The Malibu Parks and Recreation Commission is exploring the Malibu Esplanade Project, a resurrected plan from the 1980s to build a bike path and viewing platforms from the Malibu Pier to the Malibu Lagoon.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the commission voted to form a subcommittee made up of Commissioners Carl Randall, Graeme Clifford and Steve Parks to gather facts about the project and present them at the next meeting.
Bob Stallings, Malibu's Parks and Recreation director, said the project was assigned to the commission by City Manager Jim Thorsen.
Stallings identified the person behind the project as Ann Ryan, an architect with a studio in Malibu. Ryan originally proposed the project in the 1980s when her nonprofit received grants from the California Coastal Conservancy, California Department of Parks and Los Angeles County.
More recently, Ryan made several attempts to solicit grant funds from the city in 2010 and 2011, but none of the requests were funded, according to Stallings.
“She communicated to [Thorsen] and he communicated to me that he would like this commission to get more detailed information,” Stallings said.
The subcommittee and others in the city will meet with the designers and project representatives to find out more about the project.
According to an excerpt from the California Coastal Conservancy grant application, the project area would extend from the Malibu Pier to the entrance of the Malibu Lagoon State Park.
"This entire area forms the center of the Malibu community and serves as a recreational attraction of statewide significance," the application states.
The plans call for 3.5 miles of pedestrian walkways, bikeways, a viewing deck at Surfrider Beach and access to trails in the Santa Monica Mountains and the shops in the Cross Creek area. To accommodate the walkways and bikeways, the project calls for the widening of the Malibu Bridge over the Malibu Lagoon on Pacific Coast Highway, a major undertaking.
Two plans, which are dated from 1992, were displayed in the room at Malibu City Hall during the commission's meeting. One page advertised a “viewing deck and ramp at Surfriders Beach, Malibu.” The other showed a map of a wide, sandy Surfrider Beach, including Pacific Coast Highway, the Adamson House and the Cross Creek area.
The names on the designs are Ann Ryan Design and Dennis Turner, landscape architect.
Stallings said that after finding out the facts about the project, the commission will review the plans and recommend to the City Council whether the project is feasible and if the city should provide any grant money.
“There is a lot of exploratory type work before anything happens with this project,” Stallings said.
Four community members attended the meeting to seek answers about the project.
“I’m opposed to this project as it stands,” Malibu resident Mari Stanley said. Stanley also asked that the Public Works and other city departments review the plans as well.
Wendi Werner said she believes this is the same project that her husband, Steve Dunn, and other surfers fought 20 years ago.
“He says this is not Orange County. This is not Venice Beach,” Werner said.
Both Werner and Stanley said they believe many in Malibu will oppose the project.
Commissioner Ren Smith said he feels the project's 1980s version seems complex and unfeasible.
"I was shocked that someone introduced this after the issue with the lagoon. It doesn’t seem feasible to me. There’s a whole group of people that need to look into it," Smith said.
Malibu Surfrider Beach was dedicated as the first World Surfing Reserve in 2010. In 2009, California State Parks won the Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award for its restoration of the Malibu Pier.