La Paz merits study

Staff Writer

One potential Malibu developer is learning the value of patience and realizing just how fragile Malibu is. A Chicago-based company, Malibu La Paz Ranch, LLC, submitted a proposal for the development of a shopping area in Malibu and has been waiting nearly nine years for an answer.

The proposed development would be similar to the Cross Creek shopping plaza, with retail shops, restaurants, office buildings and an area designated for city use. As simple as it sounds, though, the construction of this shopping center is burdened with numerous concerns.

The main issues with the project, discussed during the Sept. 22 Malibu City Council meeting, are concerns about ground water and water treatment. 

The ground water below the civic center area is more than 40 percent septic, and the Malibu City Council is concerned that development could worsen the contamination and spread it to other areas, such as Malibu Lagoon.

Plans for the project have allowed for an area that would include a Malibu City Hall, but the council believes a water treatment plant would better serve Malibu. Some members at the meeting suggested that proposed acreage should be used for this treatment facility.

One version of the proposal would be 99,000 square feet, while another would be 132,000 square feet. The development would be on Civic Center Way near Cross Creek, between the Malibu Library and Papa Jack’s State Park.

The larger project would include the donation of 2.3 acres and $500,000 to Malibu for municipal use. It also is large enough to require special approval from the California Coastal Commission, as well as a city amendment to the Local Coastal Program.

The city is being sued for water quality problems and may be paying legal fees until something can be done about the water, according to the mayor.

Also, does Malibu really need another area of overpriced shopping and dining, with Cross Creek and Malibu Colony so close?

Southern Malibu is running out of room to develop. The Civic Center area is about all that is left when it comes to flat, useable ground. The park across from the library, where the Chili Cook-off has been hosted for the past 27 years, is not yet in jeopardy.

It is comforting to see Malibu carefully study all aspects of construction in the city, particularly issues affecting the fragile local environment.

Many might want a new shopping center because water problems are not immediately visible, but problems will multiply if future growth is not environmentally friendly. 

Water contaminants are mostly produced from restaurants, which already crowd the city. Malibu Colony and Cross Creek Road contain at least ten restaurants, but no adequate treatment facility.

It is no mystery why the proposed development is taking so long to be determined. The issues that are proposed by the project can be hazardous to the community, and something will have to be done in the future. The city council must step up to the plate and prove to the community it is seriously concerned with the Malibu environment.

Submitted 10-02-2008