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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New City Council Is Installed and Mayoral Gavel Rotated

BY BILL KOENEKER


The two top vote-getters in the April 13 election, Laura Rosenthal and Lou La Monte, took their seats at the Malibu City Council dais Monday night, ushering in what was described as the beginning of a new era, as longtime Councilmembers Sharon Barovsky and Andy Stern vacated their seats.
Barovsky served 10 years on the council and Stern held on to his seat for eight years.
Subsequent to the oath of office given to the two newly elected council members, the eleventh city council confirmed Councilmember Jefferson Wagner as mayor, a largely ceremonial role in the City of Malibu. Councilmember John Sibert, next in rotation, was named mayor pro tem.
During her incoming remarks, Rosenthal said Malibu is a remarkable community of talented and skilled individuals she hopes to utilize as volunteers. “They will become the solution team and work on special projects. I will expect many volunteers. Many of you don’t know it [yet], but you will be volunteers,” the new council member said.
Rosenthal indicated that her time in office would be characterized by a list of traits. “Work hard, listen, compromise, collaborate, laugh, cajole and staying respectful,” she said.
Rosenthal said she is proud that she represents what she called “the family vote,” adding that [families] are a force. “We are to be counted. We will be respected,” she said, before noting that she will nevertheless represent everyone in Malibu.
During his comments, La Monte thanked his family and campaign workers, then praised Barovsky and Stern, who supported his candidacy as well as Rosenthal’s. “Sharon has been the heart and soul of Malibu,” he said.
La Monte promised to bring back the California Highway Patrol for traffic law enforcement on Pacific Coast Highway.
He also quipped that he would spend the next four years trying to eradicate what he had heard on the campaign trail in western Malibu,“Lou who?”
Earlier in the evening, the outgoing city council members talked about how they viewed their time on the council as they left office.
Stern asked the audience to imagine a time 20 years in the future, if he and the other council members had not taken the actions they did.
“There would be weeds in Bluffs Park. Bluffs Park is for the kids,” he said. The chili cook-off site would be in the throes of controversy with some big developer trying to construct a huge shopping mall, Stern added.
“There would be faint lights on the horizon,” he noted next, from an LNG port. Stern said “Malibu was the first government agency to stop” Cabrillo Port.
“The point is we made a difference. The truth is simple to say, we snapped our fingers and the staff makes it happen,” he said. He praised City Attorney Christi Hogin. “She was essential to our success. We could not have had this success without you,” he added.
Stern likened City Manager Jim Thorsen to a symphony conductor. “He makes it all work together. It is the best decision of my life hiring Jim Thorsen,” he said.
Stern concluded his remarks with, “Every year, every month, every week, every day, I tried my best for all of you.”
Barovsky referred to her late husband Harry, a former city council member, who passed away while in office. “My husband had made it clear, get elected and follow orders. There will be three of us leaving. Andy, me and Harry,” she said.
Barovsky said much of the credit of what has happened can be attributed to previous councils.
The outgoing council member had some advice for her colleagues. “My advice: keep a sense of humor. Grow a thick skin. Always, always vote your conscience,” she said.

Hearing Set on Crummer Trust LCPA

• CCC Has Indicated Ball Fields Are Out of Bounds

BY BILL KOENEKER


The newly organized Malibu City Council will have its chance to sound off on the California Coastal Commission’s action to scuttle ball fields as part of a development agreement at its meeting scheduled on May 10.
The council is set to consider the modifications made by the Coastal Commission to the city’s Local Coastal Program Amendment for the permit, zone changes and development agreement that was originally created to allow for a site for ball fields adjacent to Bluffs Park in exchange for building a five-home subdivision.
The city’s Planning Manager Joyce Parker-Bozylinski, sets out the city’s options in a notice of the meeting.
The commission’s regulations set out the protocol for possible city council action.
The LCPA certification would not be considered final and effective until a number of actions are taken.
The city official points out that the council must acknowledge receipt of the modifications, accept and agree to any terms or modifications made by the commission and take whatever formal action that is required to satisfy the terms and modifications and agrees to issue coastal permits.
Subsequent to the city council’s action, the executive director, Peter Douglas, reports the council action to the commission, which reviews Malibu’s LCPA and makes a determination whether to certify the LCPA.
Parker has indicated that if the city council does not accept the modifications or terms of the commission, it can resubmit.
However, the commission made it clear it would not allow the city to resubmit on the ball field issue.

