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Plans for Malibu Equestrian Center Approved by State, School District


The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and the California Coastal Commission have given the go-ahead to plans for an equestrian center in Malibu.

The equestrian park, which will be on leased school district property near Point Dume, will be developed and operated by the county Department of Parks and Recreation. Two horse arenas, a multipurpose field and other facilities will be built on half of the 20-acre site, and the other half will remain vacant.

The school board on Tuesday unanimously approved a master plan for the park that included several revisions it had previously demanded, including provisions for boundary fencing and limits on the loudness of a public-address system.

On Wednesday, the California Coastal Commission approved the project, subject to certain conditions, said county landscape architect Larry Hensley, who is guiding the project through the approval process. Those conditions include controls on erosion during construction, commission review of final landscaping and parking lot plans, and commission approval of a trail that will link the park to a proposed horse trail that would run to the Zuma Ridge Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Hensley said. The commission also set construction time schedules, he said.

Construction is expected to start early next year and be completed by mid-1992, Hensley said.

The project has been studied and changed by several governmental agencies since 1981, when the county, the school district and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy agreed to develop the land for recreational use. The county originally wanted an all-purpose park with baseball diamonds, but that idea was later thrown out partly because it would have required extensive excavation and grading. County officials have also said the site is ideal for an equestrian center because hundreds of horse owners live within a few miles.

It has taken eight years to get to this stage, Hensley said, because "you have public agencies working together, and they're each trying to satisfy the part of the population they serve the most . . . (and they) have other things to do. . . . It's just a fact of life in this day and age."

The first phase of the project, estimated to cost $1.4 million, will entail grading, landscaping, installation of water and electrical utilities, and construction of two arenas and a children's play area.

The second phase, which doesn't yet have a cost estimate, will include terraced spectator seating, a community center and a graded multipurpose field, Hensley said.

The park, which will be open from dawn to dusk, will have enough parking for 50 cars and 55 vehicles with horse trailers.

Hensley said the thumbs up by the district and the commission were a relief. "Any time you get any portion of a project completed, you feel you can see more of a glimmer at the end of the tunnel."

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