Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

City Official Contends Campfires Were a Goal of the Conservancy Park Plan from the Beginning

• Planning Chief Says There Are Discrepancies in DEIR

BY BILL KOENEKER


A Malibu municipal official has accused the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy of making campfires a part of the park plan for trails and overnight camping.
“It appears that campfires were always intended to be part of the plan, yet were not acknowledged or analyzed in the Draft Environmental Impact Report,” wrote Vic Peterson, the head of Malibu’s planning and building department, in a scathing comment submitted for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s Draft Environmental Impact Report for its Malibu Parks Public Access Enhancement Plan.
That perceived discrepancy is among several that are cited by the city official as not being analyzed in the DEIR, “which failed to take into account the kinds of activities that are allowed on other SMMC or Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority land.”
“The fact that MRCA Ordinance No. 1-2205 was amended the same day that the plan Initial Study started circulation shows that the uses within the parkland were reasonably foreseeable,” the Peterson comments go on to state.
The city official’s response enumerates a host of activities that also are allowed on MRCA land by special permit issued by the executive officer of the MRCA. They include campfires, alcohol, taking or collecting specimens, fishing, fireworks, off-leash dog areas, off-road vehicles, camping, commercial filming, flight hang gliders and parasailing.
A document footnote reiterates that the MRCA executive officer is the executive director of the SMMC who is Joe Edmiston.
The city has also attached as further evidence a letter from Edmiston about how a special- use-permit campfire “probably with a fire engine in attendance is possible for special occasions (like a weekly interpretative event).”
Peterson added, “It is understandable that the issuance of special use permits will help generate revenue needed to maintain the MRCA’s fire department and administrative offices, as well as fund programs, within Ramirez Canyon Park. It is also understandable why uses such as commercial filming and fireworks in public parkland need to be regulated. However, what is not easily understood is why the additional uses within MRCA were not acknowledged or analyzed in the project description and DEIR given the community’s well-known fire concerns.”
The head planner wrote about other perceived discrepancies with the project description, including that “emergency fire shelters” had not been adequately described and the DEIR fails to direct the reader to the information “buried in Appendix 1 as to the true function of these shelters as a ‘last resort.’”
Also the Malibu planner noted “the fire truck sheds and their intended purpose has not been adequately described in the DEIR, which does not define if they are garages or mini-fire stations, or explain why they are necessary.”
The proposed project, according to Peterson, does not provide a clear breakdown or analysis of impacts on Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas among other discrepancies.

Longtime Point Dume Resident Is Seriously Injured in Canyon Crash

• Son’s Paparazzo Trial Terminated As a Result

BY ANNE SOBLE


Longtime Malibu resident Denise Peak was seriously injured when her vehicle went over the side of Decker Edison Road on Saturday at 11:20 a.m.
According to Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Traffic Sergeant Philip Brooks, for “an unknown reason...the vehicle drove off the road.” Brooks said that stretch of roadway “is so heavily marked with tire skid marks, it may be impossible to completely reconstruct the vehicle’s path.”
Brooks said that the lack of impact to vegetation on the face of the cliff appears to indicate that the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed and launched straight out into the air before it dropped to the canyon bottom.
Peak is the widow of surfing doyen and local community activist Dusty Peak who died last August. She reportedly suffered a broken leg and multiple contusions in the traffic collision.
Brooks said sheriff’s deputies at the scene were “unable to interview [Peak] because of her agitated state after the accident.”
Skylar Peak, the woman’s 25-year-old son, who is one of the defendants in the paparazzo case that was set to be heard by a jury on Monday at the Malibu Courthouse, asked the court for a delay so he could assist his mother.
Judge Larry Mira declared a mistrial the same day. Peak’s attorney Harland Braun said a judge has the discretion to take that action “if overwhelming cause makes it impossible for a defendant to give full attention to trial proceedings.”
Skylar Peak and fellow Point Dume resident John Hildebrand, 31, are accused of battering a paparazzo taking photos of actor Matthew McConaughey while he was surfing at one of the Riviera private beaches in June 2008.
The jury was slated to hear opening statements on the allegations that Peak and Hildebrand threw Richid Altmbareckouhammou into the ocean, seriously injuring him and damaging his photographic equipment, during the videotaped melee that ensued.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney has made the high profile case a priority replete with multiple reschedulings since charges were filed in September 2008, even though misdemeanor cases with defendants who have no priors are often sent to hearing.
The pair are due back in Malibu Superior Court on June 4.

La Paz Project in Civic Center Area Appears Closer to Final Approval

• City Assessment of CCC Modifications of LCPA Next

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Malibu City Council is scheduled at its regular meeting on Monday, April 12, to consider the California Coastal Commission’s modifications to the permits and entitlements for the La Paz commercial office center planned for the Civic Center.
The development agreement, zone changes and other conditions for approving the 100,000- plus-square-foot commercial center have to be approved by the city council and certified by the coastal panel.
The changes sought by the city and the applicant are contained in a Local Coastal Program Amendment.
On March 10, the commission approved modifications to the LCPA, which the city must consider and accept in order to obtain a final decision on La Paz.
The city sought to change the land use and zoning designation of two parcels from Community Commercial to a new proposed designation of Town Center Overlay, or TCO.
The commission, instead, offered modifications to the city’s LCPA, saying it wanted the city to delete its request to remove the CC land use designation from the two parcels to use the new TCO designation and also amend Part C to add specific site regulations and add Part D, the development agreement to another section and show the boundaries of the TCO on a map.
Commission policy states that after the city council acknowledges receipt of the commission resolution of certification, including terms and modifications and agrees to issue the coastal permits, then the council shall accept and agree to any of the commission’s modifications.
After the council takes formal action on the modifications, the matter goes again before the Coastal Commission to review the city’s actions and make a determination whether or not to certify the LCPA.

Council Hopefuls Meet at the Point Dume Club for Another of the Most Forums Ever for an Election

• Mobile Home Community Added Its Site-Specific Questions to the Mix

BY BILL KOENEKER


City council candidates met for another forum at the Point Dume Club mobile home park this past Saturday afternoon for an exchange of questions and answers with local residents.
There were questions specific to the park, such as how the city’s rent control ordinance impacts the two local parks differently, since the Adamson Companies sued the city and the settlement agreement amended the ordinance for the Point Dume Club only.
Much like their counterparts at nearby Paradise Cove, park residents wanted the council hopefuls to promise to uphold the current rent control ordinance and allow no further changes, and sought their assistance in beefing up the powers of the municipal Mobilehome Park Stabilization Commission.
Some of the residents’ questions dealt with issues already addressed in previous forums, such as code enforcement, what council hopefuls could do for the youth of Malibu and how to make the city a safer and better place to raise a family and the fire dangers associated with public overnight camping.
One questioner gave the candidates a chance to take a shot at the current city council and how it has handled the acquisition of the new city hall and the funding for the building’s improvements.
“The city blew it,” said Steve Scheinkman, who said there has to be a way to [both] house 67 employees and make the building available to the rest of the community
His fellow slate member, John Mazza, said the sitting council has tried to rush plans through. “It has been voted on by the present city council. It is unbelievable what they have done,” he said.
“I like the fact we have our own city hall,” said Laura Rosenthal. “I don’t like the $7 million [for improvements]”
Mike Sidley said he thought $7 million is too much to pay for improvements. “We overpaid for it,” he added.
Ed Gillespie said, since the city was the only one taking part in the bidding, it could have put in a lower bid. “Maybe we can stop it,” he said.
Matthew Katz said he went to the council chambers last week to object to the costs and thinks that he was treated badly by some council members. “I am upset at the way they talked to me about it. The answer I got was it was a good buy. I told them to hold back,” he said.
Another questioner wanted to know about why the city pays the sheriff’s department to patrol such beaches as Zuma and Surfrider, but does not share any revenue from the parking.
Sidley explained that the city pays because it has a contract with the sheriff for law enforcement. “The county owns these beaches so we get no revenue. We need to find a way to generate some revenue from those who use city services,” he said.
Rosenthal said the beach patrol is a public safety issue. “I want as many deputies out there as possible,” she said.
Gillespie said when he was president of the Malibu Chamber, there was discussion about taking over Zuma Beach for revenue enhancement, such as concession stands or a visitor center. “We were thinking of it as adding to the city tax base. I would want to talk to [Supervisor] Zev [Yaroslavsky].” he said.
Lou La Monte said, “Why does Malibu pay for the beach patrol? Because the county refused to.” La Monte went on to state that Malibu receives 10 percent of the parking revenues, and it is an issue that could be revisited.
Kofi said that is not enough because the city pays about $500,000 for the beach patrol
Katz said it should be studied further.
Scheinkman said the city needs to spend wisely as well as find ways to generate revenue. He cited as an example the new city hall building, purchased for $15 million, but the costs of borrowing the money and making improvements have caused the costs to rise to $27 million.
John Mazza said it is important to look at the numbers. The state is closing parks and beaches because they are loosing money and owning and operating such kinds of recreational enterprises.
The candidates also appeared at early morning forums sponsored by the local Rotary Club. On March 24, the first forum was held with council hopefuls Harold Greene, Rosenthal, La Monte, Mazza and Scheinkman. The other candidates met with Rotarians March 31.

