Parks and Recreation Commission express lack of recreation facilities and community center in Malibu

Heather Cliff parking lot was discussed to create a community facility and host program events 

New hires, skate park attendance numbers, and the parks and recreation master plan were discussed during the Parks and Recreation Commission special meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 19.

Community Service Director Jesse Bobbett provided a report of the activities, events, and the temporary skate park attendance and introduced the two new recreation coordinators, Loren Davis and Amanda Rigali. 

“I’m more excited to get our staffing back up to normal levels so that we can try and catch up on a lot of things we’ve been behind on,” Bobbett said. “We’ve been fortunate on the parks and recreation site that our field is just an in-demand kind of specialized field, so we were fortunate to get a lot of applications.”

Bobbett said they received over 140 applications, but Davis and Rigali stood out throughout the interview process. 

“I think our senior program is a very important program. We have a lot of participation and especially during COVID with the isolation,” member Judy Villablanca said. “So I’m really happy to have someone take over that job.”

Members of the committee nominated Alicia Peak as the new chair and Dane Skophammer as the vice-chair.

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Bobbett said an estimated 10,941 visited the temporary skate park last year, compared to 3,287 in 2020. Bobbett said it was expected due to the rise of COVID-19 and the reservation system that was implemented when it was partially opened. 

Villablanca asked if there was an age range and how many were Malibu residents and non-residents in the report. 

“I would say it’s a fair mix,” Bobbett said. “We obviously don’t have the specific information we had when we had a staff member there at all times and the reservation systems, but that’s a little bit of a bummer not being able to tally residents versus non-residents, which I know we did in our last report. But I can tell you we get a fairly good mix of preteen, youth, and in the teen years.”

Bobbett said if they can collect certain numbers and categories, they can qualify for county or state funds.

“If it were considered a region serving park, not just a local park, there are different funds for different sizes of counties and cities, and sometimes those will be based on how many non-residents were coming to your skate park and using it,” Bobbett said. 

Bobbett said they have events organized for Spring and Summer 2022.

Five members voted to move, receive and file the report on the skate park. 

Bobbett provided the parks and recreation master plan, which was adopted by council in 2013.

The City Council approved the final conceptual design for the temporary skate park on Feb. 24, 2020, and opened on Jul. 3, 2020.

The temporary skate park is located at 24250 Pacific Coast Hwy and is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. For more information on programs, park hours, and upcoming meetings, visit MalibuCity.org/SkatePark.

While members were providing ideas to host new programs for the community, Bobbett was giving an update on the rankings of the programs and which ones are most popular. 

The top five program priorities for the community were adult fitness and wellness programs, visual and performing arts programs, senior programs, open swim programs, and environmental education programs.

Former Parks and Recreation Chair Georgia Goldfarb asked how they can create more environmental education and art and crafts programs at Legacy Park across The Malibu Library. 

“We’re actually offering programs coming up here pretty soon—just winter was happening, so we’re bringing them back to the spring, so in a couple of months,” Community Services Deputy Director Kristin Riesgo said. 

Bobbett provided a rundown of the participation numbers from the youth sports leagues every year starting from 2017. The report is documented for the commission as information.

“I know one of the big things that has evolved over the past couple years is our lack of field space, and then the fire and the pandemic happened, which have thrown these numbers way off skew,” Bobbett said. 

In 2017, there were 613 participants during the Malibu Little League season; it decreased to 386 participants in 2020 due to the Woolsey Fire and the COVID-19 surge. Bobbett said there were 194 total participants in 2021 and of which 169 were Malibu residents.

Bobbett said they hope to organize events; however, it’s been a challenge to partner with schools such as Pepperdine University. 

Goldfarb asked if they would be able to utilize space at Santa Monica City College. 

“I don’t know how willing they’re going to be to share that with us; we hope that we can partner with them,” Bobbett said. “I know we’ve tried to work with Pepperdine, and we usually get help from them off-site, but getting into Pepperdine is a real challenge, so we’re hopeful it’s not that challenging, and we can partner with them on some programs because I know we could really utilize some of the space.”

The commission asked if they would be able to use funds that were unused by the Malibu Library.

Member Suzanne Guldimann said besides City Hall and Malibu Bluffs Park, they need to have their own facility to host their own programs.

“This is why we need to be able to have that discussion about having our own facilities, so we aren’t the stepchild who has to share their toys,” Guldimann said. “It would be nice if we could just have the space to do our programming someday, we have the land now, but we can’t have the discussion about it; it’s just really frustrating.”

Locations such as Heather Cliff parking lot are areas they would be able to create a community facility and host program events.

“If there’s room for a multipurpose field there, that takes care of of the AYSO kids, and it can be used for the little leagues, frisbees, concerts, it’s one of the less expensive items, I mean it does have expenses attached, but it seems to check out a lot of boxes,” Guldimann said. “So that would be a really good thing to put there.”

The commission said Point Dume could be a potential area to create a pool facility, having a more flat surface.

More ideas and suggestions were recommended by the commission that would benefit multi-generational centers. 

“In a community like this that’s so close to the ocean, for us not to have a community pool is kind of insane to me,” Peak said. 

Riesgo provided the update on the parks and recreation master plan and department updates, and the winter recreation programs. Riesgo said they have planted 150 new plants in 7 new plots at Legacy Park, have installed water bars at Charmlee Wilderness Park, and have 395 pre-registered participants for the winter recreation programs. 

Bobbett briefly discussed the organic waste recycling program, SB 1383, and said the program is still being finalized.

“I did speak with our environmental sustainability department, and they are working to develop better educational materials for people, and the difficult part is our trash service is divided into two different haulers of the city, there’s the west side which has waste management which is overseen by the city and in the eastside which utilizes UWS (Universal Waste System), and unfortunately they are overseen by the county,” Bobbett said. “So with the county overseeing the east portion and our provider seeing the west portion, they’re handling this whole composting bin differently, so LA County still hasn’t finalized how they’re going to sort the green waste.”

The Parks and Recreation Commission meets on the third Tuesday of every month. Meeting agendas and minutes for City boards, commissions, and committees are available in the Agenda Center.

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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