Mail Ballots Sent Out for May Measure A Election

• $198 Parcel Tax for Five Years

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


Vote by mail ballots for the May 25 Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District Measure A parcel tax proposal are being mailed to voters in both areas this week and the debate between proponents and opponents of the five-year $198 per parcel tax is heating up.
Measure A proposes a $198 annual tax per parcel in the district to “protect our high-quality local schools against severe funding cuts imposed by the State of California; prevent widespread teacher layoffs; maintain academic excellence in reading, writing, math, and science; preserve elementary school music; [and] keep school libraries open,” according to the ballot language.
If passed, the tax would be levied for five years. According to the ballot, Measure A includes “senior homeowner exemptions; mandatory annual public audits; independent citizen oversight; no funds used for administrator salaries; and all funds supporting our local Santa Monica and Malibu schools.”
Voters have less than a month to decide on their vote, but the argument between proponents and opponents of the tax measure have been debating the issue since the tax was first proposed.
A website at www.savesantamonicamalibuschools.org presents a wide range of arguments in favor of the measure.
“The State has cut over $10 million from our local schools in each of the past two years, with more cuts on the way,” the website states.“Measure A will provide stable local funding to support academic programs in our schools. Measure A is critically needed to prevent a serious decline in the quality of our schools and will allow SMMUSD to maintain the great teachers and strong academics that make our district among the best in the state.”
The website goes on to state that the measure will “protect instruction and minimize cuts in reading, writing math and science, minimize teacher layoffs, keep class sizes as small as possible, help protect music and art programs, keep school libraries open, and minimize cuts to counselors who help students stay on track and prepare for college and careers.”
The communities of Santa Monica and Malibu have traditionally supported previous tax measures, however, response to the current parcel tax proposal has been described as “lukewarm.” A large number of residents are already coping with the fallout from the housing and job market crisis and organized opposition to the measure is forming in Santa Monica.
While an informal survey of the Malibu school community indiates a high level of support for the measure, many Santa Monica residents have been vocal in opposing the new tax. Opponents, who have set up a website at http://nosneakattax.com, claim that alternative sources of funding are available but were rejected and charge that the new tax, which brings the yearly parcel tax for school funding to $571, places an “unfair burden” on the district’s poorest residents, while commercial landlords and developers “get off cheap.”
Letters to the Santa Monica community have also charged that the district has mismanaged funds, spending $800,000 in legal fees to fight parents of special education students and $3 million to evict two longtime Santa Monica families from their homes by eminent domain for what opponents describe as an “overly ambitious” expansion of Edison Elementary in Santa Monica.
Others have argued that the district is holding programs like the district’s highly respected elementary school music program “hostage” to the parcel tax.
Residents of Santa Monica and Malibu have until May 25 to vote, but all ballots must be received, not postmarked, by the end date.
The Malibu High School PTA is organizing a volunteer telephone campaign to promote the measure.
More information on the measure is available at the websites listed above, and at the district homepage: www.smmusd.org

Legislative Task Force on PCH Meets Locally at End of June

• Malibu’s Two State Reps Are in the Loop on Safety Issues

BY ANNE SOBLE


The longstanding state legislative Pacific Coast Highway Task Force that has successfully worked on key local traffic issues in the past is going to hold its next regular meeting in Malibu on Wednesday, June 30, from 10 a.m. to noon, according to email communications copied to the Malibu Surfside News by Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich this week.
The meeting scheduled to take place at City Hall is important because city officials think it is critical that State Senator Fran Pavley and Assemblymember Julia Brownley not only be apprised of growing PCH safety concerns, but also their aid should be enlisted if there is going to be a concerted municipal effort to bring back the California Highway Patrol to handle coast highway traffic law enforcement.
City Manager Jim Thorsen initiated contact with the task force staff to set up the meeting date.
Conley Ulich wrote interested parties, “Hopefully everyone can collaborate to come up with solutions we can start implementing sooner rather than later.”
The task force normally holds its monthly meetings in Santa Monica, but Kara Seward, who is the lead on transportation matters in Pavley’s office, and Jesse Switzer, who oversees the same issues for Brownley, acknowledged that a meeting held in Malibu could result in a much larger turnout.
This expectation is predicated on the vocal expressions of concern for PCH safety that have reverberated throughout the community in the wake of four recent fatalities.
Citizens are saying that they want to see local speeding laws enforced, which many perceive as not being done now, as well as implementation of cell phone curbs, and other efforts to increase driver attention at the wheel.
Task force meetings are usually attended by state Department of Transportation and other agency representatives, which is especially relevant since PCH is a state highway under Caltrans aegis.

911 Calls Reporting Erratic Driver Who Killed Girl Add to PCH Safety Concerns

• Sources Say No LASD Cars May Have Been in Malibu When Incident Occurred

BY ANNE SOBLE


The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has issued a call for additional witnesses and information in the April 3 death of 13-year-old Emily Rose Shane on Pacific Coast Highway.
Some witnesses have already stepped forward, but the LASD Homicide Bureau wants to recreate a timeline for the blue, four-door Mitsubishi Lancer driven by Sina Khankhanian through Malibu on the day Shane was killed.
Khankhanian faces second degree murder charges in the Malibu High School student’s death.
There were six 911 calls reporting Khankhanian’s erratic driving, starting before Topanga, and presumably other witnesses observed the driver on the PCH. Anyone with information is asked to contact LASD Detective Mark Lillienfeld at 323-890-5589.
The audio of the six 911 calls is not being released by the sheriff’s department because it is evidence; however, members of the recently formed PCH safety group obtained their approximate time sequence and locations (it appears 911 calls may not be time stamped, so exact times are unavailable).
Call one, received at Lost Hills, was from an LAPD dispatcher who had spoken to a citizen via 911. The citizen reported a “very dangerous” driver on Topanga Canyon headed toward PCH. This call came in at approximately 5:03 p.m.
Call two, also received at the Lost Hills Station, came from that same citizen via 911. The citizen reported the same suspect and conduct, relating that the car was going north on PCH from Topanga.
Call three, received at Lost Hills, was made by two local men driving north on PCH toward Pepperdine. This 911 call came directly to Lost Hills at about 5:11 p.m.
Call four was also a 911 call directly to the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station. This caller saw the suspect going north on PCH past Pepperdine. This call came in at approximately 5:14 p.m.
Call five was from the scene of the incident. This call went directly to Lost Hills via 911, and was received at about 5:17 p.m.
Call six was received after the incident from a CHP dispatcher who was relaying information from a citizen at 5:23 p.m.
Although sources familiar with LASD procedures would not speak for attribution, they stress that accident information is still being analyzed. Even so, it appears that no sheriff’s vehicles were able to respond quickly to the 911 calls, and there may not have been any cars at all on PCH.
These sources say there is department protocol for this type of 911 call to be assigned to a designated LASD vehicle, and that has not yet been shown to have occurred in this instance.