Q and A with the Malibu City Council Candidates

• Part Two of a Series Exploring Issues in the 2010 Municipal Election

BY BILL KOENEKER


A 25-question survey was distributed to the 10 city council candidates by the Malibu Surfside News. Seven candidates tackled the array of complex local issues and policy questions that were included.
For over a decade and a half the city has been a pay-as-you go municipality. Just over the last several years that has changed and the city has incurred as much as $65 million in debt that it must pay back.
The issue has become a hot button topic for the candidates. They were asked what their position is on the amount of indebtedness incurred by the city to date.
Lou La Monte said, “Presently the city has a Standard and Poor’s AAA rating, one of the highest ratings in the state. We should do nothing to change that. At this time, the rents from the commercial properties on Legacy Park pay the debt service and the city hall debt will be paid in lieu of our present rent. We must maintain the substantial reserves we have now.”
Harold Greene said it has been quite prudent for the city to invest in infrastructure at a time when the economy is circling the drain. “And secure extremely favorable interest rates and pay-back terms,” he said.
Mike Sidley indicated that he thinks that it is a matter of balance. “Debt is not necessarily bad, if you are in a position to properly service that debt and obtain necessary services in return. I previously have expressed my concerns about the city hall and Legacy Park. I think for those two projects, our debt is too great. We have an outstanding wastewater problem with an estimated $56 million dollar price tag to fix it. Because of our current indebtedness, we could be well looking at an inability to take on any additional long term debt for necessary capital improvements in our city,” he said.
Ed Gillespie wrote about how the indebtness acquired by the city council was not mandated by the voters. “Taking this financial route when raising funds for a municipal project does not require a mandate from the voters. However, in this economy the city should be more fiscally conservative. A great deal of money is being spent on Trancas Park and on the improvements to the new city hall. I truly fear the city may be incurring too much debt,” he said.
Steve Scheinkman noted in 2006 the city had zero debt and reserves of more than $12-14 million. “Today, we will soon have debt of $47 million and a reserve of only $8 million. The city council made the decision to incur this additional debt during the most significant economic downturn this country has seen since the great depression. Incurring this amount of debt in this economic environment without a long term financial plan was unwise and could place the city in future financial difficulty,” he said.
John Mazza said all this debt was taken on “in the worst economic time in the last 20 years. Future building operating costs for the new city hall and debt service will strain our budgets in future years.” Mazza indicated that is why experienced financial management and long-range plans are needed to insure the city manages the debt and does not fall into the situation other governments similar to the state. “I have over 30 years experience in financial management and am sure the situation can be successfully addressed,” he said.
Laura Rosenthal said she is always concerned about the financial health of the city, especially during difficult economic times. “I applaud the city for their excellent credit rating. I am comfortable with the debt for Legacy Park, as it is being paid through the commercial rents of the Lumber Yard. I am very glad that the city bought a city hall, as we will now own a far superior building for the same yearly cost as renting a smaller facility. I am concerned, however, in the extra $7 million in bonds for the refurbishment of the new city hall. With the limited information about the design that it is currently available. I believe the $7 million is too much,” she said.
Council hopefuls were also asked about their assessment of the current city council.
Mazza said the council is divided on many issues and some of the council members have engaged “in what I consider inappropriate personal attacks on members of the public and other council members. If elected, Steve Scheinkman and I will work with the other members of the council in a respectful manner, seek solutions that are productive and be considerate of the input we receive from the public.”
La Monte said he would defer. “When I declared my candidacy, I said that I would only discuss the issues. I will not comment on individuals except to thank them for their public service,” he said.
Sidley said he would not comment on individual members of the current council. “There is no question that I have clearly disagreed with this council and their votes on various issues. My disagreements generally stem from my belief that the current council on occasion has demonstrated an inability to make hard, but necessary decisions. I think the current council has on occasion, made hasty decisions that may well haunt us long-term. First, the purchase of city hall. Second, the inability of the current council to address wastewater problems in the Civic Center. Finally, the decision to bail out the developers of the Lumber yard,” he noted.
Rosenthal said she could respond to certain decisions that the council has made or issues they have faced, but would not do an assessment of individual members. “I think that generally, each council member has worked hard for our city and tried to make the most informed decisions possible. I have not always agreed with these decisions, but I respect their attempts to get it right,” she said.
Greene said the council has done its job, albeit with emotional and policy conflicts,” and reach consensus on all important issues that come before them. “Each member has a special area of skills, experience, and all of us have seen responses from them on hot button issues “that have been intemperate and divisive.”
Gillespie said, “Sharon Barovsky and Andy Stern have worked well together and have had several notable accomplishments over the same time they have been in office. Pamela Conley Ulich appears to make her decisions from the heart and has a lot compassion for the families and people of Malibu. John Sibert seems analytical and very often thinks for himself, establishing his own position on an issue. Jefferson has been a real asset to the city council. He does extensive research on an issue that is before him and makes sound and informed decisions. As a group they have not always made popular decisions and maybe not always the right decision for the right reasons but with Pam and Jefferson and John we have a good nucleus and I hope I am given the opportunity to work with them.”
Scheinkman noted that he had respect for each of the council members, for their hard work and what they perceive is the best interest of the city. “Over the last year, it seems that infighting and personal attacks by some council members have become standard fare at our city council meetings. And on occasion, this conduct is extended to citizens who appear before the council to offer a differing point of view. Almost everyone agrees this intolerance for differing views and the negative atmosphere it creates hampers good decision-making. I believe the council can be more productive,” he said.

Publisher’s Notebook

• Spring Has Sprung •

ANNE SOBLE


Imagine the difficulty one has explaining to an eclectic mix of visitors that March weather does not always include bikini temperatures and that the cool and rainy weather gear they trudged with them might not have been for naught. Entangled miserably in jumbled aphorisms, such as March may have come in like a lamb, it’s going to go out like a lion, fell on deaf ears. Sun-glorious March days bordered on wicked for the Lake Woebegone kin.
Even though this season’s rains, however greatly appreciated, were not enough to make a dent in overall drought conditions, they were enough to smooth the way for wonderful wildflowers. The verdant hillsides were showy, but not ostentatious, at least until several days of barely moderate Santa Anas kicked the drying-out process into gear.
This Tuesday’s rainclouds provide a glimmer of hope that some rain this week could put a temporary halt to the drying and the need to start checking the Smokey Bear signs for moderate to high wildfire conditions. As weather forecasters are sounding the death knell, or at least the impotence. of the current El Niño, the possibility of rainfall of respectable proportions tempers the meteorological lament.
While pulling out of the driveway Tuesday morning on my way to the production marathon involved in putting the newspaper to bed, there was sprinkling on my windshield—the kind that marks the glass but isn’t enough to warrant turning on the wipers. What is needed is enough rain to not only wash down our cars, but also soak anything else.
The National Weather Service is holding out the possibility of a few lusty thunderstorms through Thursday that might even give our average precipitation totals a bit of a nudge, but not near what we need. As for the recent beach weather, that could give way to the kind of cold nights that preceded it and kept local furnaces doing what they are supposed to do when the thermometer drops down low.
Whatever the largess from a mid-week storm, the possibility of another soaker from Sunday to Monday is welcome. Forecasters are a lot more iffy about the rainfall prospects from this front, but in times of drought, beggars can’t be choosers.
This year. the general assessment is that the rains may last through April. So there may be several April showers that will produce May flowers, unless some headstrong Santa Anas intervene and decide to produce May dried grasses.
Whatever the state of the clouds, we all have much to celebrate as we sit down at our Easter, Pascua, Passover or Equinox tables laden with spring’s bounty. Revel in the joys of these holidays and celebrate the rebirth that we all can experience when we are in sync with the universe.

Booking Cage Video of Mitrice Richardson Generates New Family Concerns

• Mother Demands Information on Deputy Apparently Leaving Station Right After the Missing Woman

BY ANNE SOBLE’


A series of citywide all-volunteer field searches for the Los Angeles woman who disappeared after a Malibu restaurant incident led to her being booked on two misdemeanor charges at the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station on Sept. 16, 2009, took place last Sunday but produced no new leads.
Mitrice Richardson, 24, a Cal State Fullerton honors graduate, was released from Lost Hills shortly after midnight the next day with no money or cell phone. Her purse was in her impounded car in the Malibu tow yard.
Richardson had been arrested at Geoffrey’s restaurant for not paying a dinner bill. Staff and diners indicated she was acting bizarrely and speaking gibberish.
Several official agency search efforts, including local search and rescue teams, covered areas surrounding the Lost Hills station but there has not been a single clue to her whereabouts.
Latice Sutton, the mother of Mitrice Richardson who agrees with medical assessment that her daughter might have been experiencing a bipolar onset, and a circle of relatives and friends say they are growing impatient with what they see as foot-dragging by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the City of Los Angeles Police Department—the agency in charge of what is still classified as a missing person case six months later.
Last Sunday’s volunteer search teams were in Malibu, Calabasas, Santa Monica, Venice, Hollywood, Skid Row and the South Central area on a sunny afternoon to distribute flyers and ask people if they might have seen the missing woman.
Family members say they continue to be buffeted by a broad spectrum of official views that run the gamut from being told to accept that Richardson is dead—the “she succumbed to the elements” theory—to hearing inferences that she is alive somewhere and does not want to be found.
Latice Sutton speaks out in frustration about the implications of both views, which she thinks are largely devised to get the family to back out of the picture and cease its ongoing efforts to keep Richardson’s name in the spotlight.
On Monday, Sutton, and her close friend and the young woman’s college mentor, psychologist Ronda Hampton, were among the small group shown an approximately two-hour videotape, the existence of which was first adamantly denied by the LASD, but is now reluctantly acknowledged.
In a conference call with the Malibu Surfside News on Tuesday, Sutton contended that the video “supports [my] theory that [sheriff’s] officers could very likely be involved in my daughter’s disappearance.”
She says, “Two minutes after the jailer walked back from letting [Richardson] out the station’s side door, an officer in uniform went outside the station.” Sutton says, “He might have offered her a ride back to her car, but didn’t do that.”
She says her daughter appears stressed in the “booking cage,” the mesh-enclosed holding pen for the booking process. “She clutches at the mesh screening and is rocking side-to-side like a small child.”
Sutton adds, “It looks as if she can’t make the telephone calls that the redacted booking records say she attempted to place to her great grandmother Mildred Harris,” who has told family members she did not receive any calls from Lost Hills the night Richardson was booked.
Sutton says it then seems as if her daughter is seeking assistance from personnel, and “is being ignored.”
Richardson is said to be tugging at strands of her hair. “Clearly something is very wrong,” Hampton assesses. “This is not normal behavior.” At one point, “[Richardson] appears to be trying to get into a fetal position face down on the concrete.”
Another aspect of the viewing that disturbs Sutton is that she says she was told by Lt. Michael Rosson, now the lead LASD investigator on the case, that the reason her daughter had to be taken to Lost Hills was because she had no identification on her, but the booking slip indicates that she had her California’s driver license and it was returned to her after the booking process was completed.
But what the women describe as “sending chills down [their] spines” was something they didn’t see at first that was spotted by Sutton’s nephew, Jonathan Sutton, “Who noticed that as the tape finished rolling and everyone’s attention was focused on Rosson, a uniformed deputy can be seen exiting the station right after Richardson left.”
They asked that the tape be shown again, and those present say, “There is no doubt that is what is on the tape minutes after [Richardson] was released.” Since that is not a routine shift time change for deputies, the women are interpreting this ominously.
Sutton is now aggressively asking that the arresting deputies and all personnel at the Lost Hills station that night and early morning be investigated.
Hampton adds that there appear to be what she calls “blips” in the tape, which she thinks indicate the possibility of editing.
The videographer who accompanied the women to the LASD meeting was not allowed to film the video with his equipment.
Additional information about the case is available on the mother’s website at www.findmitrice.info; the father Michael Richardson’s website at www.bringmitricehome.org; or by contacting Dr. Ronda Hampton at 951-660-8031; or LAPD Homicide Lt. Charles Knolls and Detective Steven Eguchi at 213-486-6900.

