Malibu Pier

The Malibu Beach Esplanade, a seafront project proposed in the 1980s that would have built a walkway and viewing deck connecting the Malibu Pier to the Adamson Museum and Surfrider Beach, is on the agenda of next week’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.

The commission will consider whether to form a subcommittee to review the project and report back with updated and detailed information on it, according to a city staff report on the item. The committee could then discuss the merits of the project on its own or broaden the discussion and recommendations to include input from other city commissions such as the Public Works Commission or Public Safety Commission, the staff report states.

The Malibu Beach Esplanade Project was originally proposed in the 1980s by resident Ann Ryan, who formed a non-profit corporation to receive grant funding for the project. In 1986, nearly $1 million was promised by various state and local agencies to make the project happen, but it never did, according to a Los Angeles Times article from that period. The project received a $407,000 grant from the state Coastal Conservancy, Los Angeles County authorized $440,000 to underground utilities in the walkway area and the California Department of Parks promised $80,000 for stairs descending from Malibu Pier to the sand, according to the Times article.

The staff report quotes from a 1985 California Coastal Conservancy grant application describing the Malibu Beach Esplanade Project as originally proposed:

The project area will extend from the soon Malibu Pier, west, past Surfrider State Beach, the Adamson House, across the bridge, to the entrance of Malibu State Park. Across Pacific Coast Highway are the Malibu Civic Center/Cross Creek commercial area, and a link to the trails of the Malibu community and serves as a recreational attraction of statewide significance.

The esplanade project will create pedestrian walkways, bikeways, viewing deck, open space environments, trail linkages and beach access; provide a safe linkage of the recreational, cultural and historical resources of the area with the commercial core and civic center of the city of Malibu, and enhance the visual character of Malibu with the utilization of the design elements of landscape, streetscape, physical linkage and design linkage.

Uniform guidelines will be developed in the application of these design elements, with regard to scale, character, proportions, color and materials. This will be carefully monitored in order to maintain visual compatibility within the project area and most importantly, to maintain the unique natural beauty of Malibu.

This project will serve as a focal point for the Malibu community and provide safe access to scenic roadside recreational facilities to both residents and visitors.

The ultimate design for the Esplanade calls for a continuous public promenade forming a loop through central Malibu utilizing Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu Canyon Road, Civic Center Way and Cross Creek Road. This distance will be approximately 3.5 miles, with accompanying bike paths.

The project has both a direct and indirect relationship with the environmental impact of replacing and widening the Malibu Bridge over the Malibu Lagoon on Pacific Coast Highway. The bridge replacement impacted pedestrian access, removed vegetation and affected historic cultural resources. Mitigation was incorporated into that project reducing those impacts. The Esplanade project will permanently enhance the public right-of-way along a heavily used recreational corridor.

The proposed project will cut down on vehicular traffic by providing an inviting bike and walkway to view the Lagoon State Park, Surfrider Beach as well as providing easy access to the Malibu Lagoon from the Cross Creek Shopping Center and other parts of the downtown area.

A hiking trail will link the Malibu Lagoon State Park to an area wide wilderness trail system via the Malibu Canyon coastal slope trail.

(1) comment

Matthew Horns

I like this project because it could enhance nature-oriented recreational opportunities for both visitors and residents. I am a bit concerned, however, about creating easy hiking access up Malibu Creek. The Creek upstream from Serra Retreat has very difficult access. That's where the steelhead trout live. Working in the creek up there, I have many times seen evidence of people illegally fishing for steelhead. It would be a shame if acccess is improved and people abused this access to poach one of the rarest creatures that somewhow continue to thrive in Malibu Creek.

The hike from Serra Retreat to Rindge Dam is grueling, I know because I have done it dozens of times. The scenery and the swimming holes are fantastic. I would like to see more people be able to have that experience, but even more I would like to see the trout protected.

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