Parents and Teachers Are Drafting Petition to Convert Point Dume Elementary into a Charter School

• Campus Would Still Be Public within the SMM District

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


A group of Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School parents and teachers have announced that they are in the process of drafting a petition to transform the school into an independent charter school.
The announcement came just days after the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District announced that PDMSS has been named a California Distinguished School for 2010.
“We feel we are in a position to save the school,” PDMSS parent and PTA president Robyn Ross told the Malibu Surfside News. Ross and PDMSS PTA executive vice president Ali Thonson are spearheading the charter conversion movement with the support of the parent and teacher community at the school.
School district officials have denied the rumor that has been circulating for over a year that the K-5 school that serves the Point Dume community may be closed due to the current budget crisis and declining enrollment, but these fears persist.
Longtime Point Dume residents have not forgotten that the district decided to close the school in 1980—despite overwhelming opposition from the community—during a similar economic and attendance decline.
For 16 years, Point Dume families transported their children to Juan Cabrillo and Webster elementary schools, while the neighborhood school, walking distance for most Point Dume residents, stood empty. The campus was later used as a community center and office space. The school reopened in 1996. The volunteer group seeking the charter conversion say they do not want to see history repeated.
“I’ve been a parent at this wonderful school for seven years,” Ross said. “This isn’t a new idea, it’s been discussed over the years. The time is now right.”
The volunteer group is seeking “a charter conversion in an effort to ensure the school stays open amid an increasing state budget crisis and at a time when a Malibu elementary school closure looks imminent,” a press release issued by the petitioners stated.
Ross explained that PDMSS would remain a public school, and continue to serve the community, but that the charter conversion would allow the school to maintain lower class size, classroom support and the school’s marine and environmental science program, but would also allow for a stronger emphasis on technology and the arts.
“We had a meeting on April 23 for the PDMSS parent community,” Ross said. “There is a tremendous outpouring of support. This is a real community effort. Our teachers voted unanimously to support the petition.”
Once the petition is submitted, the district will have 30 days to schedule a public meeting and must approve or deny the petition within 60 days.
According to the press release, the PDMSS charter developers are working with the California Charter Schools Association and the law offices of Middleton, Young & Minney, which specializes in charter law.
“We’re hoping to work amicably with the district,” Ross said. “It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

Publisher’s Notebook

Mitrice Richardson: Not Just Another Birthday

BY ANNE SOBLE


Friday, April 30, is Mitrice Richardson’s 25th birthday. If she is alive, it will be the most important birthday she has ever celebrated, whether she is aware what day it is, or even knows who she is.
Richardson’s birthday will bring together family members and friends to reaffirm their efforts to find the young woman, or if she is not alive, to determine what happened to her. The hope that a recent drone search might provide some clues to her whereabouts proved disappointing. Still, that the high-tech equipment did not find any skeletal remains buoys those who want to believe that she did not die in the rugged Santa Monica Mountains where she was left to fend for herself on foot in an isolated area.
Richardson has been missing for almost eight months with no word to family and friends and no attempt to access her bank funds. There is disbelief that someone could disappear so completely. However, some of the recent high profile missing person cases have demonstrated that human remains can be within a few feet of search areas, passed by people daily and not be located without the help of the person who placed them there.
Friday’s gathering of family and friends emphasizes the need to keep the public spotlight on Richardson’s disappearance. In acknowledgement of her 25th birthday, they are asking everyone who can to print 25 flyers and post them at 25 locations (flyers can be downloaded at findmitrice.info). In addition, participants will release a “rainbow” of biodegradable multi-colored balloons as a representation of her “colorful and energetic personality.”
In collaboration with Maurice DuBois, the father of murdered teenager Amber DuBois who has become a missing persons advocate, a massive two-day search for Richardson is tentatively planned for June 5 and 6. Details will follow as soon as they are available.
There is hardly a news organization in Southern California and many other parts of the nation that hasn’t done an article on Richardson, the African-American honors college graduate and beauty contestant who was last seen during booking—for field citable charges—at the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station for not paying an $89.51 dinner bill at a Malibu restaurant Sept. 16. She was released from Lost Hills at 12:30 a.m. the next morning without her car, purse, cell phone, or even a jacket.
Mental health experts think Richardson was exhausted from not having slept for almost a week, was lapsing in and out of coherence, and may have been early-stage bipolar. All of this appears to have been missed by the authorities who have established procedures to follow in such instances. The office of Congressmember Maxine Waters has indicated there will be an inquiry into whether any civil rights violations occurred during Richardson’s arrest, booking and release. This could trigger federal involvement in her case.
Human tragedy is difficult to deal with when the circumstances are known. When there are no answers to any of the questions, it is unbearable.

