Malibu Surfers Contend Legacy Park Project Falls Short Of Environmental Goals

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Long under orders from the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to clean up its coastline, Malibu is eager to begin turning 17 acres of open space on Pacific Coast Highway in the heart of the city into a park that would double as a storm water treatment zone.

Many in the environmental and surfing communities contend that the design for Legacy Park falls short because it does not also provide for treating sewage in the Civic Center area, home to the Malibu Country Mart and Cross Creek Plaza, busy havens for well-heeled shoppers and diners.

Legacy Park “was touted as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a state-of-the-art environmental solution to the city’s water quality problems,” said Joe Melchione, an attorney who heads the Malibu Surfing Assn.’s environmental committee. “It’s time for the city of Malibu to grow up and clean up their own mess.”

And that, Melchione and others say, should include treating sewage along with storm water.

Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen counters that studies showed the Legacy Park site does not lend itself to treating wastewater because it contains relatively impermeable clay. Unlike other, more porous soils, clay keeps wastewater from percolating, or draining, through underground layers. Percolation provides a natural cleansing, as soils absorb viruses, oils, metals, excess nutrients and other pollutants from the water.