Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lagoon Plan Foes Fire Volleys

• Group Adds New Concerns to Its List

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


Opponents of the Malibu Lagoon restoration plan continue to raise questions about the validity of the project that would involve using heavy equipment to dredge, re-contour and deepen the western portion of the lagoon and remove the islands and bridges that provide access to the beach through the center of the lagoon. The redevelopment portion of the project is scheduled to begin on June 1.
A press release issued by the opposition organization Save Our Lagoon focuses on what opponents say are serious problems with the present lagoon parking lot, which was the first phase of the restoration project.
“The parking lot was rebuilt in 2007 to slope storm water away from the lagoon and to use crushed shale layers to filter and percolate storm water, but it now suffers from ongoing maintenance problems and safety hazards, in addition to a separate new set of environmental issues,” said David Olan, a lawyer and surfer who frequently uses the park.
“What we’re seeing is a series of broken promises and unrealized expectations,” Olan stated in the press release.
“The State of California spent more than $1.1 million altering the lot to remedy environmental concerns, but the reality does not live up to what we were promised by the plan and its advocates. We are very concerned that phase II of the lagoon reconstruction plan will have a similar result, and the consequences of such broken promises in this coming phase would be far more severe.”
Project critics have harsh words for a concrete observation area that was intended to provide a location for birdwatching and educational programs, but is reportedly described by frequent park visitors as unattractive, uninviting and rarely used.
Picnic benches and tables were also criticized for being located by the parking lot instead of in a location with a view.
Olan points out a pipe protruding from the ground that was intended to be an outdoor shower for beachgoers, but was never completed. He also has harsh words for the park’s two outhouses that he says are frequently covered in graffiti and infrequently serviced.
Olan questions the park service’s ability to adequately maintain existing facilities. “Designs that require extensive maintenance should be ruled out if such a level of caretaking is not possible,” he wrote.
The Malibu Township Council, after lengthy discussion and presentations by representatives from both sides of the issue, has opted to oppose the restoration project.
A letter from the MTC board to California Governor Jerry Brown states that MTC’s board of directors “urge the state to postpone the start of the plan in order to consider alternative plans that will reduce environmental damage of the work required to improve the health of the Lagoon.”
The letter goes on to state that “The use of bulldozers in this sensitive area is unacceptable. There have been several alternative plans put forward, one by an environmental organization as well as a proposal from a resident, which should be considered. We ask that you use your influence to postpone the start of the state’s plan now scheduled for June, until alternate plans can be considered.”

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