USGS Begins Its Second Phase of Water Testing with Malibu

• Municipal Officials Hope for New Ammunition to Challenge RWQCB Thinking


Utilizing some of the “newest and most sophisticated DNA testing available to measure sources of bacteria in water,” the U.S. Geological Survey has again partnered with Malibu to undertake a $406,400 wet weather study to obtain additional data of the water quality of Lower Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon and at Surfrider Beach, city officials announced recently.
The study is an attempt by the municipality to further strengthen the argument that Malibu’s septic systems are not contributing to the pollution of the creek, lagoon and ocean by scientifically demonstrating there is no evidence of human bacteria in the area’s various bodies of water.
The issue is central to the disagreement between the city and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, which issued a septic prohibition, in part, on the basis of human contamination of area waters.
The city argues that previous studies did not show the actual source of the polluted waterways, but rather demonstrated the presence of what is called indicator bacteria. The USGS study is the second in its series of studies on area waters using a device known as the Phylochip, manufactured by a private corporation in conjunction with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory staff.
According to the manufacturer, the Phylochip can detect up to 32,000 unique versions of the 16S rRNA gene sequence, which is found in all bacteria. This enables the scientists to detect the actual sources of a wide array of bacteria in water samples.
If the wet weather studies come up with the same conclusions as the dry weather studies done last year, it could provide valuable ammunition for the city, which was not able to use the previous study results at the RWQCB hearing, at the state board meeting or possibly in court.
The city has asked the Regional Board to reconsider its ban and consider several scientific studies, some of which have been published since the board’s action.

Citizens Public Safety Committee Explores PCH Speed Limits and Fiscal Constraints

• Stricter Enforcement Seen as Major Component

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


At its Monday meeting, members of A Safer PCH continued to discuss potential ways of decreasing the speed limit on PCH and increasing law enforcement presence to augment the current allotment of four sheriff’s department black-and-whites and one motorcycle officer.
Suggestions ranged from purchasing additional “dum-my” black-and-white units to place in high speed areas of PCH, to forming a committee and approaching the County of Los Angeles to negotiate for a larger share of tax money for law enforcement. “We only get seven percent back,” recent city council candidate Steve Scheinkman told the group. Most cities [in the county] get 14-15 percent back. Calabasas gets nine percent. Someone else is getting our money and we have a state highway to patrol.”
“The Beach Team goes on patrol in May,” Lost Hill’s Sheriff’s Station deputy Derek Alfred told the group, “That will put more men on the street.”
Newly elected city council member Laura Rosenthal suggested that the community could work with the county and Caltrans to improve signage at Zuma. “The county could do a better job,” she said, suggesting signs that would clearly indicate the distance to legal U-turn access.
Sergeant Jim Castro, who also attended the meeting, agreed that enforcement is key. “Every time you speed, every time you talk on the phone, you should know that there is a really good likelihood that you will get caught,” he said. He explained that the “hands free” law applies to cars stopped at traffic lights, as well as vehicles in motion. “It’s a $140 fine for a first offense, and goes up $50 for each additional offense,” he said.
“Lights are key to getting through Malibu,” Longtime Malibu resident Jackie Sutton said. “I know there could be better timing.”
“The problem is the guy speeding is leading the pack and we can’t catch them,” Castro said, concurring. He added that it can be difficult for a ticket to stick, unless the driver is exceeding the speed limit by 11 or more miles. “We have to show the judge that it’s a safety issue,” he said.
“If you really drive the speed limit, everyone will slow down behind you,” Susan Saul said. “We need to be the example.” Saul, one of the organizers of ASPCH, brought the group’s message to the city council that evening, inviting the community to join the PCH safety campaign.
Other ideas discussed on Monday morning included placing more speed indicator signs on the highway and a new bumper sticker campaign reminding drivers to slow down.
Malibu resident and education activist Laureen Sills told the group that her daughter has suggested placing angels along the highway at all the places fatalities have taken place. That suggestion did not go over well with safety commissioner Carol Randall, who lost a family member in front of her home and indicated that it is difficult to live with the memory without a visual reminder. Others raised concerns that markers might distract drivers. “We would need so many of them,” one participant said.
ASPCH plans to continue meeting every Monday morning at 10 a.m. at the Smoller residence, 6269 Frondosa Drive, in Malibu West. Meetings are open to the community and all interested residents are invited to participate.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gavel Changes Hands at Council Reorganization Meeting Next Monday

• Two New Members to Be Sworn In

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Malibu City Council’s reorganization meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 26, at its regular meeting time when Mayor Sharon Barovsky and Councilmember Andy Stern will step down and be replaced by the two newly elected council members that they endorsed, Laura Rosenthal and Lou La Monte.
The meeting gives outgoing members an opportunity to make comments about their tenure and past successes and other officials and dignitaries have a chance to comment. The adjournment of the tenth city council will take place before a brief recess.
Then the eleventh city council convenes and the newly elected council members take the oath of office.
Afterward, comes the largely ceremonial rotation of the posts of mayor and mayor pro tem.
The sequential order calls for Mayor Pro Tem Jefferson Wagner to assume the mayoral position and Councilmember John Sibert to be tapped as the mayor pro tem.
The oath of office will then be administered to the mayor and mayor pro tem.
At the conclusion of the program, time is allotted for the newly elected council members and the incoming mayor and mayor pro tem to make their remarks.