City Officials Issue Malibu’s First Geological Variances

BY BILL KOENEKER


An attorney, who represented two property owners in the Las Flores Mesa area, announced that he has won for his clients the first two geology variances approved by the City of Malibu.
Alan Robert Block, in a prepared statement, contended that a strict application of the city’s geotechnical standards on the two properties would result in a taking of the properties and would deprive the owners of the same rights as other owners of lots in the immediate area that were permitted to rebuild fire destroyed homes, in contravention of the geological safety standards, under the interim 1994 Fire Rebuilt Ordinance that expired years ago.
Block successfully argued before the planning commission that the Malibu Local Coastal Plan permitted geology variances if specific findings could be made, including, the granting of the variance would not be detrimental to the public safety or constitute a special privilege to the owners. Some neighbors raised concerns regarding the additional weight and water the proposed residences would have on the geologic conditions of the surrounding neighborhood.
Block responded that was speculation and he pointed out six other property owners had been permitted to rebuild fire destroyed homes in the immediate area under the interim guidelines with similar geology to the properties in question, and that no application to rebuild has ever been denied.
Block also maintained that none of the fire rebuilt properties have had the extensive geologic review and requirements demanded of the applicants under the requested variances.
Block indicated that City Geologist Chris Dean agreed that although the properties had shown some movement intermittently from 1978 to the present date, and even though there was the possibility of future movement that could adversely affect the properties, that there was no likelihood of catastrophic movement that would be hazardous or life-threatening to the subject sites or any off-site properties.
However, the city did require extensive mitigation measures called the Quality Control Maintenance Manual, which is recorded against the property. The QCMM, is described as the first of its kind in the city.
The manual includes information regarding engineering techniques and drainage improvements to minimize project-related impacts, as well as detailed property maintenance and reporting requirements and sets up provisions to follow if the sites display ground movements, cracks, leaks in utility lines.
The manual also includes consequences for the property owners should the site display ground movement multiple times.
QCMM was required as a condition of approvals to ensure that a mechanism is in place to pass the manual from the current property owners to any and all future property owners, according to Block.
None of the surrounding neighbors filed an appeal with the city council, meaning the variances became final last week.

A Scientific Approach to the Urban Wildlife All Around Us

• Two-Legged Carnivores and Four-Legged Carnivores May Share Many Common Concerns

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


Most Malibuites have seen coyotes and bobcats, a lucky few may encounter the shy and reclusive grey fox and fewer still have stories to tell about Malibu’s top predator, the mountain lion. Now a new book offers a look into the private lives of some of the area’s wildest and often misunderstood inhabitants.
“Urban Carnivores: Ecology, Conflict, and Conservation” written by Stanley D. Gehrt, Seth P. D. Riley and Brian L. Cypher, is published by Johns Hopkins University Press. It’s a serious science text with a hefty price tag—$75 retail—but it offers the reader a rare opportunity to learn more about local ecology.
According to the National Park Service, the book is the first to address the topic, and covers the ecology and behavior of well-known urban carnivore species around the world.
Riley, a NPS wildlife ecologist, has spent years conducting Southern California carnivore research, much of it in the local mountains, and a considerable portion of the book focuses on research conducted in Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains, but there are also contributions from scientists who have conducted long-term carnivore studies in other large cities across North America, Great Britain and Europe. In addition to coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions, the book examines raccoons, red foxes, Eurasian badgers, and the endangered San Joaquin kit fox.
Riley discusses the impact that urbanization has on mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes in the Santa Monica Mountains region. The book reportedly provides one of the most comprehensive accounts of wildlife activity in the mountains to date.
“With over half of the world’s population living in urban environments, and a significant number of those living in the Los Angeles region, carnivore interaction is a growing area of research for wildlife managers, conservationists, urban planners, and the public at large,” the press release states.
“‘Urban Carnivores’ will be of particular interest to Southern California residents who are curious about the wildlife of the Santa Monica Mountains, and want an insider’s view of animal activity that is sometimes difficult for the citizen scientist to observe.”
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has been the site of urban carnivore research since 1996. The studies, which used radio collars, satellite positioning, remote wildlife cameras and traditional physical tracking skills to observe the movements of bobcats, coyotes, gray foxes, and mountain lions, have enabled biologists to “document many interesting phenomena that are now presented in Urban Carnivores,” the press release states.
The National Park Service and partners at UCLA and UC Davis are currently studying the relationship between anticoagulant rodenticides and the occurrence of mange by studying bobcats close to urban areas where anticoagulants are most prevalent and also in more rural locations.
Funding for the mountain lion study ended in October, 2009. Radio collars for mountain lions cost approximately $4000 each.
The cost, as well as the labor involved in capturing mountain lions and fitting them with radio collars may mean that the mountain lion study will be significantly reduced in the near future. Some observers have also questioned whether the repeated capture and tranquilization of big cats could potentially have a negative impact on their health and behavior.
The coyote study highlighted in “Urban Carnivores” took place between 1996 and 2003. The study found that despite the highly urbanized setting, coyotes were “still eating mostly natural foods and spending the majority of their time in natural areas.”
Although the study is complete, NPS representatives say they hope to begin “a new study examining human-coyote conflict in urban areas and different ways that land management and wildlife policies can encourage coexistence between coyotes and humans in urban landscapes, with partners such as the City of Los Angeles.
Riley will be speaking about “Urban Carnivores” on April 17 at 12:30 p.m. at Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills as part of the NPS’s first annual Santa Monica Mountains Science Festival.
The Nature of Wildworks will also be at the event with living examples of some of the animals discussed. More information on the free, family-friendly citizen science event is available for review at www.nps.gov/samo.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mobile Home Residents Seek Commitments from Candidates

• Council Hopefuls Are Asked to Oppose Any Efforts at MoHo Park Rezoning to Allow a Hotel

BY BILL KOENEKER


Paradise Cove mobile home park residents are always forthright about getting answers from city council candidates about what they will or won’t do for park residents. They demand promises.
As has been the case at previous park forums, one of the questions asked of eight of the 10 council hopefuls (Jan Swift and Matthew Katz were not present) is whether they would vote to change zoning of the mobile home park if it was sold and the new owner wants to develop a hotel, and would candidates oppose any statewide attempts at decontrol.
John Mazza said it would be important to stop any change in zoning at the beginning. “The mobile home parks are an integral part of our culture,” he said.
Kofi, who indicated that he lived in the Paradise Cove park 12 years ago, said he talked to major Malibu commercial landowner Larry Ellison four days ago about the rumors that he bought the park or is thinking about purchasing it, and said that it’s not true in either case.
Laura Rosenthal said, “Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” She reminded park residents she had already opposed legislation to change mobile home rent control. “This affects my family. It affects my father, who lives in a mobile home park,” she added.
Mike Sidley said it is a much more complicated issue. “The values of the mobile homes are in the millions,” he said. “The landlord is entitled to a return. It is not an easy solution. I would not be in favor of vacancy decontrol,” he added.
Ed Gillespie said, “I would fight for you. I was told David Geffen made an offer of $65 million. Paradise Cove has to be protected. You can’t dig it up. There can’t be a hotel. I would fight vacancy decontrol.”
Steve Scheinkman said he learned about rent control 40 years ago from his grandfather. He said he would not vote for a zoning change. He said what has to be scrutinized is how landlords deal with pass-through costs.
Lou La Monte said he saw no reason to change the zoning. “It is historical,” he said.
Harold Greene said the zoning issue and talk about hotel development is not a new one for park residents.
Questioners took it a step further and wanted candidates to pledge yes-or-no to the question by asking if council hopefuls would resign rather than vote on the change in zoning.
Most said they would resign.
However, Gillespie said he would recuse himself.
Sidley said he would not resign. “What if the residents wanted to change the zoning?” he asked.
Greene asked residents if they wanted a no vote lost, a council member on their side, or one who would resign rather than try to convince other council members to change their votes.
There was also a question about taxes and how the Kissel Company, the owner of the land, would have to pay. Residents rent the land and are exempt from property taxes and school parcel taxes.
Scheinkman said the Kissel Company contributes little to the school district parcel tax, since the park is broken up into just a few parcels.
Rosenthal said Scheinkman is correct on the parcel tax issue. “Kissel could legally pass the tax through if there were lots of parcels,” she added, telling residents they were lucky that there are so few parcels in the park that the school district could tax.
Some of the candidates briefly touched upon a question about whether there is another kind of index that could be used instead of the Consumer Price Index and told the residents they should get Malibu’s Mobilehome Rent Stabilization Commission to meet more often.

