A controversial plan allowing overnight camping at two sites in Malibu has been introduced by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) led by Joe Edmiston. The lower-cost accommodation public works plan for Ramirez Canyon Park, which already has an existing campground, and Bluffs Park, an open space next to an existing park facility, was revealed during a virtual scoping meeting on October 27.
The plan for Bluffs includes 8-12 yurts that can accommodate 10-12 people each, 16-20 cabin tents that can accommodate 6-8 people, and 18-22 tent sites that can accommodate 6-8 people each. These are presented as “flameless installations”.
Between 30 and 40 parking spaces would be added along with restrooms, picnic areas, an amphitheater, trails, a management office, landscaped coastal viewpoints and interpretive signs. Support facilities would include a ranger’s residence, medical building, office and “flameless kitchen”.
The MRCA says it will have water storage tanks, fire protection systems and provide fuel modification and vegetation management. Development would take place in the northwest part of the park.
For Ramirez Canyon Park, 7-10 tent sites that can accommodate 6-8 people each and two ADA-accessible tents are offered as “flame-free facilities.”
Daytime amenities would include the addition of 36 to 42 parking spaces, landscaping, picnic areas and washrooms.
The MRCA says it plans to improve access to an existing campground that is already licensed by the California Coastal Commission.
The opposition was fierce.
Malibu resident Richard Stutzman commented, “It seems like this project is predetermined. Are you insane? Put camping spaces on the Bluffs. Who in their right mind would camp with the noise of PCH traffic all day and all night? You’re kidding.”
Wade Major said: “Let’s stop using euphemisms. Whenever there is something you want to support; you call it “improvement”. When it’s something you oppose, it’s called ‘development’. Campgrounds do not have amphitheaters or medical buildings. Want alternatives? Don’t. You are going to have huge objections from the community. Abandon this project. Sometimes you just have to take care of the land you have.
Former Malibu City Councilman Rick Mullen questioned the MRCA’s management of the facilities. He said in part, “isn’t their forte.” Were concerned.”
City council candidate Hap Henry said: “I don’t see this as an improvement.” He said he doesn’t hear complaints about the lack of camping in the area. “It sounds hollow to me. What we need is better maintenance of the existing facilities, and we have never experienced this.
A Malibu Road resident identified as Richard said, “This is a very high fire risk area. He mentioned in a previous presentation, “The way you had to protect people from dying was to have dug places to throw people and put a piece of metal over their head so they wouldn’t die. Stop now.”
E. Barry Haldeman said, “This is expected in the worst drought we have ever seen in the Santa Monica Mountains. I don’t know what flameless camping is. The MRCA has a terrible history of maintaining the property it owns. [Especially after the Woolsey Fire], I think there should be 24 hour staff there. Haldeman asked, “who pays for this?”
Christopher Hudson asked what drives the need for more camping. “As someone who lost their home to a fire in Malibu, the idea of camping overnight in Bluffs is sheer madness. We don’t want it. We don’t need it. Don’t do it.
A 77-year-old Ramirez Canyon resident complained about traffic and speeding that “don’t respect the canyon” in his neighborhood next to the proposed expanded campground. He says he was “personally threatened” by drivers. “I don’t feel safe.” He says he spoke to Joe Edmiston after the Woolsey fire in 2018. “I told him camping overnight with campfires is not a good idea. He looked me in the eye and said, ‘Well, we’ll see about that’. I thought that was a really inappropriate statement.
None of the speakers at the meeting were in favor of it.
The meeting was recorded and can be viewed at mrca.ca.gov.
The Notice of Preparation is available for review at the Malibu Library, located at 23519 West Civic Center Way, or mrca.ca.gov.
Written comments will be accepted until December 16:
Mountain Recreation and Conservation Authority
SUBJECT: Malibu Lower Cost Housing Public Works Plan
Attention: Mario Sandoval, Project Manager
26800 Mulholland Highway, Calabasas, CA 91302
Or by email at email@example.com