Final City Council Vote Count Affirms Election of Rosenthal and La Monte

• Runner-up’s Numbers Are Similar to 2006 Tally

BY BILL KOENEKER


The official vote count posted by the Malibu City Clerk last Thursday night did not change the results of Tuesday’s preliminary tally.
With all of the vote by mail ballots that were submitted at the polls counted and the provisional ballots tallied, the results were: Laura Rosenthal won by 1734 votes, with Lou La Monte taking the second seat with 1324 votes. John Mazza came in third with 1254 votes, and his slatemate Steve Scheinkman followed with 1152 votes.
Mike Sidley beat out the remaining other candidates with 552 votes, followed by Ed Gillespie with 249 votes. Kofi slipped by Harold Greene by one vote with 180. Matthew Katz collected 98 votes and Jan Andrew Swift, who did not campaign, received 64 votes.
How the vote count unfolded was “déjà vu all over again” for Mazza, as La Monte increased his lead from 53 votes on Tuesday night to 70 after the final count of all the votes was made last week to take one of the two vacant seats on the city council. The results mirrored Mazza’s unsuccessful bid for city council in 2006.
The slim lead La Monte kept over Mazza was much like the race four years ago, when Sharon Barovsky edged out Mazza. There were almost the same number of uncounted absentee ballots and provisional ballots at the 2006 election, and the chance for Mazza to win “statistically” on Tuesday night paralleled last week’s situation.
Hoping that it might be different this time, Mazza again decided not to concede the race on Tuesday night, waiting instead for the final count.
In the 2006 election, incumbent Barovsky’s seat remained in question with the two-term member garnering 1263 votes to challenger Mazza’s 1207 ballots. The near “cliffhanger” was again the same as this year. There were 207 uncounted ballots with 127 absentee ballots and 80 provisional ballots that were counted on Wednesday.
In 2006, when the counting was done and the dust settled, Barovsky retained her seat and increased her lead to 70 votes. Those results ended up with Barovsky having received 1353 votes to Mazza’s 1283 votes.
What was different for Mazza this year was Scheinkman, who ran on a slate with Mazza, and made an impressive showing given his status as a newcomer.
Scheinkman received just 102 votes less than Mazza on his first time out. Could Scheinkman have “stolen” votes from Mazza? It seems unlikely, given that the three times Mazza has run he has never been able to capture more than 1300 votes, which appears to be his core constituency.
In 2006, Mazza’s strongest support came from Point Dume and western Malibu, where the challenger received more votes than Barovsky in those precincts.
The same was not quite true this year. In Mazza’s home turf on Point Dume, the voting for Precincts 60 and 62 at the elementary school had La Monte taking the vote 234 to Mazza’s 217. Rosenthal scored big with 396 votes.
In 2006, Precincts 60 and 62 gave Mazza 147 votes to Barovsky’s 91. Precincts 51 and 56 in western Malibu found Mazza capturing 136 votes to Barovsky’s 97. In Malibu Park, Mazza took 84 votes to Barovsky’s 54.
The same was true for Mazza capturing votes over La Monte this year in western Malibu, with Mazza winning Precincts 51 and 56 at the Malibu West Swim Club by 217 votes to La Monte’s 183. Precinct 57, voting at the Malibu High School, saw Mazza prevail over La Monte 166 to 100, and Precincts 59 and 63, voting at Christian Science Church, gave Mazza 258 votes to La Monte’s 196.
In 2006, Barovsky kept up her lead by picking up more votes in eastern Malibu. La Monte captured eastern Malibu this year. In 2006, Barovsky sometimes captured double the votes of Mazza.
Mazza never made up the difference this year with Precincts 2 and 4, voting at Duke’s, giving La Monte the solid lead with 286 votes over Mazza’s 147.
Another race in 2008 was altogether different, there were only 17 uncounted ballots on Tuesday night. Pamela Conley Ulich was the top vote-getter capturing 2115 votes. Jefferson Wagner gathered 1686 votes, more than 260 ahead of John Sibert who received 1419.
In 2004, Ken Kearsley, the top vote-getter, garnered 1941 votes with Jeff Jennings capturing 1855 and Pamela Conley Ulich gathering 1647. Mazza was a write-in candidate in that election and received 1234 votes.
In the April election in 2000, voter turnout was lower than 2004, both Barovsky and Andy Stern won seats at 1587 and 1543 respectively.

Shane Family Sets Up Web Site So Deeds Done in Daughter’s Name Can Be Recorded

• Hopes ‘Pay It Forward’ Will Become Communitywide

BY ANNE SOBLE


The members of Emily Shane’s immediate family, mother and father Ellen and Michel Shane, and her two older sisters Gerri and Leigh, comforted by relatives and friends, have finished the traditional Judaic days of mourning, or shiva, but Ellen Shane told the Malibu Surfside News this week, “There will never be a day when I won’t think about her loss.”
The mother said the Shane family is focusing its energy on the “pay it forward” memorial being undertaken to honor the daughter who was killed when a speeding car struck her on Pacific Coast Highway near Heathercliff Road on April 3.
“A person does a good deed for someone, then the recipient does a good deed for someone else, and the cycle continues.”
The family has set up a Web site for participants to record their deeds at www.emilyshane.org
Ellen Shane emphasized, “It’s not the extent of a deed, or the amount of a donation, it’s the act that counts.” She hopes people will record all deeds, “however small,” such as “if they welcome someone new to school, sit with someone who seems lonely, help someone who’s struggling with a bag of groceries,” the list goes on.
Shane said, “Our daughter touched so many people, if people reach out to others, it helps toward [building] the kind of world Emily wanted to help bring about.”

