City Official Contends Campfires Were a Goal of the Conservancy Park Plan from the Beginning
• Planning Chief Says There Are Discrepancies in DEIR
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
A Malibu municipal official has accused the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy of making campfires a part of the park plan for trails and overnight camping.
“It appears that campfires were always intended to be part of the plan, yet were not acknowledged or analyzed in the Draft Environmental Impact Report,” wrote Vic Peterson, the head of Malibu’s planning and building department, in a scathing comment submitted for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s Draft Environmental Impact Report for its Malibu Parks Public Access Enhancement Plan.
That perceived discrepancy is among several that are cited by the city official as not being analyzed in the DEIR, “which failed to take into account the kinds of activities that are allowed on other SMMC or Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority land.”
“The fact that MRCA Ordinance No. 1-2205 was amended the same day that the plan Initial Study started circulation shows that the uses within the parkland were reasonably foreseeable,” the Peterson comments go on to state.
The city official’s response enumerates a host of activities that also are allowed on MRCA land by special permit issued by the executive officer of the MRCA. They include campfires, alcohol, taking or collecting specimens, fishing, fireworks, off-leash dog areas, off-road vehicles, camping, commercial filming, flight hang gliders and parasailing.
A document footnote reiterates that the MRCA executive officer is the executive director of the SMMC who is Joe Edmiston.
The city has also attached as further evidence a letter from Edmiston about how a special- use-permit campfire “probably with a fire engine in attendance is possible for special occasions (like a weekly interpretative event).”
Peterson added, “It is understandable that the issuance of special use permits will help generate revenue needed to maintain the MRCA’s fire department and administrative offices, as well as fund programs, within Ramirez Canyon Park. It is also understandable why uses such as commercial filming and fireworks in public parkland need to be regulated. However, what is not easily understood is why the additional uses within MRCA were not acknowledged or analyzed in the project description and DEIR given the community’s well-known fire concerns.”
The head planner wrote about other perceived discrepancies with the project description, including that “emergency fire shelters” had not been adequately described and the DEIR fails to direct the reader to the information “buried in Appendix 1 as to the true function of these shelters as a ‘last resort.’”
Also the Malibu planner noted “the fire truck sheds and their intended purpose has not been adequately described in the DEIR, which does not define if they are garages or mini-fire stations, or explain why they are necessary.”
The proposed project, according to Peterson, does not provide a clear breakdown or analysis of impacts on Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas among other discrepancies.