The county's hotly disputed plan for a recreational vehicle park at Zuma Beach is likely to be abandoned because of opposition from the Sheriff's Department over anticipated parking problems, noise and traffic hazards that would be generated by the project, county officials have said.
Ted Reed, director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, said his office probably will not proceed with the plan because of the response from local law-enforcement agencies.
Sheriff's Capt. Tom Schmidt, who is based in Malibu, said he opposed the plan--which is also opposed by nearly 1,000 residents who signed petitions against it--because the park would create law-enforcement problems that would mean "a significant new cost" to his department.
Homeowner groups and the Malibu PTA have strenuously opposed the park, saying it would encourage drinking on the beach, exacerbate the area's summertime parking problems and tempt schoolchildren to cross busy Pacific Coast Highway to shop at the park's proposed convenience store.
Cost vs. Revenue
The county, which sought bids for development of the year-round overnight park last October, said the 135-vehicle facility would generate $66,000 in revenue for the Department of Beaches and Harbors. But Schmidt said the costs of policing the park could eat up those revenues.
He said recreational-vehicle parks create numerous problems, including "people taking things from each other, people who are noisy next to people who are sleeping and people who wander through another person's camping area."
He disputed claims by county officials that the park would enhance the beach and make the area more tranquil, saying that nighttime noise from campsites could easily disrupt nearby neighborhoods.
But Schmidt said the biggest problem would be congestion and unsafe conditions caused by the removal of 400 or 500 of the county's 2,100 pay parking spaces at Zuma Beach to make way for the park.
"Those cars will end up parking on local streets, illegally on corners and in yards, or people will drive farther up PCH and then walk back, carrying things like beach chairs and ice chests right alongside a busy highway," Schmidt said. "That means additional calls for enforcement from residents out there who want us to solve their parking problems."
The California Highway Patrol also raised questions about the project's effect on safety problems that arise during the summer when visitors run across the highway to their cars.
Schmidt said he was also concerned that "almost everyone would drink inside their (recreational) vehicles and this would carry over onto the beach."
He cited county lifeguard statistics that show a high percentage of drowning victims had been drinking or using drugs.
Residents said they will throw a victory party Friday to wind up their campaign against the project.
"We have the unofficial word that the county is dropping the plan, and there is tremendous relief out here," said Carol Kivo, a spokeswoman for the Malibu Park Homeowners Assn.
Hundreds of residents had donated money to hire an attorney and an environmental planning consultant who challenged the merits of the project. In addition, residents had spearheaded a letter-writing protest and had submitted nearly 1,000 signed petitions against the project.
'We Definitely Understand'
"We would like to feel that people power had some influence in the county's decision, but we definitely understand that the response from the county's agencies was a part of the project's falling through," she said.
Residents have complained that they knew nothing about the project when the County Board of Supervisors voted to advertise for bids to construct the park last October.
Kivo said that because of their experience, "We are going to be very aware and vigilant on this kind of thing in the future, now that we know . . . that a project can go that far without the community knowing about it."