Two Malibu Schools Earn State Distinguished Status

• Pt. Dume and Webster Honored

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District announced Tuesday that Point Dume Marine Science and Webster schools are among the 484 public elementary schools that have been designated California Distinguished Schools for 2010.
The California School Recognition Program “identifies and honors the state’s most exemplary and inspiring public schools with the California Distinguished School Award.” Participation in the program is voluntary. Elementary and secondary schools are recognized during alternate years.
“We are extremely proud of our staff for demonstrating educational excellence for all students and progress in narrowing the achievement gap,” district superintendent Tim Cuneo stated in a press release. “The principal, teachers, and staff are to be commended for their hard work and dedication to the success of all students.”
“This is a reflection of our collective effort as a community of teachers, staff, students, parents, and community members,” Pt. Dume principal Chi Kim said. “Everyone works tirelessly to bring innovative programs forward, like marine and environmental science, as well as our reading intervention programs. It is such an honor to be validated for the work that we do for our students.”
“One of the reasons I thought this award was worth pursuing is that our staff and students absolutely deserve the recognition,” said Webster principal Phil Cott. “We try every day to make learning meaningful, to connect our students to the real world, to make learning challenging, exciting, fun.”
“It is an honor to recognize the schools, and the students, parents, teachers, and administrators who helped earn this most prestigious distinction,” State Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell said in a prepared statement. “These schools have persevered despite state budget cutbacks that have cut deeply into the budgets of local school districts.”
Schools were identified for eligibility on the basis of their academic performance index and adequate yearly progress results, which are the state and federal accountability models, respectively,” the press release states.
The applicants were also identified by their success in narrowing the achievement gap that exists between higher-performing and lower-performing students.
Each applicant was also required to describe two “signature practices” that have “led to an increase in student achievement and a narrowing of the achievement gap.” Applicants were then selected to receive a thorough site visit to validate the signature practices.
The awards ceremony will be held on June 4 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.

Coastal Commisson Approves Nix on Ball Fields in Bluffs Land Agreement

BY BILL KOENEKER


A key element of a development agreement, the donation of 1.75 acres for ball fields adjacent to Bluffs Park, in exchange for a five-home subdivision was nullified by the California Coastal Commission last week when it approved the revised findings made by the commission staff.
The commission had previously reviewed the proposed agreement and subsequent zone changes, permits and entitlements as part of a Local Coastal Program Amendment submitted by the city.
The coastal panel rejected the city’s LCPA, adopted its own with modifications
The revisions to the city’s proposal including no ball fields was so low key during a previous commission hearing, not even city officials were certain about the commission’s direction.
Before the city council has a chance to consider those modifications, the coastal panel last week formalized the modifications including changing the 1.75 acres of land proposed for dedication for active recreation to passive recreation.
Most of the modifications including the $2 million the developer agreed to donate for restoration of the Topanga Ranch Motel and donating another seven acres to the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority for a conservation easement were also approved in the revised findings.
The rationale for scuttling the ball fields is the coastal agency’s determination that they would best serve the local population and not have a regional use.
The city council can reject those modifications and the development agreement would not go into effect.
By the time the council gets the package, there will be new members on the council dais and at this time it remains uncertain what the newly formed council might do.
The commission postponed a hearing on the site of the former Albatross Hotel and Restaurant. The agenda item was to change the zoning from commercial visitor-serving to multi-family.

Plans for SMC Campus in Civic Center OK’d

• Return of Sheriff’s Substation Included in the Package


The Malibu Public Facilities Authority late Tuesday night authorized Santa Monica College to negotiate an agreement with the Los Angeles County to build a satellite campus on county land in the Civic Center. area.
The agreement includes construction of a new Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department substation as one of its improvements.
Santa Monica and Malibu voters approved a $135 million bond measure in 2004 that included $25 million for an instructional facility in Malibu. SMC has been in negotiations to find a site for this facility and has been working with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to secure county-owned land in the Civic Center as a location for a 20,000-square-foot college satellite and an approximately 5700-square-foot Sheriff’s substation.
The county Board of Supervisors has to approve the use of the land, where a former sheriff’s substation had been located.
The MPFA, established through a Joint Powers Authority between the City of Malibu and SMC, includes two Malibu City Council members and two members of the college’s Board of Trustees. The SMC trustees joined in the praise for the agreement.
Mayor Sharon Barovsky, a member of the MPFA since its formation, noted that its vote is the first in several planning and approval processes that must take place. In the meantime, Santa Monica College is offering credit classes this year—its first offerings of this type in Malibu in two decades.
The college reported that nearly 130 students enrolled in one or more of the six classes it is offering this semester. The classes are held at Webster Elementary School and offer general education in art, English, geography, photography and psychology.

