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Proponents of a canine park in eastern Malibu will have to fetch a new location after the Parks and Recreation Commission determined the park alongside Las Flores Creek is, for this purpose, a dog.
The city’s only dog park is located at the sprawling Trancas Canyon Park, in western Malibu, and it’s a 20,000-square-foot fenced-off beauty.
Residents have long asked for a similar facility on the other end of town, and in October 2019 the commission toured Las Flores Creek Park — a neighborhood pocket park that opened in 2008 — and requested city staff research the possibility of putting one there.
A year ago January, staff came back with a report touting a canine area on 3,000 square feet of land at the northeast portion of the park, located off Las Flores Canyon Road. Aside from having to trim some trees, the area was suitable, the staff found, and would even allow for expansion if a portion of a walkway to the west of the site was adjusted or removed.
Jessie Bobbett, the city’s Community Services director, said any tree trimming at the location would be light — something the city does all the time.
“We’re not talking about taking down major parts of the tree or destroying the root structure.”
Cost of the park was estimated at $17,000 to $57,000, depending on materials and scope, and the money would come from the General Fund or from Los Angeles County Measure A Allocated Park Funds, of which the city has a balance of $175,000.
For all its beauty, Las Flores Creek Park failed to even place with the judges when they met on Feb. 17. Instead, three of the four commissioners leaned toward the Ioki property or the proposed La Paz Ranch project in the Civic Center area as better options.
Commission member Robert Wells said a dog park at Las Flores would attract no new traffic, foot or paw.
“I don’t believe for one minute this change to this park is going to draw in people who currently don’t use this park,” he said. “I think it’s an additional enhancement for people who already use this park.”
Not so, said commission member Georgia Goldfarb.
“Once things become advertised,” she said, “the usage increases a lot.” This, Goldfarb said, is a concern because of environmental concerns at Las Flores Creek Park.
Commission Chair Suzanne Guldimann said her research found that the minimum standard for a dog park is 20,000 square feet — more than six times that of the proposed Las Flores facility.
“There is no way that this itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny thing that’s less than a tenth of an acre is going to be sufficient,” she said. “And if it’s going to cost this amount of money to install this park here, I would much rather have a half acre or, better yet, a full acre at La Paz or down at Ioki, where everyone can use it; it’s big enough for big dogs and small dogs; and we’re not facing the question of whether or not we’re going to be able to do it because of the (environmental) requirements.”
While committed to finding a place for a dog park in the eastern part of town, Guldimann summed up the Las Flores proposal as “ridiculous.”
“It’s like putting a baseball diamond in someone’s living room,” she said.
Wells, admitting being “a dog with a bone on this project,” noted the skate park, located adjacent to Bluffs Park, took 20 years. Would a dog park take as long?
“If we kick this can down the road and decide not to put this in, how long will it take to develop any one of the other areas? If not this, then what?”
Guldimann didn’t budge, saying the skate park could have gone anywhere, but through dogged determination, the commission landed on the right site.
For a dog park, she added, Las Flores Creek Park is not that right site.
“Just like we got the skate park, we’re going to get this done,” she said.
“Just not here.”