SMMC Head Seeks Override of LCP Amendment Approved by the City
• Council Members Had Publicly Rejected Previous Request to Rescind Their Votes in Controversy •
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
The board of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is expected this week to consider a resolution authorizing its executive director to submit a Malibu Local Coastal Program Amendment pursuant to the LCP override procedures of the California Coastal Commission.
The amendment would include a request for a level of usages at Ramirez Canyon Park consistent with those previously approved by the Coastal Commission in 2000, in addition to a provision to allow overnight camping and handicapped access camping at the park, according to SMMC documents.
The override also includes camping in Escondido and Corral Canyon park.
Addtionally, the new submission would call for the establishment of a Malibu parks affordable access fund, using the net proceeds from events at Ramirez Canyon Park to provide inner city outreach in Malibu parks.
The revision will also include a request for acquisition and improvements of all potential trail segments and linkages to and along the Coastal Slope Trail, together with improvements of public restrooms and parking areas to serve the trails and trail linkages.
The revisions will also include a request for public camping, restrooms and parking at Escondido Canyon Park, together with related handicapped access improvements, satellite parking and trail staging areas serving the park.
In addition, the LCPA override will include a request for public camping, restrooms and parking at Corral Canyon Park, together with handicapped access improvements.
The board, which is holding a special teleconference session on Friday, Dec. 28, is expected to also consider a resolution amending the scope of work for grant funds to include additional project planning and design for camping in Escondido, Ramirez and Corral canyons.
The override follows on the heels of a request that most Malibu City Council members say they will probably not consider, a request by Joe Edmiston, the executive director of the Conservancy to rescind their vote on the SMMC’s LCPA trails and park plan that included a ban on overnight camping.
“I don’t know if we have the jurisdiction [to vote on it],” said Councilmember Andy Stern, who said he would not agree to vote on it again.
Edmiston wrote in a letter last week that what he thought was a cooperative effort between the state agency and the city was dashed when he contended the city failed to compromise in any significant way on the LCPA.
“The planning commission action approving the LCPA gave further support to our hope that proceeding through the City of Malibu would yield a mutually agreed outcome,” Edmiston added.
“So it was with some surprise, that we heard at your Dec. 5 hearing that, lo and behold, fire was an issue that required not only denial of the LCP Amendment request for specific camping sites, but a total elimination of any possibility of overnight camping in public parks in Malibu, even though camping is a permitted use in the Malibu LCP approved by the Coastal Commission,” Edmiston wrote.
The SMMC head urged the council to rescind their action within 30 days of his letter or he would take action.
Stern said it is the obligation of the coastal staff to review the LCPA and said he did not believe there was anything at this point that could be rescinded.
Stern said he thought the key element for the city for the submission of the LCPA to the coastal agency was for Malibuites “to fight it like the LCP.”
The city council member said the city needs to find a way to limit camping.
“The Coastal Commission does not automatically rubber stamp everything the staff recommends,” he added, referring to a previously published report that the CCC executive director Peter Douglas indicated he believed the LCPA submission was a waste of time because on its face it violated the Coastal Act.
Edmiston, in his letter, also took issue with the council’s action in regards to proposing a level of use for major events at Ramirez Canyon Park.
“Pursuant to what we felt were good faith negotiations with Malibu city staff, the Conservancy proposed a level of use roughly half that which was previously approved by the California Coastal Commission,” he wrote.
However, Edmiston noted the city conditioned what he called “any reasonable use,” of the park on a possible $8.5 million road that may or may not get built or approved.
“The city makes an elaborate balancing argument in favor of the alternative road, but gives the Conservancy virtually nothing in terms of public programs or events if the Coastal Commission doesn’t agree with such [an] argument.”
The Conservancy spokesperson blasted the city leaders for praising the proposed trails, but not wanting “outsiders” to either park or stay overnight in affordable camp sites, thus approving a trail system that primarily benefits Malibu residents.
However, some city officials, including the planning commission, are not swayed that there is a need for more camping on or near the coastline.
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who led the opposition to overnight camping, insists there are plenty of affordable sites.
The planning commission, as part of its recommendation of the LCPA, insisted one of the conditions of approval be a comprehensive study of the need for more camping.
Edmiston complained that a ban on overnight camping means overnight visitors could only stay in “über-expensive hotel rooms and almost as expensive private campgrounds.”
City Attorney Christi Hogin did not return repeated phone calls.