Hearing Date for City Employee Who Allegedly Hit Bicyclist on PCH Is Continued Once Again

BY BILL KOENEKER


City of Malibu employee Robert S. Sanchez, the man accused in a fatal hit and run on Pacific Coast Highway, was in court this week. The hearing date to set a preliminary hearing date was once more continued to May 7, according to the District Attorney’s office.
Sanchez, who is out on $100,000 bail, is charged with hitting two bicyclists, who were participating in an organized ride on PCH last July, killing Rodrigo “Rod” Armas, 45, and injuring his son Christian, 14, while driving under the influence.
Sanchez has pled not guilty to three counts, which include gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence and failure to stop after an accident involving an injury.
According to law enforcement reports, Sanchez allegedly fled the scene of the accident and was subsequently found hiding, at which point, he was picked up and taken into custody.
Sanchez is a record clerk in the planning department of the City of Malibu.

Suspect in Local Jogger Attack Due Back in Court Next Week

• Man Has Been Ordered to Stand Trial

BY ANNE SOBLE


Christian Marcus Verdin was ordered to stand trial last Thursday on charges that he attacked a a local resident last month on the Point Dume headlands and stole her SUV after the woman jumped/slid down a 150-foot cliff in her struggle to escape.
Verdin was arrested in San Bernardino on April 2 by sheriff’s detectives after a DNA sample obtained from scratch scrapings collected from the victim identified him as the alleged assailant.
Verdin’s DNA is in the state database because he was sentenced to three years in state prison in 2002 following a conviction of petty theft with priors, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
Verdin, who has pleaded not guilty, was in Van Nuys Superior Court for a preliminary hearing on April 15. He is slated to be arraigned on April 29.
Verdin is charged with assault with intent to commit a felony, second-degree robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and grand theft auto. He remains in custody on $320,000 bail.
The man is suspected of attacking the 45-year-old jogger during the day on March 12, as she paused after a run at Point Dume State Park. He allegedly was carrying a knife when he approached the woman but no weapon has been found, according to the incident report.
When the woman broke away, Verdin, who reportedly was barefoot, then allegedly drove off in the victim’s 2004 Toyota Land Cruiser, which was found after his arrest.
The first sheriff’s department news alert that was issued for the missing vehicle contained an incorrect tag number, which might have contributed to the delay in finding it.

Citizens Highway Safety Group Is Organizing

• Plans Weekly Meetings to Address PCH Improvement

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


The April 3 death of Malibu High School student Emily Shane has served as a catalyst for a new push to make Pacific Coast Highway safer.
“ASPCH (A Safer Pacific Coast Highway) is a group of concerned citizens meeting to address traffic safety along PCH in response to recent tragedies,” an invitation to the community that was read at last week’s city council meeting.
“We’re friends of the Shane family, and in sadness, this has motivated us to gather and act on behalf of everyone in our community,” the announcement said.
“Everything we do is in honor of Emily, and others who have been injured or died along PCH, in hopes of preventing future tragedies. Our intent is to work with other concerned residents, the Traffic Safety Commission of Malibu, the Malibu City Council, and the Sheriff’s Department to come up with ideas and solutions to make the highway safer for everyone—motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike.”
The group had its first public meeting on the morning of April 19, bringing together City of Malibu Safety Commission members Carol Randall and Susan Tellem; newly elected City Council member Laura Rosenthal; Malibu Park safety activist Steve Scheinkman who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in the recent election, and nearly two dozen concerned local residents, many of them friends of the Shane family, or the parents of Emily’s classmates.
A long list of PCH safety improvement ideas were discussed at the meeting, including bringing the California Highway Patrol back to Malibu; highway safety education; ways to prevent illegal U-turns and improve highway speed signage; how to reclaim the public right-of-way; who to call when there is a problem on PCH; and whether the speed limit on PCH could be lowered.
“It’s a state highway,” Randall reminded the group, adding that Caltrans, not the City of Malibu, oversees the road. “It’s not a minor thing to lower it.” She also warned that traffic lights were a complex issue. “It requires warrants,” she said. “There are places were it just can’t be done.”
Randall applauded the idea of returning the CHP to PCH— “CHP was taken away from us when we became a city. Four other cities have gotten them back.”—but expressed concern over calls to place K-rail in the center divider of PCH. “K-rail made me cringe,” she said. “You don’t want more problems.”
Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Sergeant Derek Sabatini concurred, stating that emergency vehicles require the median for access. “It’s the only medium to get through in the summer,” he said.
The deputies explained that the Shane case is still under investigation and they could not discus it. “We can gather questions and get the answers you need,” they said. However, they were able to comment on some of the ideas, applauding plans to increase safety education at Malibu High School. They also explained the complex 911-call protocol for PCH.
“A 911 call is routed either to the CHP or the sheriff,” Sergeant Jim Castro said. “There’s a four-to-five minute delay in the field—10 minutes if someone is driving really fast. Most [PCH calls] come directly to us, but Topanga doesn’t.
“We have the number one ticket-writer in the state of California, but we are spread out, Malibu is long and unique.”
Castro explained that if the individuals reporting a driver are keeping track of them and remain on the line with the dispatcher it improves the chances that the suspect can be intercepted. “Malibu residents are the best ones calling and reporting,” he said.
“I spoke to Sgt. Brooks [the Lost Hill’s Sheriff’s Station traffic officer],” Malibu West resident and fire safety activist Cindy Vandor said. “Calls [about erratic driving by the suspect who struck Shane] began before Topanga.”
Randall recommended that residents call the Lost Hills station direct at 310-456-6652, rather than call 911. “That’s what I do,” she said.
However, that telephone number isn’t known by most out-of-area commuters or visitors to Malibu. And the signs on PCH say to dial 911 to report drunk drivers.
Steve Scheinkman suggested a new traffic study of PCH, and applauded the group’s plan to bring its concerns to the city’s public safety commission regular meeting. “It’s apolitical, they really listen, but they need some teeth,” he said.
“The highway isn’t in our hands but it’s worth a try,” Safety commissioner Susan Tellem said. “The highway has been studied forever, I’m not saying don’t do that. Jim Thorsen [the City Manager] always talks about the three E’s, engineering, education and enforcement. We don’t have enough enforcement. We need to double enforcement.”
ASPCH plans to continue meeting every Monday morning at 10 a.m. at 6269 Frondosa Drive, in Malibu West. All interested Malibu residents are welcome to attend.

