With only a few days left for public comment on the proposal for a memorial park in Malibu, I have moved the item to the front burner of local planning concerns, and so I comment on public radio 97.5 KBU and select websites.

Therefore, my continued review of what I have labeled the Trancas Field Follies will just have to wait. There is time, since it seems the fate of that site in West Malibu has been sent to staff Siberia, while the city continues discussions with the Coastal Commission concerning the Bluffs Park plans.

No doubt both items will be put off until the a new council is seated next month, with a new majority promising to look closer into the city’s planning process, and the need for more transparency and improved community outreach.

Certainly needed for a second look and more public comment is the pending proposal for the memorial park and cemetery on a prime site at the northeast corner of PCH and Malibu Canyon Road.

The original plans for a luxury hotel there having been rejected, the new plans propose a two story chapel, a number of free standing mausoleums, 4,000 crypt internments and 29,00 burial plots, and ,of course, the necessary visitor parking .

Maybe it is the reluctance to speak ill of the dead, or raise questions of internment, but no one seems inclined to take exception to the plans. The only comment heard so far is that funeral corteges may exacerbate traffic on the PCH.

\Though sensitive to these issues, I am frankly more sensitive to the need for affordable housing for Malibu’s work force and seniors.

And further, from a land use point of view, the memorial park’s would make for an infinitely better residential development. Indeed, the 27 acre site could be masterly designed for perhaps 200 or so two story town houses in a well landscaped setting with striking views.

The site is in walking distance to the Civic Center, shopping, the library, Legacy and Bluffs parks , the beach, the proposed college extension, and accessible public transit. Score it a ten on the planning scale.

By workforce I am specifically referring to our public school teachers, first responders, city employee, shop clerks, waiters and waitresses; all those who toil and lend life to Malibu.

Most live beyond the 27 miles of scenic beauty that is Malibu, and must commute long distances to work, which of course adds to the traffic on the dreaded PCH.

And then there is also the need for senior housing for those increasing long time residents, many of our neighbors, who no longer can afford and maintain their now too large homes here, but want to stay in the Malibu they have roots in and love.

Not only is affordable housing good land use planning, I feel as I’ve said before, it is the moral, right thing to do.

I also like to think that the affable and inventive developer of the memorial park , Richard Weintraub, would be open to the alternative, though I’m not sure he or any developer would want to suffer the controversy a proposal for affordable housing is sure to stir.

Nonetheless, in a community that hosts and cares about all forms of life, the sea and mountain lions, dogs, cats, birds, and turtles too, in backyards and beyond, should care about the people who serve them, and their aging neighbors.

Let us plan with our heads, and also our hearts.





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Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.