Trancas Shopping Center Is Listed for Sale

• Local Partner Hopes to Attract New Investors to Project

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Trancas Country Market, a shopping center that includes proposed expansion plans, is on the market for $20 million, according to one of its owners.
Dan Bercu announced this week the property has been listed so that he can buy out his existing capital partners, keep the property and recapitalize with new investors. He indicated that partner Jim Rosenfield also wants to stay on.
“I have listed the property for sale to accomplish this objective,” he wrote in an email to dozens of supporters.
In an interview with the Malibu Surfside News, Bercu said the property is listed with Coldwell Bank and is for sale for the same amount he and his partners paid for the small center located at the corner of Trancas Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway.
He declined to say how much he has invested in the shopping center. Bercu also is an owner of two other small Malibu centers.
He did say the partnership has spent close to $5 million over the past four years on the investment. Chicago-based La Salle Investments want out because of the costs related to delays, he said.
Bercu in his email attributes those delays to the Malibu West board appeal and Hans Laetz, a neighbor of the shopping center who has appealed center expansion approvals to the California Coastal Commission.
“The Coastal Commission will not hear the appeal until June at the earliest. Laetz has also promised to file another lawsuit should his Coastal appeal be dismissed,” Bercu added.
“As a direct result of the Malibu West board appeal, the [Hans] Laetz appeal, and the Laetz lawsuits, my existing capital partners have ‘had enough.’ The appeals, lawsuit and delays have cost the partnership millions of dollars in losses. The capital partners want ‘out’ and I want to stay ‘in,’” Bercu added.
When asked to comment, Laetz said it is not about him. “It is about the project.” He noted that in the lawyers’ response to his appeal filing at the Coastal Commission, Laetz’s name is mentioned 49 times “I hope the next buyer of Trancas Lagoon does better due diligence than the last purchaser and investigates what can and cannot be built on the two lots straddling a coastal estuary.”
After several false starts and delays by the city’s planning department four years ago, the planning commission approved the project last year after Bercu reduced its size and scope.
Those approvals were appealed by the Malibu West homeowners association, which failed to convince the city council to overturn the commission’s approval.
Laetz has appealed the council’s approvals to the Coastal Commission, which originally scheduled a hearing for March, but it has been postponed.

Council Approves Design Plans for New City Hall

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Malibu City Council on a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich dissenting, approved the final plans for the new City Hall, but not before Mayor Sharon Barovsky apologized for how city officials originally envisioned use of the building and its revenue producing potential.
Council candidates have made an issue out of the ever evolving, changing plans for the new city hall, which municipal officials insisted should also function as a community serving building.
Some candidates have gone as far as to say the city had not done due diligence on assessing the building and its infrastructure, because council members were too busy touting the acquisition of the structure at an outstanding price for $15 million at an auction.
“I apologize. We were working on a set of assumptions, but should not have made those statements,” said Barovsky, referring to some of the initial comments about how the city was going to turn nearly half the building into a money making machine.
Councilmember John Sibert said the firm the city picked are very good at acoustics “and that wasn’t going to work here.”
Sibert said since it was an auction the city was not able to assess the state and quality of the building before it acquired it. “We have new facts. We have a new position. Details arise and can surprise you. We tried to make it serve multiple functions, but number one is a working city hall,” he said.
Those revelations came after public comments when again some council hopefuls took the council to task.
Candidate Harold Greene said there was not enough public input. “This is going to be your city hall not our city hall,” he said.
Council hopeful Matthew Katz said the council should just wait awhile and not spend any more money. He said municipal officials still do not know the cost for eliminating mold which he claimed is throughout the building, and the ultimate price for wastewater and sewage. “There are expenditures that cannot be anticipated,” he added.
That was the reason the council had formed an ad hoc committee to figure out cost saving measures since the estimated figures slowly grew over time. Original estimates placed the cost of improvements under $2 million, but the council was later greeted with a nearly $7 million price tag for improvements.
The architects, who presented the council with the final plan and budget, explained where and how the money would be spent.
To slurry the parking lot was estimated to cost $100,000. There would have to be improvements to meet the ADA code. To implement a water conservation plan will cost $200,000.
The installation of an emergency generator to run the computers and keep the building functional during a disaster or emergency is another $100,000, according to the designers. The cooling tower and boiler are in disrepair and will have to be replaced due to the salt air with marine grade units, 45 new heating pumps are required.
The lighting system required by law, according to the architects, will cost $1 million.
LEEDs certification, to gain a certain environmental rating, will cost another $100,000, which was already approved by the council.
The theater will require reconfiguration and a reduction in size, there will be a new banquet room, the recording studio will be kept intact, there will be an Emergency Operations Center and EOC office, several community rooms and meeting rooms for staff, and an art gallery will be built to make a vestibule for the theater and council chambers.
The council was told plan check submittal starts May 15, approval should come late June, bidding starts in July, construction begins in August with an estimated completion next February and a ribbon cutting in March, 2011.
The building cost $15 million, the Certificates of Participation to finance the acquisition will cost a total of $20 million and the COPs used to finance improvements will cost a total of nearly $7 million.

Trial in Alleged Paparazzo Beating Expected to Start This Week

Two Malibu men charged with scuffling with a paparazzo on a local beach were scheduled to go on trial on Tuesday, but the court date was rescheduled to Wednesday after The Malibu Surfside News went to press.
Philip Hildebrand and Skylar Peak are charged with misdemeanor battery after allegedly shoving a photographer who was taking photos of Malibuite Matthew McConaughey at the surf spot nearly two years ago.
A spokesperson at the Malibu courthouse said there were no jurors n the building when the proceeding was supposed to start and the trial went over to Wednesday when jury selection is scheduled to start.

$1.5 Million MLY Bailout Still Unsigned by Developers

• Critical Candidates Urge Revocation

BY BILL KOENEKER


It has been the hot button issue of the city council campaign. The accusation that developers of the Malibu Lumber Yard received favorable treatment and the city council members demonstrated bad business judgment when they granted an interest-free $1.5 million deferral of the participation rent over 15 years in exchange for connection of a sewer pipeline from the animal hospital to the MLY treatment plant. Both are on city-owned property.
It now turns out the highly controversial agreement that the city council has vehemently supported has never been consummated. City Manager Jim Thorsen confirmed this week that despite it having been in their hands for months, the agreement has not been signed by the developers and returned to the city.
Thorsen said Richard Weintraub and Richard Sperber’s attorneys are still vetting the agreement approved by the council nearly six months ago. “We expect the applicants to sign it,” he added, saying no money has been deferred and the pipeline is not operational. He did not say when signatures are expected.
The revelation came to light when city council candidate Mike Sidley, an attorney, sought to obtain the actual legal documents and determined that the only copies the city could provide were unsigned. It was not clear whether this was a surprise to the council or if members had been kept apprised of the delay.
The accusations resurfaced at this week’s Malibu City Council meeting when Steve Uhring, president of the Malibu Township Council and a political operative for several of the candidates, told council members that most people don’t think this is a good business deal and the bailout casts a cloud over the departing council members.
“That could not be further from the truth,” said outgoing Councilmember Andy Stern. “What has surprised me in the last month is the number of people thanking us. I am proud we are going out in the high light,” he said.
Mayor Sharon Barovsky, who said she recognized the matter has become a campaign issue, said that if the council could not have worked out a deal, “We would have had to close the animal hospital. I don’t think anybody wanted that.”
Thorsen, when asked by the mayor, explained that the wastewater problems at the animal hospital owned by the city and leased out are not the obligation of the tenant but of the city.
Councilmember Jay Wagner, who had insisted on the inclusion of the pipeline exchange in the agreement, said, “We knew one way or the other we had to fix it.”
“And it is not clear we could have put in another system,” said Councilmember John Sibert, because of the impending Civic Center septic prohibition by the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The mayor said the potential costs to the city are far less than the amount of the interest free deferral.

No Election Signage Allowed on Power Poles


• In Penal Code

BY ANNE SOBLE


Malibu City Council campaign signage is starting to be placed on Southern California Edison power poles, prompting a reminder that it is unlawful to post election materials on utility poles.
The utility cites California Penal Code 556.1 and 591, which prohibit posting political placards and leaflets, or any other information or advertisement regarding events, garage sales, or even lost animals, on its property.
The Penal Code states that the misdemeanor offense is punishable by a fine of $500 and a maximum five-year imprisonment.
SCE indicates that the reasoning begind the law is, in part, to protect Edison crews who have to climb the poles from the hazards of nails and other fasteners used to attach the signs.
Similarly, political banners or other advertisements cannot be suspended between one Edison-owned wood pole and another pole, building, or structure.
The penal code sections that apply prohibit any person to place or maintain any sign, picture, or advertisement on the property of another without that party’s expressed permission.

