Malibu camping accord reached

Overnight stays in some mountain areas would be allowed under a tentative agreement crafted by the city and conservancy.

Source of this article – Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2007

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the city of Malibu have reached a tentative agreement that would encourage more use of the mountains by hikers and campers, officials said late Thursday.

If approved by the Malibu City Council after public hearings, the plan would provide for overnight camping at Corral Canyon and Charmlee Wilderness Park, near the Ventura County border. It would also provide for a shuttle service between parks and beaches.

“We’ve agreed we’ll work together” to open the area up and “make it more accessible,” said Malibu Mayor Ken Kearsley. “Basically, it’s a partnership. All this is going to preserve local control, and we’re all going to stand around singing ‘Kumbaya.’ ”

The tentative settlement, to be presented at a City Council meeting Monday, marks a breakthrough in a long-running dispute over wilderness access.

The conservancy had spent months preparing a plan to allow overnight camping and create more public trails and parking in certain canyons and hillsides. It planned to present the proposal directly to the California Coastal Commission, bypassing the Malibu City Council, which had vowed to oppose it.

Property owners have contended that the proposal would bring traffic and trash and would increase fire danger in the arid hillsides.

Still unsettled is how the conservancy may use its headquarters compound in narrow Ramirez Canyon. Barbra Streisand donated the 22.5-acre haven to the conservancy in 1993, and the state agency’s presence has riled neighbors, including singer Don Henley, along the private, gated road.

Ramirez residents have challenged the conservancy’s holding of weddings and other events at Ramirez Canyon Park, saying they resented the busloads of guests and catering vans. The conservancy has suspended the activities but is seeking permission to resume them. It also wants to allow overnight camping at the park.

Both of those aspects face legal challenges from residents. The city and the conservancy say they plan to continue discussing appropriate uses of the Ramirez site.

Kearsley said that a deed restriction prohibits overnight camping at Charmlee but that the city plans to ask the county to overturn it. The park has a nature center, and the city already offers evening programs there. “It’s a perfect place for it,” Kearsley said. “It is what the area was like when Cabrillo landed.”

Joseph T. Edmiston, the conservancy’s executive director, said: “I think we’re very close, and I’m encouraged by the comments we’ve heard from some key players in Malibu.”

 

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