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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Council Goes Back to Square One on Selection of Skatepark Designer

• Construction of a Temporary Facility Also Has Its Own Woes at Planning Commission Meeting

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Malibu City Council this week, decided to go back to the drawing board in selecting a designer for a proposed new skatepark at Malibu Bluffs Park.
Instead of approving a $37,200 contract with Wormhoudt, Inc. for professional design services for the proposed skatepark, the council chose the staff’s recommended alternative to authorize Parks and Recreation Director Bob Stallings to “reject” all proposals, reissue a new Request for Proposal and include up to three members of the skate board community to assist in reviewing and interviewing potential design consultants.
Former planning commissioner Regan Schaar said she was surprised when she found out there was no input from the skateboard community on the choice of the designer. “We need to redo it,” she said.
Schaar seemed to blame Mayor Laura Rosenthal for the problem. “Laura, you have been against this,” she said. Rosenthal responded, “You have no idea how I think.”
Councilmember Lou La Monte expressed concern the delay would further stall any new park.
“I would like to have the skateboarders involved,” said Councilmember John Sibert.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said the staff could work with the initial six applicants and interview all six with the skateboard community at hand. He said it would be about six to eight weeks.
Stallings made it clear he understood the process. “The consultant does not drive the design, the community does,” he said.
The mayor said she did not want the process to become political. “It doesn’t make a difference if we lose a couple of months,” she said.
Councilmember Joan House said she was going to support the alternative recommendation.
Wormhoudt, Inc was established by the late Ken Wormhoudt in 1963 and is considered, according to its website, a pioneer of public skate and bike park facility design and planning.
The firm has provided skate park facility planning and design consulting services for over 450 municipalities throughout the world.
At the same time, the construction of the temporary skatepark is also stalled.
The planning commission at its meeting on June 19 is again being asked to continue the public hearing on plans for the construction and operation of the temporary skatepark at 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 planning staff is meeting with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy staff this week,” said the city’s Planning Technician Joe Lezama. “We hope to resolve the matter at that time and get the matter back on the agenda.”
The location proposed by city officials is Bluffs Park and private property adjacent to the city-owned park.
The action comes after the city council approved a license agreement for parking to allow a temporary public parking lot on privately owned land known as the Crummer site, named after a former owner of the property.
However, until a recent letter was submitted from the Conservancy, there was apparently no knowledge of an SMMC easement.
Skateboard enthusiasts and municipal officials have pointed to Bluffs Park as the ideal for relocating the skate park, 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 Stallings, 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 have shown what his tentative plans are.
A scoping session on an Environmental Impact Report was held last week for the proposed five-home subdivision.
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.
Thorsen said it would take anywhere from 15 months to two years to build a new skate park.

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