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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Temporary Skatepark Plans Expected to Proceed

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu Planning Commission will be asked at its May 15 meeting to approve the plans for the construction and operation of a temporary skatepark in city-owned Malibu Bluffs Park in an existing parking lot and the conversion of adjacent vacant land into a temporary public parking lot.
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 known as the Crummer property.
Enthusiasts and municipal officials have pointed to Bluffs Park as ideal for relocating the skate park, but had been 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.
The 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 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.
At a previous meeting, the city council, to the thunderous applause of a standing-room-only crowd of young people and skate board enthusiasts, unanimously agreed to spend up to $40,000 for design services for a new skatepark at Bluffs Park.
Last year, the city council formed the Skate Park Ad Hoc Committee to address the loss of the city’s skatepark.
The committee comprised of former Councilmembers Jefferson Wagner and Pamela Conley Ulich, were tasked with assessing the need for a permanent or temporary skatepark, identifying potential locations with favorable zoning and community acceptance and researching funding sources and costs for new park construction.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said it would take anywhere from 15 months to two years to build a new skate park.
The council figured they already have the money to make the move of the old equipment onto the existing site at the bluffs location.
“The proposed scope of work for the RFP will include tasks for community outreach, conceptual design, schematic design, final design development and construction documents. The design work would include conceptual and schematic design, grading and drainage plans, community meetings to discuss needs and final construction documents and specifications,” Parks and Recreation Director Bob Stallings told council members.
Almost 10 months ago, the city received notice of termination of the skatepark agreement, the new owners including Steve Soboroff needed to get back the land for an Environmental Impact Report that is about to begin on the property for a Whole Foods anchored shopping center. Soboroff said recently a lease has been signed by the Whole Foods Company
After further consideration, Soboroff agreed to extend the use of the property through Oct. 31, 2011 to allow more time for the city to relocate the park.
For more than 12 years, the city had maintained an agreement at no cost to use vacant land that was called Papa Jack’s skate park.
BY BILL KOENEKER

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