It’s been a long time coming. Ever since Malibu’s last skate park closed in 2011, the city has been promising to replace it, even though the original skate park was on private land and not owned by the city. At last week’s special meeting of city council, council members voted to open a temporary skate park by next spring, followed by a permanent skate park later down the road.

The temporary skate park will be located adjacent to Malibu Bluffs Park on part of the 1.74 acres donated by Crummer Property developer Scott Gillen. This was said to be the most expedient solution to getting a skate park as quickly as possible, because the Crummer Property owners submitted an environmental impact report (EIR) for a 12,500 square foot skate park and parking lot on that very spot back in 2013—which is still good. Having the EIR already in hand saves about a year in getting the park built.

The reason for building a temporary skate park is that the city is currently leasing back part of the 1.74-acre parcel to Gillen’s construction company until 2020—the temporary park would have to be built on the portion not being leased. 

Malibu Community Services Director Jesse Bobbett presented city council with two options for building a temporary skate park, and they decided on the far cheaper “Option B,” which would be similar to the previous Papa Jack’s skate park—an asphalt-paved lot with portable elements, like mini-ramps. The park is estimated to cost between $230,000 and $270,000, and the temporary elements could be sold off or relocated later. The funds will come from the million-dollar designated reserve for this project.

Bobbett described the timeline for the project, saying the city would put out a request for proposal (RFP) in 10 days, to be due by the end of September. The city council would approve the bid in October, and the park would be open sometime between March and May 2020.

As for the permanent park, the city council decided they needed more public input. About 10 members of the public who spoke at the Wednesday afternoon meeting said the 12,500 square foot size of the temporary park would be too small. They cited examples from other local skate parks—the Cove Skatepark in Santa Monica is 21,000 square feet, and Venice and Moorpark each have 16,000-square-foot parks. Etnies Skatepark, a public skatepark in Lake Forest, Calif., is the largest free skatepark in the state, at more than 62,000 square feet.

“Going for a permanent skate park larger than 12,500 square feet could trigger another full EIR,” Bobbett cautioned, adding, “12,500 square feet is considered an appropriate size for a city the size of Malibu.”

“Perfect is the enemy of good,” Suzanne Guldimann, a parks and recreation commissioner, said in her public comment. “The 12,500 square feet is within our reach to get it done before next summer—it’s an opportunity to get something now.”

Some public speakers thought the city should consider some of the other land parcels it owns for the permanent skate park.

One problem encountered is that the city made a deal with the developers to let their construction vehicles enter and leave through the road that goes around Malibu Bluffs Park. 

Gillen commented, “I’m for the skate park, and I’ll give another $100,000 to the park”—on the condition the city puts it somewhere else or waits until his construction project is finished. “I don’t want to see a child get hurt.”

Robert Gold, a former co-owner of the property, was also uneasy about building a skate park in an area where there are ‘hundreds of workers and dozens of trucks, which present a safety hazard to crossing the street.”

A couple of speakers wanted to make sure the city council recognizes how pervasive the skating culture is in Malibu. 

“Ninety percent of the middle schoolers here are skaters,” student Lauren Polito said. “We’re saturated here with skaters.”

Why does the city suddenly seem to be in a hurry to build a skate park after stalling for eight years? And why does a skate park deserve a special city council meeting when the town is still dealing with the aftermath of the Woolsey Fire? Community pressure.

A group of families and “skateboard moms” have been spearheading a campaign for the park since May, applying pressure to get something done. They started Facebook and Instagram accounts, and got enough signatures on a petition to get the matter on the city council agenda on July 8. The moms, including Jodi Gourson and Dajana Mitchell, also contacted city council members and set up meetings with city staff to get the ball rolling. 

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