Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Local Agricultural Landmark Sold to the Malibu Owner of the Clippers

• Nothing Has Been Announced about Possible Changes

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Fig Tree Ranch, now called Zuman Vital Farm, has reportedly been sold to Donald Sterling, a part-time Malibu resident, who might be best known as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and investor/owner of thousands of commercial and residential properties.
The farm property, which was described by a soils expert as some of the best organically prepared land in Malibu and maybe even Los Angeles County, had been on the market for most of the past year and was purportedly threatened with foreclosure before the reported purchase.
The expert from the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains told the Malibu City Council the ranch should be preserved as an agricultural exhibit for educational purposes.
“Sixty years of top soil. There is nothing like it in Malibu,” Clark Stevens of RCDSMM said.
Some members of the council had been considering acquisition of the six-acre ranch, which at that time was for sale. However, finding funding for the acquisition has remained the stumbling block.
Alan Cunningham, who has described himself as the sole owner of the property after he bought out other investors, declined to comment on the matter.
A property manager for Sterling’s Malibu properties was unable to say if the company had purchased the farm.
The farm has become a magnet for school children and others, who want to learn about organic farming. The property contains numerous exotic fruit trees, including many varieties of figs.
The Malibu City Council created an ad hoc committee comprised of Mayor Jefferson Wagner and Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, to explore the possibility of acquiring the land and adjacent parcels for some kind of west end community center/park.
A Blue Ribbon Task Force created by the city council had made recommendations of what might be suitable on the farm and other properties.
Currently, Zan Marquis, owner of the Point Dume Village shopping center, is in escrow on the adjoining land known as the DeWind property.
Conley Ulich said she envisioned the city keeping the organic farm intact as a working heritage farm much like other municipalities or counties that have acquired and then operated orange groves or other kinds of farming or ranching that represent a part of the state’s history.

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