The City of Santa Monica held a community workshop Saturday, November 3rd, where they gave an update — and heard ideas from the public — on the new Annenberg Community Beach Club that’s slated to open in early 2009 in Santa Monica.

At the workshop, the community was encouraged to provide thoughts on the project.

Public input will be incorporated into the operational and program plan for the beach club, said Barbara Stinchfield, director of Community and Cultural Services for the City of Santa Monica.

Several more community workshops, which have not yet been scheduled, will allow additional opportunities for residents to provide input and city staff to provide more details on the project.

The Annenberg Community Beach Club — which is currently under construction — is at 415 Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), home of the former Marion Davies Estate, a 5.5-acre beach-front property.

The original estate was built in the late 1920s by publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst for his mistress, actress Marion Davies, when this stretch of the beach was known as the “Gold Coast.”

The beach club will be centered around two historic structures from the original estate that are being completely restored — the Marion Davies guest house (the North House) and the original swimming pool.

The club will also include volleyball courts, a beach playground, a children’s water play area, a snack bar, an events room, meeting rooms, locker rooms, a lounge deck and parking.

The 5.5-acre property is owned by California State Parks, but the City of Santa Monica has entered into a 100-year operation agreement with California State Parks to operate the property as a public beach club.

The city will be responsible for all site improvements, maintenance and operations.

“A very mixed group with a lot of different ideas and opinions” showed up for the workshop, said Stinchfield. “It was really intended to be a brainstorm- ing session, which is really how it turned out.”

Stinchfield said the other purpose of the workshop was “to really get people excited about the project again.”

First, an update on the project was given to attendees by city staff. A question and answer session followed.

Then there was a brainstorming session for participants to express their ideas about how the beach club should be operated. Participants were asked to think creatively about what their “ideal experience” at the club would be like — how they envisioned their “easy day at the beach.”

“It was really, really productive and interesting,” says Stinchfield. “Everyone seemed to be very interested in coming up with ideas and solutions to the way we will operate the beach club.”

Participants expressed concerns about traffic and parking and asked a lot of questions.

Stinchfield said some of the questions included:

“How do you get to the site [car, bus]?

“How do you create incentives so people will use alternatives to cars?

“What would these alternatives be?

“Could there be rentals at the site?

“How long will people stay?

“What kind of cultural events would people like to see?

“What programs will we [the city] have?

and “Do we have it more structured or more spontaneous?”

Stinchfield said there were also questions about how the city would “manage access to the pool area” and “manage the demand for the activities at the site, especially during the summer.”

Another common theme was that people wanted to know how the beach club would be used differently in the summer and winter months, Stinchfield said.

“It was very successful brainstorming,” says Stinchfield. “Some really good ideas — there wasn’t always consensusÖ and that’s what the public process is about.”