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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Plans for Temporary Skate Park Hit a Snag

• Planners Must Resolve Issue of SMMC’s Deeded Use

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu Planning Com-mission is being asked at its meeting on June 5 to once again continue the public hearing on plans for the construction and operation of a temporary skatepark in Malibu Bluffs Park.
Currently, plans call for the interim skatepark to be located in an existing parking lot and the conversion of vacant land into an auxiliary temporary public parking lot, according to city officials.
The matter had been continued from the May 15 meeting after commissioners were told additional time was needed for the staff to work with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to resolve issues regarding the SMMC’s deeded use of the existing parking lot.
The location proposed by city officials is the Bluffs Park and private property adjacent to the city-owned parkland.
The action comes after the Malibu City Council approved a license agreement for parking to allow a temporary public parking lot on privately owned land formerly owned by the Crummer family.
However, until a recent letter from the Conservancy, there was apparently no knowledge about the SMMC easement.
Skating enthusiasts and municipal officials have pointed to Bluffs Park as the ideal for relocating the skatepark, but had been initially thwarted because of a lack of adequate parking, according to city planners.
“The feasibility of relocating to this site is dependent on the use of the privately owned property adjacent to Malibu Bluffs Park to offset the loss of the parking spaces,” wrote Bob Stallings, the city’s parks and recreation director in a staff report.
The agreement provides the city use of the property with the understanding that the landowner has plans underway to develop the land for single-family homes. Story poles on the site show what his tentative plans are.
An upcoming scoping session on an Environmental Impact Report is scheduled for the five-home subdivision is planned on June 7.
The parking lot agreement, according to Stallings, contemplates a broad scope of indemnities and liabilities the city agrees to undertake.
In his staff report to council members, Stallings indicated the city attorney has expressed “serious concerns over the extent of liability the city will be accepting,” if the agreement is executed.
Council members did not discuss those concerns when it approved the parking agreement.
The property owner is also requiring $50 million in commercial general liability coverage.
“That level of coverage is usually associated with an environmental calamity, not with risk of personal injury,” wrote Stallings, who also said the property owner wants the city to accept liability for unauthorized activities and trespassers.
“Although staff is cognizant of atypical liability provisions, due to the importance of the skate relocation project, council is being asked to authorize the city manager to negotiate and execute a license agreement with the property owners,” Stallings concluded.
At the same time efforts are moving forward with securing design plans for a new skatepark.
On Feb. 8, what is called a Request for a Proposal or RFP was released by the city's Parks and Recreation Department to solicit proposals to complete design elements for a skatepark facility to be located at Malibu Bluffs Park.
There is nothing in the RFP that states what type of skatepark the city wants. Skatepark designers had until March 14 to submit their proposals to City Hall.
 “The goal for the project is that it be a permanent skate facility. Construction material and type of facility have yet to be determined. The consultant selected for the project will identify those items as tasks are completed,” the staff memo noted
There are no dimensions available for the proposed skatepark, according to city officials, who let consultants know that the actual skate facility will be determined in the second phase of conceptual design.
“The goal for the project is that it be a permanent skate facility.
Construction materials and type of facility have yet to be determined. The consultant selected for the project will identify those items as tasks are completed.”
 “The concept discussed in community meetings with the Skate Park Ad Hoc Committee was for a mixed-use skate park plaza that would combine challenging skate features with pedestrian-friendly pathways and landscaping amid a skate park layout.
“The design could include an all-wheel friendly features that would allow BMX and rollerblade uses. There was also discussion of a traditional style, permanent skatepark specifically for skateboarding,” the RFP concludes.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said it would take anywhere from 15 months to two years to build a new skate park.

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