City Council Approves LCP Amendments to Allow 18 Nights of Lighting for Malibu High Sports Events

• Contentious Issue Now Goes before the California Coastal Commission

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


After lengthy public testimony and what was described as a “short, confused and ferocious” debate, the Malibu City Council unanimously approved amendments to the city’s municipal code and Local Coastal Program that open the door for nighttime athletic practices Monday through Thursday until 7:30 p.m. during Pacific Standard Time, which generally begins on the first Sunday of November and ends on the second Sunday of March. The council also approved a maximum of 18 Friday night games ending at 10:30 p.m. during Standard Time. The amendment will now be sent to the California Coastal Commission for approval.
Athletic field lighting at MHS is currently prohibited in the City of Malibu’s LCP and the municipal code. The school property is also subject to a deed restriction prohibiting lighting at the campus that was a requirement imposed by the Coastal Commission as part of a 1999 Coastal Development Permit issued to the school.
Prior to 2009, unpermitted temporary lighting had been in use at the school for a limited number of football and homecoming activities for six years. A district plan, unveiled in 2008 as part of the campus’s Measure BB-funded improvements, that included installation of permanent lights for up to 200-plus nights a year generated public outcry from west Malibu residents, and touched off a series of chain reactions that observers say have polarized the community.
In an apparent effort to circumvent the City of Malibu’s authority and take its request for a night lighting permit directly to the Coastal Commission, the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District Board of Education approved a resolution in 2009 exempting the district from the City of Malibu’s municipal code. However, the district’s attempt to obtain permission for 14 nights of lighting at the Malibu campus was unanimously denied by the coastal agency, on the basis that it violated the LCP.
The district turn-ed to the City of Malibu, to attempt to revise the LCP. The amendment presented to the Malibu City Council on March 23 was developed by city staff, with input from a series of public meetings by the Zoning Ordinance Revision and Code Enforcement Subcommittee and the city planning commission.
“We’ve been working with 16 [nights] for over a year,” Malibu High School senior Hap Henry said. “We’re comfortable with that, the residents are comfortable with that. We want to get it right this time.”
“The Coastal Commission has say whether we like it or not. Let’s be smart about it,” City Council candidate Laura Rosenthal, who has been one of the prime advocates for the lighting plan, said.
City Council candidate Mike Sidley did not agree. It’s not necessary to go to Coastal, Malibu needs lights.” Sidley said. “Temporary lights are not a viable option. They should be used only until a permanent agreement can be reached.”
One Malibu High School student called Malibu Park residents “egotistical” for opposing the lighting plan. A number of Malibu Park residents expressed frustration at what they perceived as a lack of support from their elected officials.
“Not one city council member stood up for residents,” Malibu Township Council president Steve Uhring said. “The residents banded together [to oppose the school district’s plan]. 200 nights are still on the shelf. There is no real protection.”
Mayor Sharon Barovsky blasted opponents of the lighting plan. “The people who drove to Long Beach should be ashamed of themselves,” she said, presumably referring to the Coastal Comm-ission hearing in Oceanside, where the coastal agency unanimously rejected a school district request for 14 nights of lighting after hearing environmental evidence presented by Malibu residents and Sierra Club representatives.
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich also took exception to the environmental impact concerns expressed by some speakers.
“Children are mammals, animals. They should be protected,” she said. It appeared to be the only point she and Barovsky agreed on. Barovsky repeatedly called Conley Ulich to order during the discussion and issued reprimands ranging from telling her “Pam, you aren’t going to get what you want,” to accusing her of “filibustering.”
Conley Ulich argued for eliminating restrictions on the lighting plan. “There are 52 Friday nights,” she said, “What if there’s a new sport in 50 years [that is played on Friday nights]?” she asked.
“I think we need to step back and take a reality check,” Councilmember Jefferson Wagner said. “Most homeowners had no problem with 16 nights. If you make a change, you will invite a CEQA challenge. You will be telling Coastal that you changed your mind at the last minute.”
City Attorney Christi Hogan confirmed that, “in theory,” the LCP amendment as written would be exempt from CEQA. “CEQA comes at the Conditional Use Permit,” she said. “It comes from us.”
“This just came before us tonight,” Councilmember Andy Stern replied. “I don’t think it’s last minute.”
“I’m trying to respect what the community had input on,” Wagner said. “They indicated 16 nights was livable. Acceptable. To change that is going to disrupt.”
After additional discussion, the council agreed to increase the maximum number of Friday nights from 16 to 18. but also to allow for the potentially open-ended use of practice time Monday-Thursday until 7:30 p.m. from November until March.
“No one could complain about that,” Barovsky said. “Oh, I take that back.” “No one could complain about that,” Barovsky said, adding, “Oh, I take that back.”
The council also agreed to eliminate the word “temporary.” Several council members suggested that permanent lighting could potentially have less of an environmental impact than temporary, removable lighting.
As part of the LCP amendment, a Conditional Use Permit would be required before the school district could proceed with a lighting schedule. Any changes to the initial CUP agreement would require a new CUP application. The school district has exempted itself from Malibu municipal code but must comply with the LCP, the council said, allowing the city to maintain local control over lighting use.
The amendment will now be submitted to Coastal for final approval.
“How realistic is it, even if it went full steam ahead, to have an amendment by fall?” queried Councilmember John Sibert.
“The ball moves to the Coastal Commission’s court. We have to pressure Coastal to move,” the city attorney replied.
“This can be a year,” Sibert said.
The city planner stated that the LCP amendment could be included in a package being prepared for submittal to the Coastal Commission in June or July and expressed the hope that the item would be heard at a Southern California venue, and not in Eureka. “I can’t guarantee [that],” she said.
“There are none,” Sibert replied.

Malibu Chamber of Commerce Endorses Two Candidates on April Ballot

• This Is First City Council Race in Which the Group Is Openly ‘Political’

BY ANNE SOBLE


The board of directors of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, which represents the organization’s nearly 650 members, announced that it has endorsed Laura Rosenthal and Steve Scheinkman in the April Malibu City Council race.
Chamber president/CEO Rebekah Evans said this is the first time that “the Chamber took a stand on anything within the City of Malibu, such as candidate endorsements.”
Evans added, “The Chamber is standing up for a leadership role within the business community, [which is] so different than other communities.”
Chamber board of directors chair Scott Wagenseller said, “The Malibu Chamber board of directors decided that Laura Rosenthal and Steve Scheinkman possess a business thoughtfulness and skills to protect and promote the business community in Malibu. Both are team players who we feel could work together with the 650 members to bring about meaningful and effective city-chamber partnerships.”
The Chamber was formed in 1948. Though not formally active in the community incorporation efforts, many of its earlier board members opposed cityhood.
Wagenseller said the current board “decided to take a bold step to bring leadership to the city council that recognizes the importance of local business to the residents and the city.”
He added, “The Chamber must be the voice of reason and reality to make sure that businesses in Malibu, both large and small, are heard. With the economic challenges, we must support our local economy in all ways, and we must have ‘business-minded’ individuals on our city council.”
“Whether our candidates are elected or not, the Malibu Chamber of Commerce will be a vocal participant in community affairs, and we look forward to offering our resources to the Malibu community.” Wagenseller said.

Publisher’s Notebook

• Malibu Beach Access Semantics •

ANNE SOBLE


The issue of public access to private beaches, which are also public by law below the mean high tide line, is always guaranteed to result in lively exchanges. Such is the case again this week as two respondents weigh in on a letter on the subject of access to Broad Beach that ran in the last issue. That letter presented a perspective often forgotten—that of Malibuites who live a street over from the shore or on the land side of Pacific Coast Highway.
This week’s scribes make very similar points in well written letters, but they are quite different in tone. Both explain the Broad Beach protection project now underway in detail, but one does so while acknowledging an appreciation of the potential benefits to both the property owners and the public, which she welcomes as part of the beachfront lifestyle that she has enjoyed for 40 years.
The other letter just as articulately addresses the Broad Beach project but draws lines in the sand. He sees a need to include negative aspects of public presence that local residents have to be protected from. This public behaves improperly because it does not seem to value the beach the same way that those who live there do. This approach emphasizes the “non-public” aspects of Broad Beach and can perpetuate an adversarial perspective.
Which letter sends the more inclusive message to those in Malibu who are not beachfront owners and the rest of the many visitors who claim rightful access to the parts of the sand they own? The same points can be made better when a welcome sign is hung out. Those who are predisposed to judge Malibuites with broad brush strokes are able to see that public and private can and do coexist here, and we are not the selfish elitists we are portrayed to be.
Still, it’s not just an urban myth that there are a few property owners on the beach who have shouted down members of the California Coastal Commission and action groups, such as the Urban Rangers, who want to make the public aware of its beach rights. These residents may be a small minority, but they continue to reinforce the notion of the community’s “keep-out” mentality.
In order to get agency approval for the work that has impacted Pacific Coast Highway, the west end of Zuma Beach, as well as use of the public Broad Beach sand, improved public access has been assured. The era of illegal prohibitive signage, menacing guards and accessway barricades is over.
A part of this saga that doesn’t always receive the recognition that it warrants is that all coastlines are constantly changing. No one knows whether planetary phenomena may ultimately create situations where even the latest technology at any cost will be no match for the forces of nature.

OMG-Like Can U Believe Who Is Co-Producing Malibu High Pilot?

• Local Students Are Filmed and Film Themselves in the Throes of Teen Turmoil

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


A Malibu High School “reality TV” show that is currently in development is expected to begin attracting a lot of attention with the involvement of reality TV personality Heidi Montag, according to the show’s creator and co-executive producer, Malibuite Lexi Vonderlieth.
Montag, who starred in “The Hills,” one of MTV’s most profitable TV shows and made headlines for a recent 10-procedure plastic surgery extravaganza that has earned her the nickname “Malibu Barbie,” is helping to create the Malibu High School show and will co-executive produce.
“As you will see from the picture, Heidi Montag helped create and executively produce this project,” Vonderlieth told the Malibu Surfside News.
The new show, which Vonderlieth says will be “innocent” and not “exploitive” reportedly focuses on the lives of several Malibu High School students.
“We have worked very closely to find the real stories in these kids and create a great show,” Vonderlieth said. “I am excited for people to see the final product, so they see what our vision is, and how fun it is to be a kid in these technological times.”
According to Vonderlieth, 14 hours of footage have been shot for use in a a presentation tape.
“We’re currently in the process of editing our 14 hours of footage,” Vonderlieth told The News. “As you know that can take some time. Our editors are hard at work. We are in discussion and in mid-meetings with two networks in which until things are final, I can’t say much. What I can say about the show is that creatively we have developed a great platform. The show will consist of footage that we shoot with ‘big cameras’ and footage from ‘flip cameras’ that the kids use to film themselves.”
Vonderlieth elaborated on the show’s concept: “The idea behind it is that we as producers will film what we perceive as the kids reality and the kids film their perception of their own reality. This is all in hopes to keep it as real as possible. It’s also an insight into the teenagers’ life that we haven’t seen before.
“The technological advances since I was in high school have changed so much and its amazing to see these kids interact through all the different mediums,” Vonderlieth said. “At night, all these kids ichat, IM, FaceBook, Twitter, and it’s amazing to see the process they go through on a day-to-day basis. Its also more interesting to see how they see it, which is why the ‘flip camera’ works so ideally. They film as they see things.
“The big cameras are necessary to help tell the stories of our cast. I will say that together they make a great show and from what everyone has seen, they are very excited.”

