After hearing opposition from Malibu residents and surfers, the Malibu Parks and Recreation Commission voted against further exploration of a plan to bring a viewing platform to Surfrider Beach.
In a 4-0 vote, with Commissioners Steve Parks and Ren Smith absent, the commission voted to put the project to rest and not recommend it to the Malibu City Council.
"It's a lovely idea, but it's an old idea," Commissioner Justine Petretti said of the plan that was resurrected from the 1980s. "... It's salt on the wound of the [Malibu] Lagoon Project. I think that right now the waters are starting to calm. I would not like to rev it all up again."
The Malibu Parks and Recreation Commission was tasked by Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen with considering the first phase of the project, which included a viewing deck at Surfrider Beach. Other phases include walking paths along Pacific Coast Highway.
The project designer, Ann Ryan of Malibu, did not attend the meeting on a rainy Tuesday night at Malibu City Hall as expected.
In order to move forward, officials from the state of California, Los Angeles County and Caltrans would have needed to be on board for the project to move forward.
Malibu residents and surfers who attended the meeting brought up public safety and environmental concerns during public comment.
"This is ... turning Malibu into a Huntington Beach. I want to keep Malibu the way it is," said Andy Lyon, a Malibu surfer and former city council candidate.
John Hinkle of the Malibu Surfing Association also opposed the project.
"We’ve lost a lot of sand through that area," Hinkle said. "I think this project on that alone is a bad concept.”
Hinkle said he is for a beautification project at Surfrider Beach, but that the Esplanade Project is not it.
Malibu Public Safety Commissioner Carol Randall also spoke during public comment and expressed her fears about the impacts to drivers on Pacific Coast Highway.
"Our big thing on Pacific Coast Highway is distraction. That’s a major problem for the drivers. That would worry me a lot about this project," Randall said. "We have a viewing place. It’s called Malibu Pier. That’s where people go to look at the surfers. The Pier needs some help."
Malibu Parks and Recreation Director Bob Stallings said there would first have to be agreements between state of California, Los Angeles County and Caltrans, and then "work on community acceptance."
"The city owns no part of this property," Stallings said, adding that the project would be competing with others for resources within the city.
Malibu Public Works Director Bob Brager said he estimated the project would cost an estimated $6.5 to $10 million.
"This is 20-year-old project. There are Caltrans standards that have been updated. There are county standards that have been updated. It’s not a project that you can take the plans now and build it," Brager said.
Before the vote, Commissioner Lauri Principe said she opposed the project.
"I feel like the people of Malibu are against it. I don’t think we need to worry about the tourists coming in," Principe said.
Commissioner Carl Randall said he felt the project was for visitors, not residents.
"I haven’t had any citizens come to me saying this is what I’m looking forward to," Randall said.