Parks and Rec discusses ways to improve Malibu Bluffs resources, facility

With temperatures increasing, the department wanted to inform and educate the community on rattlesnake season. The precautionary rattlesnakes video shown during the meeting provided some tips and information on what to do when you encounter a rattlesnake while visiting an outdoor park. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

The Malibu Community Service Department provided an update on Youth Sports Organizations and Field use and presented a precautionary rattlesnake video during the Parks and Recreation commission meeting on Tuesday, June 21.

Community Service Deputy Director Kristen Riesgo presented the report with an estimated number of enrollment and participants for the youth programs. Some of the youth programs that utilize the Malibu Bluffs Park facility are Malibu AYSO Region 759 and Malibu Little League.

For the 2021-22 year, Malibu AYSO received 386 participants, which is the lowest in the last few years, but an improvement from 2020-21, which came during the pandemic. During the 2019-20 season, there were 466 participants. Riesgo said the organization also keeps track of non-residents participating, which this year is 10 percent, roughly 35 kids. 

Riesgo said Malibu Little League added and extended their new programs such as Coach Pitch Baseball, Pony Baseball (Junior Baseball) and has seen an increase in participation. In 2022, Malibu Little League had 254 participants and roughly 55 were non-residents.

The city also organizes and offers youth, adult and senior sports during the summer and fall season. For summary, Riesgo said the youth sports off-season increased by two days a week and the Malibu Bluffs Park is at maximum capacity for youth groups. 

“We’ve seen an uptick in participation in recreation programs after everything had been lifted and we could get back to kind of some normal programming and I know Little League has seen a great increase in attendance,” Riesgo said. 

As for food and beverages being offered at Malibu Bluffs Park, commissioners asked about the Snack Shack that is not being utilized. 

“Having a food truck there seems like a reasonable compromise, but it doesn’t feel like the best thing to do,” Vice Chair Dane Skophammer said. “I would like to see a little bit more information about what it would take to get something in there that would at least improve it and at best serve hot food.”

With temperatures increasing, the department wanted to inform and educate the community on rattlesnake season. The precautionary rattlesnakes video shown during the meeting provided some tips and information on what to do when you encounter a rattlesnake while visiting an outdoor park. 

Recreation Supervisor Chris Orosz was the video speaker and gave a brief history on the importance and dangers of rattlesnakes.

“Rattlesnakes are native to Malibu and play an essential role in the ecosystem. They control rodent population, which limits the spread of rodent prone diseases like lyme disease and reduces property damage caused by mice, rats, and ground squirrels,” Orosz said. “They’re cold blooded, which means they cannot regulate their body temperature and because of this, they are most active when the temperature is between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Orosz continued to share tips for park visitors, such as staying on trail, keeping pets on leashes, and checking playground areas before allowing children to use the equipment. 

“Keep in mind that rattlesnakes do not always rattle before striking so a visual check is needed to guarantee they are not present,” Orosz said. “If you see a rattlesnake, stay as far away as possible, report the sighting and do not harm the snake.” 

Commissioners suggested implementing picture signs around the parks with educational facts on the types of wildlife there are in parks such as different types of rattlesnakes.

Riesgo provided an update on trail clearance and maintenance on Trancas Field and Charmlee Wilderness Park. 

Recreation Manager Kate Gallo shared recreation updates with the commission, such as summer youth programs. Gallo said they have not canceled any day camps in the last two weeks, which are enrichments, skates, sports, and surf. Gallo said they also had an increase in participation for the summer day camps with 400 pre-registered.

“If you count our swim lesson program, we will be offering over 100 recreation programs in this eight weeks of summer, so it’s definitely a very, very full plate for us this summer,” Gallo said. 

Community Service Director Jesse Bobbett acknowledged Gallo and the recreation staff for their ongoing dedication in moving programs forward with the staff shortage following the Woolsey fire and the pandemic. 

“They’ve gone above and beyond this year, and it’s really amazing to see,” Bobbett said. “Following the [Woolsey] fire, you know we lost a lot of homes and a lot of families had to move or leave the area for a bit and then we had COVID, so I think we tailed the way down and it’s almost exploded back to higher levels then we were seeing even pre-pandemic.” 

The last item discussed was the impound yard at Heathercliff. Commissioners expressed their concerns on the city’s urgency to occupy the lot during the summer. The city started operating the new temporary day-use impound yard on Saturday, June 18. During the first weekend, the lot was used to store nine towed cars. According to the website, the yard is meant to address the expected seasonal increase in illegally parked cars during the summer. The ordinance only allows the temporary impound yard to be used this summer daily between Memorial Day, May 30, and Oct. 3 to minimize the impacts on surrounding neighborhoods and the environment. The ordinance requires the use of the lot to end on Oct. 3.  

“Kristen and I preach this to all of our commissions and especially our groups that are passionate about very specific things,” Bobbett said. “I will say one thing: I do know is there are a lot of different voices coming from a lot of directions and every group needs to be passionate for what they want and in our opinion that means reach out to your council members and you let them know what your priorities are and what you think is important.”

Bobbett recommends commissioners attend City Council meetings and voice their concerns.

“That’s where the real push and motivation from getting something from the commission to the council level is done,” he said. “It’s when you come and you speak especially during budget season because when they’re making those important decisions.”

Bobbett said public safety concerns get pushed from the commission to the council because the members who speak and provide feedback make a difference. 

“Obviously public safety is a huge issue in Malibu and they’re [Public Works Commission] a very vocal group and because public safety is important, a lot of times things get pushed through,” Bobbett said. “I would argue that this group [Parks and Rec] is equally as important because there are a lot of things that families and people in this community need from a parks and recreation perspective, but it does take you pushing that foward … the value of something coming from you versus coming from us [Community Service Dept] just means more.”

The next Parks and Recreation Commission meeting is scheduled for July 19.