LETTER: Land Swap a Done Deal?

Lucile Keller of Malibu asks the city council for an explanation of a motion directing the Malibu city attorney to negotiate agreements and documents for the Charmlee/Bluffs land swap.

During the 1/28 Council meeting, Council member Laura Rosenthal asked how can the Council be accused of both offering to trade Charmlee Park for Bluffs Park in secret, and not having done any research as to whether or not sports fields they want can even be built on Bluffs Park. 

I’ll tell you how – you did both. Joan House and Lou La Monte, ostensibly without knowledge of the other three Council members, and certainly without any knowledge of the public, met with Edmiston, SMMC Executive Director, to “float an idea” to Edmiston – trading Charmlee for Bluffs Park. 

Obviously Edmiston thought an offer was being made by the city as he subsequently met with the city manager and city attorney and the conservancy’s “full legal team” and “hammered out the details” – still the public has no knowledge of this, least of all the homeowners who abut Charmlee. 

Then we find the Charmlee trade on the Conservancy’s agenda and then – guess what - on the 1/14 City Council agenda – still no public notice. Alarmed residents send out chain email to warn other residents – and they show up to protest. 

Why you might ask would your elected officials do this? Because five years ago that Council came close to giving in to Edmiston’s demands and giving permission to put camp sites in Charmlee – and residents put up a huge fight – and the Corral fire was set by guess what – park users. The city backed off.  Why don’t we want campsites?? - because of the fire danger. Rules prohibiting fires can be made – but you can’t enforce them in the wilderness in the middle of the night. That’s the whole issue – fire danger.  

Now, the 1/14 City Council minutes are out and guess what the lead sentence is in the motion all five approved. “Direct the city attorney to negotiate agreements and implementing documents to effect land swap of Charmlee Wilderness Park for approximately 83 acres of Bluffs Park….”   

I was in the room – I don’t remember that language. The council members at that time denied the swap was a done deal and directed the city manager to determine if sports fields can be built on the 10 percent of Bluffs Park that can be used; to contact the Fire Dept. re the fire danger of campsites in the wilderness area; and review the restrictions placed on Charmlee Park when the city took ownership.

At the 1/28 Council meeting the Council continued to declare they were just considering the idea of this swap – nothing on paper – no details – just considering? Really? Then why does the 1/14 motion direct the city attorney to negotiate agreements and documents to effect the swap of Charmlee for Bluffs?

I call upon all five City Council members to rescind the language of that motion and start working with the residents to determine how to get the sports fields they want without burning down the West end of Malibu.    

Lucile Keller, Malibu

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Marshall Thompson February 04, 2013 at 10:28 PM
I am SO disappointed in the stealthy way this deal has gone down between our elected City Council members and the unelected Joe Edmiston. It does not matter to me or my concerned friends in Malibu if Lou and Joan and our City Attorney conducted themselves precisely to the letter of the law: they may have been able to squeeze that camel through that eye of a needle. It is sufficient in the court of public opinion that the Charmlee Park land swap seems to be very shady and that the entire affair is moving far too quickly with far too little transparency. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, well, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK! THIS BOGUS DEAL IS A STINKY DUCK, PEOPLE!
Cece Stein February 05, 2013 at 12:50 AM
Question: Of the 83 acres at Bluffs Park, 10% of the usable land could accommodate Malibu's desire for some more baseball/soccer fields and a proposed skatepark. How much of the 500 plus acres at Charmlee can be used for ball fields and a skatepark? Probably zero. So does it boil down to swapping campsites at Bluffs for 8 campsites at Charmlee? Somebody's NIMBY ( Not In MyBack Yard ) in exchange for someone else's NIMBY? Even though Malibu has never been ignited from the hundred's of legal campsites in the Santa Monica Mountains, all canyon residents still have that natural fear. As far as the city is concerned, it is true that a case can be made for the value of location, location, location ( Bluffs ) versus a larger quantity of unusable land ( for ballfields ) at Charmlee. Transparency is key. The city council must determine if a vocal minority speaks for a silent majority. Perhaps a thorough dialogue, debate and a vote is needed by Malibu residents to can make informed choices of the pros and cons of the issue with substantiated facts. As much as Joe is demonized by many here in Malibu, he must also be praised for preserving our cherished and pristine mountains from being tarnished by developers.
Hans Laetz February 05, 2013 at 03:14 AM
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. - Sigmund Freud
Malibu Magoo February 05, 2013 at 03:21 AM
So, let's vote. Nothing legal or binding, of course -- that would be expensive. Just designate a day when folks can come down to city hall with a driver's license and say yay or nay. I'm sure Christie will be happy to count. We can argue afterwards if the vote is representative or scientific or whatever. It will certainly be a message to the council, either way.
Cece Stein February 07, 2013 at 02:37 AM
Hans help me out here - we ( Steve and I ) were out of town and haven't had time to ask you this ( with Steve being the more curious of the two of us )... Is the cigar a Cuban?...and is the cigar still smoldering as it is tossed onto the Backbone Trail during high fire danger? For Bill Clinton and Monica, a cigar was not just a cigar. What do you make of that Hans : )


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