Alternatives to City Hall Sought for Skate Park
• Staff Needs to Act Quickly to Move Equipment by Deadline
BY BILL KOENEKER
The Malibu City Council unanimously voted to authorize the city manager to negotiate and sign a short-term lease/permitting agreement not to exceed $35,000 annually to relocate the city-run skate park.
"We are looking for a long term and short term site to help relocate the park in a speedy matter. We are searching high and low for a site. What this does is allow us to more quickly respond to remove the equipment at the end of the month," said City Manager Jim Thorsen.
The council agreed to attach a Dec. 1 2011 deadline and if no offers are finalized, the ramps will be moved to the parking lot behind City Hall. Members upped the ante from $10,000 to $35,000 after a representative, acting on behalf of Steve Soboroff, presented the council with a check for $25,000 promised for relocation costs and $2500 for the farewell party the city recently sponsored.
Almost 10 months ago, the city received notice of termination of the skate park agreement, the new owners including 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.
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.
Soboroff also agreed to donate $25,000 to assist the city in relocating the skate park.
However, some parents urged the council to appeal to Soboroff to extend the lease further.
The council heard from a number of speakers who each had their own idea of what the city should do.
Hamish Patterson reminded the council skateboarding is also an adult sport and that the city should consider building a world-class facility that includes new equipment rather than the old ramps.
One speaker questioned the need for Soboroff to have the skate facility removed by the time the Environmental Impact Report study gets underway. Another speaker accused the council of sitting on their hands, knowing years beforehand the skate park would be removed.
However, Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich said the city had set up a fund in 2008, but nobody contributed money in anticipation of the removal of the skate park.
"I hate to say so, but I am glad this is happening. Now the people are worked up," she noted.
Conley Ulich who along with Councilmember Jefferson Wagner sits on the skateboard council subcommittee and has been discussing the matter for some time, recited some of the history about what the city has been exploring in the way of options.
Municipal officials have talked about using the parking lot at Malibu Bluffs Park.
However, planners insist the feasibility of relocating to the site is dependent on the use of the privately owned property adjacent to the park to offset the loss of parking spaces.
"Even though the property owner's representative is willing to assist the city, to date, the city has been unable to get authorization to use the land due to lender complications," Parks and Recreation Director Bob Stallings wrote in his staff report.
Another relocation site considered by the committee included the Boys and Girls Club. Schools, churches, private land and other city-owned property have been considered. Conley Ulich did not mention the club.
"Subsequently, the Boys and Girls Club have agreed to locate two skate ramps at their Malibu High School facility once a determination is made on other potential skate park sites," added Stallings, in the report.
The committee also considered relocating the skate park to the west end of the Zuma Beach parking lot # 12.
As a follow up, the city manager and Stallings met with the Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors Deputy Director Kerry Silverstrom to discuss the potential use of the Zuma Beach parking lot.
"The county staff was receptive to the idea and requested time to fully vet the city's request before committing to the relocation," Stallings noted.
Wagner said the problem in relocating the park is the difficulty in securing property. "It is not a matter of will," Wagner said in addressing the critics. "We are not sitting on our hands. And I agree the park should be for all ages."
Councilmember Lou La Monte agreed with the speakers who said the city needs a world-class facility. "These people on the subcommittee are working very hard for you," he added.
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal agreed with Wagner on the difficulty of locating any kind of city-owned facility when the city does not own land. She said she felt comfortable with the Dec. 1 deadline for moving the ramps to City Hall.
Mayor John Sibert said the Zuma Beach location would be ideal. "It is a good place. It is flat and about five acres. It is not flat behind City Hall. We need to find some land," the mayor added.
Other costs include moving the ramps, possible fencing, windscreens, resurfacing, access gates and office trailer and utility connections.
"Until the relocation site has been identified, the projected costs are anticipated to range from $15,000-$50,000. Once a final location is determined, staff will present a budget to the city council for approval," Stallings concluded in his staff report.
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.