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Decades Old Malibu Beach Esplanade Project Re-emerges

Little is known about the project, which was first proposed in the 1980s and includes plans for walkways, bikeways and a viewing deck over a 3.5 mile stretch from the Malibu Pier to the Malibu Lagoon.

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.

Terry December 19, 2012 at 02:35 PM
. I have been a malibu resident and surfer for over 50 years and i support a beautification project for surfrider beach. the landscaping, sidewalk area and bathrooms are discussting for world famous surfrider beach. the bathrooms should be more tastfully done. shower drainage needs to be disposed of differently without errosion on the beach. the lifeguard storage garage should not be located where it is and it should be moved to where the other vehicles are stored. there were no hearings or permits for this garage which replaced a storage container. the county planted the poorly chosen non natural trees which also need to be removed. the stairway to the beach was built by some very untallented designers.
Jeff December 19, 2012 at 05:42 PM
You've got to be kidding me. The Malibu 'government' seems intent on ruining everything about Malibu. Pathetic is the nicest phrase I can come up with the way these self-indulgent, overpaid losers. I've watched them for over 20 years in their attempts to turn Malibu into just another cash & trash California beach town. J. Goldberg
Daniel D Hillman MD December 19, 2012 at 06:06 PM
The Esplanade Project definitely enhances Surfrider Beach for all---the public, the disabled (who will now have beach access ramps and bathrooms for the first time in Malibu history), the city of Malibu image, surfers, and residents; a beautiful job of design by Ann Ryan (a longtime neighbor-Malibu resident; the City Council is unanimously supportive--my congratulations to all who made this vision from the 80's happen.
Jessica E. Davis December 19, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Nothing has been approved. The Malibu Parks and Recreation Commission only formed a subcommittee to find out more about the project. It does not have the power to approve anything, only to make a recommendation to the City Council.
M Stanley December 19, 2012 at 07:50 PM
The nonprofit Malibu Beach Esplanade is not active according to online sources, it has a Suspended status and has no income (as of Aug 2012 reports from CA State sources). Hard to imagine any final approvals could have even been encouraged by the City of Malibu for a defunct group outside the governmental regulations established for receipt of governmental funds and donations by public members. Don't know what you're referring to Dr. Hillman, name the city council members that you seem to be referring to as a group approval and please direct us to the documents that back up your statements. Seems that you're implying a few issues that might be Brown Act violations if true, illuminate us all please with your insider knowledge and close contact to the project originator.
R Y A N December 19, 2012 at 09:13 PM
I am NOT Ann Ryan, FYI. Concerns over this ongoing Beach Esplenade have back-burnered it for decades, but it has some merit. The historic Adamson House's brick wall was a controversial issue on widening the Malibu Lagoon Bridge in the early 1990's before it fell in from natural storms (the PCH vehicle bridge -- not the bridges in the lagoon recklessly eliminated by State Parks reckless destruction of Malibu Lagoon itself). Governor Wilson rapidly rebuilt the PCH "Malibu Lagoon" Bridge to previous width under an emergency permit -- sidsestepping Fish Games, Skate Perks, Beach Expletives, or Historical stagnificance.
Daniel D Hillman MD December 20, 2012 at 12:07 AM
OOOPPPSS! Thank you M Stanley (apologies for not knowing your first name but it is apparently not published) --for correcting me; I was so enthusiastic about the Esplanade project that i hastily took unanimous vote of Rec and Parks statement to be a City Council vote --mia culpa.
June Carson December 21, 2012 at 05:46 AM
What a great plan. Let's finally do something for the people of Malibu. We need paths that link our city. Sounds like we might have a real city rather than a bunch of roads and stores. GREAT IDEA - LETS DO IT!! June Carson
BOOGER December 23, 2012 at 08:10 PM
why waste the money? stupid idea... you guys have already ruined the lagoon. cant we just quit while were ahead? first point has been that way for so long. cant we just leave something alone? malibu has never been the type of place for face lifts, but now, all of a sudden, everything needs a face lift. cant we just keep malibu, malibu?
Carla Rowland February 21, 2013 at 03:09 AM
FYI... At Surfrider Beach, First Point more specifically, there is and has been handicap access to the beach, as well as to the bathrooms, for MANY years now. This is just another plan to "beautify" Malibu with more concrete and destruction of what we surfers, lovers and locals who frequent this beach DAILY, love and don't want changed. Those truly unfamiliar with the inner workings of this historically significant and designated "world surfing reserve" should not speak on behalf of those of us who are acutely aware of what is really going on! KEEP MALIBU COUNTRY!!!

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