The Malibu City Council will consider later this month a proposed land swap aimed to help settle a lawsuit between the city and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy over uses in Ramirez Canyon.
The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14 at Malibu City Hall.
At the meeting, the council will provide direction on whether to swap the city’s ownership of Charmlee Park to the SMMC in exchange for city control of all 93 acres of Bluffs Park. The final documents will then be brought back to the city council for a vote at the next meeting.
According to a city staff report dated Dec. 26, Mayor Lou La Monte and Mayor pro Tem Joan House approached SMMC executive director Joe Edmiston “to see whether SMMC and MRCA had any interest in a swap - Charmlee for the rest of Bluffs.”
Edmiston expressed interest in the swap, but also said he wanted “to resolve the Ramirez Canyon Park lawsuit.” In August, an appellate court judge upheld a lower court's rejection of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's plan for overnight camping sites in Malibu. The judge did not provide direction on uses in Ramirez Canyon.
In 2006, the City acquired 10 of the 93 acres of Bluffs Park from the state, but the transfer included a deed restriction that limited the area to park uses, according to a city staff report.
The restrictions include any changes to the parking lot, which is shared by the city and the SMMC.
“The lack of local control recently frustrated the city's consideration of a plan that would re-configure and increase parking at Bluffs Park; the SMMC rejected the proposal to make any changes to the parking lot,” the staff report states.
Malibu has owned Charmlee Wilderness Park since 1998, which consists of more than 532 acres within the Santa Monica Mountains Coastal Slope Environment. Of those 532 acres, about 410 acres are within the city of Malibu boundaries.
The park includes picnic areas and over eight miles of hiking trails, native plant displays, and a nature center, according to the staff report.
Any transfer of ownership would include existing use restrictions, the report states.
The proposed land swap could take some time because it will require action by the state of California. In the meanwhile, the proposal calls for $1-per-year leases.
As part of the swap, the SMMC has agreed to “the exact same restrictions that have been in place since 2007,” including not renting out Ramirez Canyon for private events and parties, the staff report states.
Before these restrictions were in place, the SMMC sought to rent the facility for private events and weddings, which were disruptive to the neighborhood.