Q and A with the City Council Candidates

• Part One of a Multi-Part Series on the April 2010 Election

BY BILL KOENEKER


A 25-question survey was distributed to the 10 city council candidates by the Malibu Surfside News. Seven candidates tackled the array of complex local issues and policy questions that were included.
Among them, council hopefuls were asked what they thought were the three best decisions and the three worst decisions made by the city council during the last four years.
John Mazza said the council got it right when it fought against the LNG port, fought to acquire Bluffs Park and reversed its decision to allow camping in the mountains.
Mazza gave low marks to the council for originally agreeing to approve overnight camping in the mountains, and entering into a lease agreement for 54 years “with less than one percent per year inflation projection.” He also gave a thumbs down to loaning the Malibu Lumber Yard developers “$1.5 million interest free for 15 years and paying about an additional $800,000 to fund the loan.”
Laura Rosenthal agrees the Bluffs Park acquisition was a smart move by the city council. Rosenthal said Legacy Park was also one of the best decisions. “First it was vital to remove the acreage from development. Secondly, the city can now provide a facility to clean, disinfect and recycle storm water,” she added. She also commended the council for acquiring the new city hall.
On the bottom of her list, Rosenthal said Trancas Park was a bad decision. “I think I would have taken the extra month to study the Goldman plan if it was able to save a substantial amount of money,” she noted.
Rosenthal said she also did not like the $1.5 million deferral deal for MLY. She said the council “has often shirked their duty to seniors, teens and other resident groups” to provide amenities when the opportunity arose.
Lou La Monte said he gave thumbs up to the council for the acquisition and constructions of Legacy Park, starting plans for the Civic Center wastewater plant and leading the fight against the LNG terminal.
La Monte said the three worst decisions: Giving the Malibu Township Council the authority over league play at Trancas Park, not taking the time to look further into the Goldman plan for Trancas Park and not communicating enough with the school district “to avoid controversies, such as the number of night activities at the high school.”
Harold Greene noted the most successful actions of the city council were “realized in their acquisition of land and buildings for our public use and benefits.” He indicated the acquisition of Legacy Park, the new city hall and the acquisition of income properties in the Civic Center all have potential benefit to the city.
Greene’s worst list: “Questionable decisions have been made regarding the extent of public use facilities at Legacy Park, the extent of retrofitting necessary at the new city hall, the lighting at the high school, and the cost and frequency of city involved lawsuits,” he said.
Mike Sidley said the purchase of the new city hall building was the worst, followed by not incorporating a wastewater feature at Legacy Park. “Finally the bailout the developers of the $1.5 million deal got at the Lumber Yard,” he said.
Sidley said on his best list is how the city has demonstrated a commitment to funding public education. “The city council has also shown a commitment to solving our storm water problem. Finally, the city has expressed a willingness to build parks for residents,” he added.
Ed Gillespie said the three best decisions include “appointing me to the planning commission. [That] would have to be number one.” And, he said, the acquisition of the ball fields at Bluffs Park. “It is too early to call the purchase of the Chili Cook-Off site and the new city hall the best decisions that could have been made,” he added.
Gillespie cited the three worst decisions as “the purchase of the Chili Cook-Off site, the new city hall and the bailout of the Lumber Yard.”
Steve Scheinkman listed the council’s best decisions as development of Legacy Park to address pollution, opposing the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to allow overnight camping in the canyons and presenting an alterative plan to the Regional Water Quality Control Board addressing the Civic Center septic prohibition. “That would include the installation of a sewer in the commercial area at the Civic Center,” he said.
Scheinkman said the three worst decisions were agreeing to the $1.5 million bailout at the Lumber Yard, spending $27 million on the purchase of the new city hall without a thorough due diligence and not completely opposing the SMMC’s plan for overnight camping.
Next week, “Q and A with the Candidates” will ask “Who would you most like to see elected to the other seat on the city council?” Some of the answers are predictable as two candidates are running as a slate, but others may be somewhat surprising.
Candidates are also asked what is their first priority if they get elected.

High School Students Quiz City Council Candidates

• Questions Raise Issue of How Kid-Friendly and Family-Oriented Is Malibu’s Planning

BY BILL KOENEKER


The second in a series of candidates forums was held recently at Malibu High School auditorium, where the students quizzed nine of the 10 candidates vying for the two vacant seats on the city council.
Two students from the school’s newspaper, The Malibu Current, posed questions to the candidates who attended. Jan Swift later told the Malibu Surfside News he had suffered a burst appendix and was unable to attend.
Since this was his first forum, Kofi told the sparsely attended meeting about himself. He was born in West Africa, he said, and moved to Malibu 20 years ago. He said he currently lives at the residence of longtime Malibu resident Cher.
Kofi said he has worked with David Foster, the award winning record producer, and helped in the production of music albums with $5 billion in sales.
Kofi said many of Malibu’s wealthiest and well-known residents have contributed millions of dollars to causes outside of Malibu. “They do not want to have anything to do with local politics,” he said.
He said he could be a bridge and direct some of that philanthropy to Malibu. “I am committed to add value to your lives,” he said.
One of the first questions, probably of most interest to the students, but also to residents in Malibu Park, is what position the candidates take on nighttime lighting for student events on the campus.
Mike Sidley said he supported the lights and said the Local Coastal Program Amendment process would ultimately be successful.
“I know the community does not support lights 24/7,” he said.
Matthew Katz, who said he did not think the football team has ever been that good, would appeal to the players and ask them what they would do if they realized how the lights and noise were upsetting families in Malibu Park.
Steve Schienkman said he supported the 16 lighted nights. “I fought to keep the temporary lights,” he said.
Greene said, with the California Coastal Commission vetoing temporary lights, it was up to the LCPA process.
Kofi said the reason the CCC said no to the lights was they would light up the ocean. “I am for the lights,” he said, and said the LCPA process would restore local control to the issue.
John Mazza, who is a planning commissioner, said he helped bring about what is called the “compromise” at the commission table. “Very few people oppose the lights,” he said.
Ed Gillespie, who is the chair of the planning commission, said he was all for the lights. “This town needs to be more kid-friendly. The LCPA is a compromise,” he said.
Laura Rosenthal said her boys played football and Friday night lights are a tradition. “It is a community event,” she said.
Lou La Monte said he was supportive of the compromise. “I want Malibu High School to be a traditional high school,” he said.
Candidates were also asked about what the questioner thought was a lack of youth programs in the city.
Greene said he thought the city was moving forward on that score with Trancas Park under construction and the completion of Las Flores Park. He said funding was available for a nature center at Charmlee Park.
Kofi said he thought the way was to offer more classes such as hip hop classes, digital photo, surf camp, screenwriting and other classes that could teach valuable skills.
Sidley said he thought Malibu is family-friendly. “There are youth sports. We do have a shortage of public tennis courts and playing fields. We have excellent public schools. Support the [parcel] tax,” he said.
Katz said he would advise against putting a teen center near the city hall or other places where there are adults in authority. “There needs to be a teen center,” he said.
“We do need a teen center,” agreed La Monte. He said it is also important to communicate with teens to find out where they want to go.
Mazza said when he was a kid, it was the beach where he and his friends wanted to go. “Let’s find out what they want to do. It has taken twenty years to just build our first sports field. We have to have a plan,” he said.
Gillespie said he also believed that if the teen center was at city hall, the youngsters would not go there. He also agreed with La Monte that a watchful eye is needed to make sure the Crummer Field development agreement does not fall apart if the proposed fields are earmarked for open space.
Rosenthal said that two youth summits recently held had provided much of the information some of the candidates said they needed. “We heard from our teens. We need many more facilities,” she added.

Family of Mitrice Richardson Plans Multi-Area Field Search on Sunday

• LASD Says It Plans to Employ SDSU Drone But Provides No Specifics on When and Where

BY ANNE SOBLE


A series of citywide field searches for the Los Angeles woman who disappeared after a Malibu-based incident resulted in her being booked at the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station last Sept. 16 will take place this Sunday.
The mother of Mitrice Richardson, a 24-year-old honors college graduate who may be bipolar, Latice Sutton, and a circle of relatives and friends plan to send search teams in groups of a half dozen or more to Malibu, Calabasas, Santa Monica,Venice, Hollywood, Skid Row and the South Central area from noon to 4 p.m. on March 28.
Family members describe Sunday’s effort as “the biggest volunteer one-day search yet.”
The group needs more volunteers. Those interested in taking part can visit www.findmitrice.info for contact numbers.
On the law enforcement agency investigation front, Richardson’s mother says she has received an email from Lt. Michael Rosson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Division indicating that there are plans to use the San Diego State University Immersive Visualization Center drone in a separate effort the week of March 29.
Rosson did not respond to telephone messages and emails requesting more specific details.
The drone is a small unmanned aircraft equipped with cameras. The SDSU Viz Center says the drone has the ability to go deep into canyons and can search through dense brush.
The craft, also dubbed the “bird,” can fly lower than a helicopter in difficult terrain and obtain high resolution, close-up images and video.
The drone is credited with discovering lost people and skeletal remains in a number of instances when traditional search efforts failed.
For more information about the status of the Mitrice Richardson case, see Sutton’s website at www.findmitrice.info; the father Michael Richardson’s website at www.bringmitricehome.org; contact Dr. Ronda Hampton at 951-660-8031; or LAPD Homicide Lt. Charles Knolls and Detective Steven Eguchi at 213-486-6900.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Seven Major Candidates Field Queries at MTC Forum

• Voters Have No Shortage of Opportunities to See Contenders for the Two Seats on City Council

