If you live in Malibu, as I do, you have to love Bluffs Park, with it engaging range of out door diversions on a spectacular site with stunning views

Physically, it is one of the outstanding features on Malibu’s singular seacoast, and a treasured public open space, in all of California.

But politically, for the poorly served city government, it is a swamp. into which City Hall appears to be sinking, as witnessed at the recent council meetings, as I comment on public radio 97.5 KBU, cityobserved, and select websites, and in the LOCAL.

A prime problem is the park’s proposed plans, which after much fumbling and feinting is an ambitious, if not unrealistic, wish lists of facilities. This includes a few new ball fields, an aquatic center, a skateboard board park, a dog park, and more parking

The problem: not only there were no price estimates; worse, the Coastal Commission staff took strong exception to the proposed excessive facilities, and their sitting compromised the Bluffs’ environmentally sensitive acreage and an unstable slope. I

In short, the woeful plan was given faint hope of approval by the Commission.

City Hall had to expect this; they had been cautioned, but as is the city’s s.o.p., the pubic was deluded. All those planning sessions, consultant fees, and council posturing, they are long gone and forgotten.

Nevertheless, the council called for a hearing, and out came the persevering proponents of open space, as well as the ever-hopeful coaches and kids. But before pleading their causes they had to first suffer through hours of strained poetry and murky engineering.

All this also was for naught, just as the past hearings had been, for the facilities most likely wont be built on the Bluffs and if the city keeps bungling, sadly nowhere. The open space advocates will win by default, sadly because many also are in favor of the sports facilities, as long as Bluffs Park is left as is.

Or is it bungling? Maybe its bad advice? Or maybe City Hall really doesn’t want to build it, but instead just keep it on their desks shuttling between the in-and out baskets, as bureaucratic busy work.

It is not like the there is some special private interests promoting ball fields, or as in the past like a water treatment plant to satisfy an E.I.R to accommodate more civic center development and serve nearby luxury housing. Then cover it with earth, some plants, call it a park, and let the city pay for it.

Actually, what is now Legacy Park was once considered for the needed ball fields some 20 years by the city’s Parks and Rec Commission, on which not incidentally I as a little league coach was then serving.

But City Hall back then had its own private agenda, worked out a deal with a few deep-pocketed property owners, and buried the ball fields for the treatment plant. Lots of money was involved.

So here we are again, searching for sites for sports facilities. Bluffs Park isn’t going to work.

Maybe we can renegotiate and reconstruct Legacy for the needed ball fields, or buy some civic center sites instead of seeing them go for not-needed malls? And certainly one or two can easily fit onto Trancas Field without disturbing the neighbors?

The search certainly is going to be a test of Malibu’s moxie and civic will.




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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.

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