Crummer Field Project Is Ok’d by Members of the California Coastal Commission
• Deal Has $2 Million ‘Price Tag’
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
The California Coastal Commission approved a five-home subdivision and two acres of open space proposed for a 24-acre blufftop parcel, historically known as Crummer Field, but only when the developer agreed to kick in $2 million as a “mitigation fee.”
The coastal panel made its decision last week, when it met in Oceanside to consider the application on the mid-Malibu land that is currently zoned commercial visitor- serving.
The City of Malibu had requested that a proposed development agreement that included a public ball field in exchange for the five-home subdivision be included in its Local Costal Program Amendment, which sought to modify the requirements of the planned development land use designation of the LCP to allow for a mix of residential and recreational use, instead of commercial visitor-serving uses on the vacant parcel adjacent to Bluffs Park.
However, the commission agreed with its staff and denied the city’s LCPA request and approved the proposal with a number of modifications, including the mitigation fee for changing the zoning from the commercial visitor-serving, which coastal planners successfully argued is so valuable that if it is retired, there should be offsets to compensate for the change. The coastal staff had sought a $750,000 mitigation fee, but a majority of the commissioners said they considered that amount “ludicrous.”
The owner of the site, Richard Ackerman, who agreed to the $2 million fee, had approached the city several years ago about subdividing the parcel into eight new lots and developing the site with five new single-family homes with a private road in the eastern portion of the property and dedicating the westernmost two acres of the site to the city to expand the adjacent city-owned park with an additional baseball field and 35 parking spaces.
An Environmental Impact Report was then completed and the city and developer unsuccessfully approached the commission with the LCPA.
However, the commission staff, after identifying what they called potential public projects in the area that are in need of funding to implement affordable visitor-serving accommodations, such as the former Topanga Ranch Motel that is owned by the state, which is considering rehabilitation, decided the loss of the commercial visitor-serving zoning should then require compensation by having the developer pay an in-lieu fee for the motel makeover.
However, at the meeting, CCC staff modified the condition and indicated that it wanted more flexibility, saying the money could go to a non-profit or private agency, which has a “shovel-ready” project for affordable overnight accommodations available.
The decision is not unlike another approval that the Coastal Commission granted a developer near the County Line where a small residential subdivision was planned and asked to meet similar conditions.
The commission required the developer to donate an in-lieu fee for possible upgrades, such as cabins for popular Leo Carrillo State Park to allow for additional overnight visitor-serving accommodations.
Some commissioners used that as an example of why Ackerman should pay more because of the amount the developer had to pay for the County Line project.
Meanwhile, city officials say it is not clear if the commission approved the ball field or an open space with a passive activity restriction.