On May 3, staff presented siren design alternatives to the Public Works and Public Safety Commissions. The outdoor siren alternatives were discussed as well as implementing a pilot program. The commissions also discussed the option of implementing an indoor warning system. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Public Works and Public Safety Commissions recommend implementing Alternative 1 – Pilot Phase, a trial program of the siren system.

The council voted for Alternative 4 — Indoor Notification Systems. As an alternative to outdoor warning sirens, council may elect to explore the implementation of indoor notification systems. These types of systems can send alerts and messages to recipients who have receiver devices located inside their home or business. 

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The council approved the consideration of Local Coastal Program Amendment No. 21-001, Malibu Middle and High School Campus Specific Plan, General Plan Map Amendment No. 21-002, Zoning Text Amendment No. 22-002, and Zoning Map Amendment No. 22-001 (Malibu Middle and High School Campus Specific Plan Overlay District. Motion passed.

The council addressed item 5A hybrid meetings and AB 361 and motioned to continue 361 to another 30 days. The item is to consider continuing hybrid meetings, rescinding or ceasing to make the AB 361 findings, and/or provide direction on how hybrid meetings will operate after Jan. 1, 2024.

The council motioned to continue item 6B. Coastal Development Permit No. 20-068, Site Plan Review No. 21-009, and Demolition Permit No. 20-028 – An application to demolish an existing single-family residence and construct a new single-family residence, second unit and associated development (6734 Zumirez Drive; Owner: IBN Properties, LLC) (Continued from September 25, 2023).

The next City Council meeting is on Monday, Oct. 23.