BY BILL KOENEKER


A total of three city council candidates forums were scheduled last week, giving the council hopefuls a chance to polish their talking points. At the forums, candidates usually were given two minutes for an introduction and another two minutes to close.
Council hopefuls also were expected to respond to comprehensive questions, sometimes containing three or four subcategories.
By Saturday afternoon at the Malibu Township Council forum at the location of the future city hall, there were just seven of the 10 candidates at the dais and their spiels were well honed. Kofi, Matthew Katz and Jan Swift were absent.
The MTC forum tried to mix up the rigid forum format a bit. The moderator asked a series of yes-or-no “lightning round” questions that were interspersed between a set of essay questions and questions submitted in writing by the audience.
Later, during the forum, rules allowed the candidates to rebut what had been previously said by other candidates. It took a while for council hopefuls to get the hang of it, but by then the event was over.
Candidates were first asked to provide their environmental resumes.
Laura Rosenthal said she got the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters. She said she worked to ensure the Bluffs Park would be used for Malibu, and that she served on the BB oversight committee dedicated to green building on Malibu’s campuses. As a public works commissioner, she studies various issues related to the environment. “I am calling for a gray water ordinance,” she said.
Steve Schiekman cited his commitment to saving Ahmanson Ranch. “We found in it a frog and a flower,” he said, referring to the two endangered species found on the ranch property. He said he has lobbied to stop overnight camping within the city and pushed for the new city hall building to become a model of sustainability.
John Mazza said he had spent hours in front of the city council trying to convince them to follow the environmental rules and regulations to protect tide pools, streams on Point Dume and National Park Service trails
Harold Greene said he has also spoken up against overnight camping and had studied various environmental issues as the vice chair of the view protection task force.
Ed Gillepsie said his credentials include his testimony before various committees and panels against the LNG port and his efforts on clean water.
Lou La Monte said his efforts were more of a grass roots campaign in letter writing. He talked about his efforts to make Malibu green and his support for making sure the new city hall gets LEEDS certification.
Mike Sidley emphasized his endorsement by the League of Conservation Voters. “It is not what we did in the past or where we testified, it’s our vision for clean water for Malibu,” he said.
The candidates were also questioned further about the overnight camping issue, how to ensure that code enforcement becomes a top priority and they engaged in a debate on Malibu Lumber Yard shopping mall issues.

City Mounts PR Campaign in Response to Some Candidates’ Criticism of Finances

• Officials Bristle at Assessment of Lumber Yard Deferral

BY BILL KOENEKER


Apparently feeling bruised by city council campaign rhetoric that has been continually bashing or at least calling into question the city’s financial status and business dealings as a commercial landlord in the Civic Center area, municipal officials are issuing press releases that they say set the record straight.
One of the most talked about and controversial business dealings is an amendment to the Malibu Lumber Yard lease agreement that calls for an interest-free deferral of $1.5 million.
City Manager Jim Thorsen this week put a side-by-side slide comparison of the original agreement and amended deferral agreement on the city’s web site for clarification. Special email versions were sent to the council candidates.
“I believe the information is understandable and as simple as we can make it. We will be posting this to the website today,” wrote Thorsen in the email.
At the same time, the city issued a press release this week stating that municipal officials saved the taxpayers an estimated $1 million in interest payments over 30 years because it hit the market “at such an opportune time and enjoyed such favorable pricing with its latest sales of $6.6 million in Certificates of Participation for the new city hall improvements.”
The announcement was attributed to Mayor Sharon Barovsky, who along with Councilmembers Andy Stern and Pamela Conley Ulich, have been complaining publicly about what is being said by the candidates. Barovsky and Stern are the two members, both are termed out of office, who have been most critical of the candidates’ statements. There are no incumbents running for office.
Stern called some of the accusations completely false, while Barovsky expressed annoyance that the business dealings of the current council were being called into question.
The city manager’s slide show states, “The deferral only becomes effective when the city receives sufficient base rent revenue from the Lumber Yard, animal hospital and former Coldwell Banker sites to meet its annual debt service of $1.3 million,” the explanation states.
The deferral agreement calls for payment of base rent of $925,000 per year to the city with a base rent increase every five years.
What changes, according to city officials, is how the so-called participation rent is paid in the future.
“For subtenant rent revenue in excess of $3.2 million, city will receive 15 percent and lessee will receive 85 percent. Lessee is allowed to receive a deferral amount up to $1.5 million. Lessee is required to pay the city back the full deferred amount based upon a scheduled formula. Payback of deferred amount is conservatively anticipated to begin within eight years. Lessee is required to accept wastewater flow from animal hospital, (Could save the city up to $1 million),” the web chart states.
Some candidates criticized various aspects of the deferral, one saying it should not have been done, another saying it should have had interest attached and others questioned what they considered special treatment of the lessees, Richard Wientraub and Richard Sperber.
Other council hopefuls expressed concerns about the amount of COPS that have been issued on behalf of the city with an estimated total payback cost of $65 million.
Others have zeroed in on the recent amount of COPS to be utilized for the new city hall improvements. Conley Ulich was the lone voice on the council calling into question continuing this method for funding projects.
However, the press release is full of praise for the issuance of more COPs to renovate the 30,000-square-foot building.
“The City of Malibu’s strong credit rating and the investors’ purchase of these COPs reaffirm the city’s diligence in managing its finances and protecting taxpayer funds,” said Barovsky in a prepared statement. “The city council and the staff work together to ensure prudent management of the city’s resources and this shows we are on the right path.”
Before the sale, Stone &Youngberg, the city’s underwriter for the securities, had estimated the city’s annual payments to investors in the COPs would be $480,000 a year. After the sale, the estimated annual payment was reduced to $444,000 per year.
The press release goes on to state, in a previous sale, the city sold nearly $20 million in COPs to purchase the building for the new city hall. These securities sold within an hour and at interest rates low enough to save taxpayers an estimated $3 million over the life of the financing.
The city purchased the new city hall building last year for $15 million and hopes to move into the building next year, when renovations are complete. The ultimate goal of city officials is to give up paying what would be nearly $1 million per year in rent for a financial device that would allow the municipality ownership of the building.

—Ready, Get Set, Vote—

Sample Ballots Are Mailed; Voetrs Are Alerted on Deadline to Register


Malibu City officials have announced that the sample ballots for the April 13 municipal election were mailed the week of March 8. Voters are urged to cheek the sample ballots to confirm their polling location since it may have changed from the last election. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voters who cannot go to the polls in person on election day can fill out the vote-by-mail application found on the back of the sample ballot.
Vote-by-mail applications must be received by the city clerk no later than April 6.
The city’s website also contains a file that can be downloaded for a vote-by-mail application:www.ci.malibu.ca.us/download/index.cfm/fuseaction/download/cid/14900/)
The last day to register to vote in the election is March 29.

Publisher’s Notebook

• Less Than a Month to Go •

ANNE SOBLE


Email and letter hit pieces in the Malibu City Council race have begun to circulate everywhere in Malibu that they can gain a foothold. Even the Malibu High School information website was temporarily highjacked for electioneering despite an avowal of objectivity when it comes to elections other than school board measures, which are supported with unbridled fervor and may make the ban on political endorsements ring somewhat hollow as council candidate views on these measures might be fair game.
Rather than debate what is or isn’t allowed where, it might be more appropriate to be concerned that those who craft and disseminate these political attacks choose to hide their identity. Even when there are signatures, it usually turns out that no one with that name is either a registered voters, a local resident or the parent of a child in Malibu schools. This anonymity extends to their real objectives.
Malibu municipal elections seem to have more than their share of cloak-and-daggering because it serves someone’s interests to give them an airing. That is why The News refuses to print personal attack letters—often duplicative in wording and style—that only serve to cloud the public policy issues that should be what differentiates candidates and drives decision-making at the polls.
Ironically, the supporters of candidates who engage in personal attacks are admitting that they don’t think their own candidate can win on merit. They believe they have to bring down perceived front-runners with what political insiders often refer to as “dirty tricks.” What these tricksters are actually saying is their candidate is less qualified. This is why it is important to learn not only who the tricksters are, but which candidates are perceived to need these tactics.
Malibuites also should make it clear that attack politics based on misrepresentation and mean-spiritedness do not have a place in the community. That doesn’t mean that politics won’t have its share of rough and tumble. After all, the stakes in Malibu are high. With a little less than four weeks before the April 13 election, the insecure and the less qualified will no doubt plan many more onslaughts. Whether they succeed will depend on voters deciding to focus on what the candidates’ positions are on the issues that matter most to them.
Malibu is already the poster child for so many wrong reasons in the “outside” world that an inability to conduct an intelligent political campaign based on substantive public policy issues doesn’t need to be added to the list. Being a good citizen takes effort, but if the results are elected officials who do their job openly and fairly, it’s worth it.

