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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Land Acquisition Options in Western Malibu Explored at This Week’s Council Meeting

• Plan for Center Parking on the Table

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Malibu City Council this week discussed what direction to take for possible acquisition of two west Malibu properties that were recently acquired by new owners.
The council had created an ad hoc committee to mull over whether to try to purchase a 9.83-acre vacant site known as the DeWind property that was recently purchased by Point Dume Village shopping center owner Zan Marquis and a 6.2-acre property with a residence known as Fig Tree Ranch or Vital Zuman Farm, which was recently acquired by Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
This week the council zeroed in on the DeWind property.
“How about [considering creating a] Bluffs Park West?” asked Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, about acquiring the relatively flat property. “We have one last opportunity to get the 10 acres. This will never happen again,” she said, adding the financing could come from the city’s reserves that are currently at $9.5 million.
“We can work with Zan, who has parking issues. It will allow for parking for employees and give our children an asset,” she said.
Conley Ulich reminded her colleagues that 50 percent of the population of the city resides west of Kanan Dume Road.
Outgoing Mayor Jefferson Wagner encouraged the council to consider the matter and suggested the council authorize the ad hoc committee, consisting of himself and Conley Ulich to negotiate. “Keep the door open. With her passion and my pragmatism, we might bring something back to the council,” he said.
The council also heard from one of the AYSO commissioners who said there is not enough space to practice and there might be a loss of fields if the school starts more programs and utilizes those ball fields.
Some of the neighbors who are just below the site on Bonsall Drive said they did not object to a park, ball fields or gardens.
Planning Commissioner John Mazza, who reminded council members of his fiscal conservatism, said there is money for the park either from the reserve or shifting money from other accounts. “My only rule is buy low. There is no other chance to buy 10 acres on PCH that is flat enough for fields,” he added.
Councilmember Lou La Monte said he would love to buy the property to build a park, “but we have to build a wastewater treatment plant.”
“We need to try to find a way to buy it. Our revenues are flat. If we can find a creative way to buy,” said La Monte, who went on to talk about the potential of using a development agreement to change the zoning and get what the city and the landowner wants.
“I would love to buy this property,” said Councilmember Laura Rosenthal. “My concern is not [the cost of] buying it, but [the cost] of developing it. I like the idea of a development agreement with Zan.”
Rosenthal said she had other questions, such as would it solve the parking and traffic problems on Heathercliff. “I want to know is everybody really for it? Is this what the community wants?”
“It would be a great park. But it is not just the acquisition of land. It is the cost of developing a park,” agreed Mayor John Sibert. “I don’t want to see it get lost. I don’t want to end the discussion.”
The council unanimously agreed to have the staff research the matter and bring back some answers for the council.
Marquis has indicated he wants to pursue getting zoning changes and other entitlements in order to build a parking lot on the rural-residential zoned property that would enable him to expand the shopping center and provide more parking for customers and employees.
He has also said that he is interested in listening to what the city has to say.
The council had formed the ad hoc committee and also set up a blue ribbon task force to look at both properties when they were on the market as possible sites for future municipal facilities, including ball fields, a municipal satellite library, or teen and senior centers.

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