County Supervisor Announces Plans for Proposed SMC Satellite Campus in the Civic Center Complex

• Event Becomes Update on Brokering of Deal that Meets Sheriff’s Needs

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Malibu Chamber of Commerce’s “State of the City” function last week produced some breaking news, when Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky announced that a tentative deal has been reached for the county-owned former sheriff’s substation space in Malibu, long coveted for the future home of a satellite campus of Santa Monica College.
“We will lease the property, not sell it, and the college will have its classrooms and the sheriff will have use in an emergency during floods or fires of an emergency operations incident command center,” said Yaroslavsky.
“We want to make room for the college and figure out what the sheriff needs. I met with [Sheriff Lee] Baca and will meet with the college president.”
The supervisor, who is seeking reelection in June, recalled Baca wanted the entire building for an EOC training center. “That is not necessary here. We have our EOC in East Los Angeles,” the supervisor said.
Yaroslavsky said a classroom would be set aside and would be designed to be convertible or reversible into an EOC.
“They will slide a wall open for that. Baca loved the idea. I love the idea. The college has signed off. I have signed off on the concept. The devil is in the details and it is subject to approval of the Board of Supervisors. I don’t think that will be a problem. And subject to the board of the college district,” the third district supervisor said.
Yaroslavsky said that although the proposal is still tentative, he wanted to announce it while he was in Malibu. “That is kind of a new development,” he said.
Aware of the upcoming city council elections, Yaroslvasky said he hopes the incoming city council would honor the work that has already been done on creating a satellite campus.
Malibu voters have already approved a bond measure that earmarks $25 million for such a project.
The supervisor praised outgoing Mayor Sharon Barovsky and Councilmember Andy Stern, describing them as “class acts” who serve for what they can do for the community. “That is the sad thing about term limits, when people are at the top of their game,” he said.
Yaroslavsky also discussed the state of the county and how its budget has been impacted by the economy. “The county is stressed fiscally, but once the economy comes back,” the supervisor said that the outlook will improve.
He said county spending has been within its means, but state mandated programs, which the state formally paid for and now has withdrawn funding, has had the most impact on the county’s budget.
Afterward, Barovsky delivered her state of the city address. The mayor said it was not just the current city council that should be praised for projects now coming to fruition.
“It is easy to list accomplish that much without the help of previous councils,” she said.
The mayor praised those council members and said much of what was happening now would never have gotten off the ground.
She also noted the acquisition and development of new parks would never have happened without the municipal staff.
“Malibu is lot like Hollywood. It is about, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ In the sprit of Hollywood, I will tell you what we have done,” she said.
The mayor spoke about Legacy Park, which is the linchpin accomplishment. Other self-plaudits include the development of Las Flores Park, the completion of the Cross Creek Road improvements, the acquisition of Bluffs Park, the completed draft of the Environmental Impact Report for the Rambla Pacifico slide improvements, the creation of Trancas Park, and the upcoming remodeling of the public library.

Caregiver Walking to Bus Stop Dies after Being Hit by As Many as Eight Vehicles near Paradise Cove

• Sheriff’s Department Requests Aid of Witnesses and Other Drivers

BY ANNE SOBLE

Daylight saving times might have been a factor in a traffic fatality on Pacific Coast Highway Monday morning, as the extra hour of early darkness meant two sisters who worked overnight shifts as caregivers for a Malibu resident had to catch the bus to go home before sunrise.Amelia Ordona, 74, was reportedly killed on impact after being hit by one westbound car, then was hit repeatedly by as many as another seven vehicles, as she attempted to walk across the highway to the bus stop at Paradise Cove.The Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station reports that Ordona was hit first by a 2006 Honda Accord driven by Jay McNamara, 48, of Los Angeles, at about 6:25 a.m.That impact “catapulted” the woman’s body into the eastbound lanes of PCH where she was hit by other vehicles, some of which reportedly kept going.Ordona’s 67-year-old sister, Amparo Pabalan, was also hit and sustained injuries that are described as “not considered serious,” according to the official accident update.A Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department investigation is still underway but no one has been cited, and the expectation is that no culpability would be determined due “to the lighting, dark clothing [of the victims], and roadway conditions” noted in the statement by Lt. Scott Chew.The two women are downtown residents and the specifics of Ordona’s death are starting to be detailed in media in the Southland Filipino community. The sisters are from Panay and have numerous family members in the area.Some of their relatives have begun to publicly express concern that no one has been determined to be responsible in connection with Ordona’s death.These family members are reported to be discussing possible legal action and questioning how the drivers could be absolved of culpability, inquiring why one fatality is determined to be an accident and another becomes a case of vehicular manslaughter.PCH was closed between Kanan Dume Road and Winding Way for five hours on Monday while the field investigation was conducted. The road was reopened at 11:30 a.m.The Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station requests that anyone who might have witnessed the incident or unknowingly struck Ordona in the eastbound lanes contact LASD Traffic Investigator Vanessa Barnard at 818-878-5559.

Point Dume Residents Grill City Council Candidates

• Look at View Protection Action, Ban on Overnight Camping and Municipal Finances

BY BILL KOENEKER


Attendees at last week’s Point Dume Community Association candidates forum were fewer in number than previous years, but that could be because dues paying members have fallen off nearly by half from last year, according to board members.
There are 900 families on the Point. Last year there were 112 dues paying members, with the number down to 63 so far this year.
The first question of the night was about the proposed view preservation ordinance. The question was specific. What are the three most important points of the proposed view protection ordinance?
Gillespie said he would go along with the majority view of the task force that looked into the matter. He said the important points are when the view is established which should be when the house was purchased. The privacy issue is important and who pays for cutting down the trees blocking the views, he added.
Greene, who was a member of the task force, said he had helped write much of the proposed ordinance and had gotten started when he was hired by the Malibu Country Estates homeowners association to help create a pilot for possible citywide implementation.
Lou La Monte, who had been a minority member of the task force, said, “I’m completely in favor of a view ordinance. The reason I was not in favor of the [proposed] view ordinance is because of what was in it.”
John Mazza said the issue was a matter of when nearly two-thirds of the people voted on an advisory measure. “The majority [task force] said you could restore the views. We did not have to have a minority report. The minority said the view starts when the law goes into effect,” he said. Mazza charged the minority [task force] was trying to kill the measure. “They didn’t want it,” he said.
Laura Rosenthal said she was in favor of restoration. She said the start time for the ordinance should be when the house was purchased. “I lost my view. I want to get my ocean view back,” she added. “The reason we became a city is to encourage neighbors to negotiate.” The three important points she said is to restore and preserve views. Determine when the time of restoration starts, when you buy the house, and the need to balance privacy rights she said.
Steve Scheinkman said he thought view protection should start at the time the house was last purchased. He said he did not understand about a potential provision sought by some to have the costs added for the value of the trees.
Sidley said the three most important points of the view ordinance is if the law is constitutional. “The task force came up with an ordinance that will pass muster if it is affordable, reasonable and well thought out,” he said, “It is the cornerstone of my campaign. A good law should be enacted,” he added.
Matthew Katz said, “As long as you pay taxes, you should be able to do whatever you want on your property. Just be neighborly. I did that. Those eucalyptus. They are no good. Cut them down.”
Point Dume folks also wanted to know how the issuance of Certificates of Participation would impact the city or how such “debt” would impact the city.
Mazza said it is something to be considered. “All debt after all is debt. We went from no debt to debt. The debt will affect our credit rating. We need to plan,” he said.
“I have a different sense of it,” said Rosenthal. “I am glad we bought the city hall building. We are paying $800,000 per year for rent [on current city hall] In 30 years we will own it. We have a triple A rating. The city is in great shape,” she said.
Scheinkman said the city is in good financial shape at the moment, but is concerned about the long term. “We need a long-term plan,” he said, adding the debt expense on the new city hall will go up $1 million and city officials have to find a way for the residents not just 65 staff members to enjoy use of the new city hall building.
Sidley said, “I am very concerned about the $45 million of debt. He said developers of the Lumber Yard asked for a $1.5 million deferral in rent. “What if they want to defer the base rent?” he asked.
Gillespie said, “These are debts. Taken on without a voter mandate. The COPs are based on leases. I don’t know. We need to put $3 million into Trancas Park. We need to step back and look at our fiscal situation,” he added.
La Monte said none of the taxpayers are paying for the purchase of the Chili Cook off site or the new city hall and Malibu needs a city-owned city hall. “The rent is getting paid. Do we want to be a 20 year old and still live-in with mother? City Hall, we will own it. I am proud to have our new city hall,” he said.
Greene said what folks were hearing was not completely fact-driven and some of the rhetoric was based on getting an emotional reaction. “Our Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky praised our Triple A rating,” he added.
Katz said the Lumber Yard deal is a terrible deal and so is the city hall purchase. “We should sell it and move city hall to the Lumber Yard,” he said.
Council hopefuls were also asked their views on the overnight camping issue proposed by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
Sidley said, “I would not put camping thee. But it is not my decision.the own the property. I think they have the rights on their property. Make sure there are no campfires.”
Scheinkman said he has been a camper and has climbed the 44 mountains in New York. There is no way anybody can enforce a law [outlawing campfires]. I opposed this from day one. I’m not a lawyer, but I encouraged the city to file a lawsuit. With public safety there is no compromise,” he added.
Rosenthal said she had grave concerns. “Campfires are synonymous with camping,” she said, adding, “We need a new partnership for these outside agencies,” he said, suggesting that maybe matching funds could be put together to pay for rangers
Mazza said it is a public safety issue. “We should not allow it. We can win, if we get organized,” he said. “I don’t know how we are going to do it. If camping is allowed there will be a fire.”
La Monte noted that camping in residential neighborhoods do not mix. “It is a very bad idea,” he said, adding the Conservancy has managed to disturb almost every community in Malibu.
Katz said the state won’t spend money on rangers. He suggested the city charge park fees so exorbitant to be unaffordable. “Let’s price them out of here. If they call us elitists, maybe we should behave that way,” he noted.
Greene said the philosophy forced upon Malibu is “Public use trumps private rights.” Greene went on to say, “We need to deal with Joe Edmiston to make a compromise.” He said camping would be safer at Bluffs Park and there is more space.
Gillespie said, “It is sad. Malibu has no power. They can force this issue on us. How can we address it?” Gillespie said he is meeting with former Governor Gray Davis on such issues. “He tells me he has close ties with Joe,” he added.
The candidates were also asked about the difficulty of Malibuites getting elected to the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District board.
Some candidates said it is a matter of getting Malibuites to run for office. None did this past election. Others said even so, it points to an uneven playing field.
Council hopefuls were also questioned about.
Another question was about what the candidates would do differently to attract resident-serving businesses to the area. Some said set up special districts or offer tax abatements, others suggested the city owns commercial property and could rent it out to local businesses.
Council hopefuls were also quizzed about the proposed reserves planned along the coastline and if they supported the inclusion of Point Dume as it is mapped. Most supported the mapping, one candidate knew nothing about the issue, others expressed doubtfulness about the fairness of the process.