Publisher’s Notebook

• Actions Speak Louder •

ANNE SOBLE


The News’ call for action on Pacific Coast Highway has been joined in the last week by a community chorus that includes members of the Malibu City Council at their recent meeting and residents throughout the community, who are either considering organizing citizen groups, or vowing to make their concerns public at the city, county and state levels of government through letters to the editor or their personal connections with elected officials.
This chorus of public concern, singing at its loudest, is what it will take to push aside bureaucratic tendencies toward inaction and ensure that PCH, a state highway, gets the kind of enforcement oversight that a road traveled by thousands of local residents, out-of-area commuters and recreational visitors requires if the road is not going to become a proverbial trail of tears known for its deaths and injuries.
When the bean counters start talking about budgets, and statisticians want to debate the death toll versus that of other roadways, Malibuites have to be prepared to shout them down. Government perpetuates the status quo whenever possible, but upending the status quo is the only way public safety on PCH can be improved, and the speeding, the driving while impaired and the ubiquitous cell phone use and other distractions can be brought under control.
A current member of the city council has just opened lines of communication with the state Department of Transportation. Caltrans maintains a closed-door policy whenever possible, but Caltrans officials have said that they are ready to meet with city representatives because they appreciate that PCH safety is to their advantage. They know the attributes of the highway that make it dangerous.
Malibu’s two state representatives also have been reluctant in the past to tackle PCH concerns, especially with regard to bringing back the California Highway Patrol for traffic control, but both now show new appreciation for the depth of constituent insistence on renewing a discussion of options. The recent deaths of local caregivers, a visitor and a thirteen-year-old full of promise can’t be ignored.
Residents who want to climb aboard the PCH safety bandwagon can check out the new citizens group that is just getting started. Write letters to the editor. Speak at city council meetings and other public forums. Encourage elected and appointed officials to make PCH safety a top priority on every public policy agenda.

Mitrice Richardson’s Family Support Group Keeps Up Its Pressure on Lost Hills

• Challenges Recent Award Given to Station

BY ANNE SOBLE


A psychologist who is a key member of the Mitrice Richardson family support group and volunteer search effort is challenging the validity of an award “as the highest-rated patrol station for policing services in the United States” recently given to the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station that booked the 24-year-old woman who went missing after being released from the station on foot, without her wallet or cell phone, which were left in her impounded vehicle, shortly after midnight on Sept. 17.
Hampton has written the Altus Global Alliance, as part of an inquiry into the nature of the organization based in the Hague, that she “took the opportunity to review the questions [it] used to review the station. After reviewing [the questions], I can see how a error could occur in awarding such a distinction to a station that clearly does not deserve such an honor.” AGA states that it visited 23 stations in eight cities in the nation, without indicating how they were selected.
Hampton wrote AGA, “What is missing from the questionnaire is a section that allows for input from the community. No where on the questionnaire was there the opportunity for the fact to be mentioned that this station released [Mitrice Richardson] in the middle of the night after they had her place her keys, purse, and cell phone in her car and then had the car towed [so that she was required to walk] more than 15 miles down a dark, steep and remote canyon full of wild animals to get to it.”
Hampton added, “The case of Mitrice Richardson is not an isolated case of maltreatment by this department. My request is, in the future, consideration should be made as to how departments actually treat the public they serve and ‘protect.’ This award is a slap in the face to all who have been hurt by this department...and the award should be reconsidered.”

Science Fest Celebrates Biodiversity in Malibu’s Backyard

• Attendance Numbers Indicate NPS Underestimated Public Interest Bugs and Bats at Night Event

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


The National Park Service underestimated the appeal of things that go bump in the night during the night science portion of the first annual Santa Monica Mountains Science Festival at Paramount Ranch in the mountains above Malibu, sponsored by the NPS and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
The event, developed to continue the citizen scientist theme of the 2008 Santa Monica Mountain’s Bio Blitz, sponsored by National Park Service and National Geographic Society, proved wildly successful.
More than 500 visitors packed the park to learn about bugs, bats, owls and the night sky. The large number of participants meant the event deteriorated at times into a kind of exuberant chaos, but patient visitors had the opportunity to observe scientists at work and learn more about some of the area’s less known inhabitants.
At the bat station, biologists were using “Anibat” technology—short-range ultrasonic object detectors that generate sonograms of passing bats, allowing the team to ID the species, while the bats, often unseen, went about their business, snatching mosquitoes, moths, midges and other insects out of the sky. “It picks up sounds higher than human ears can hear—25 kilohertz—and lowers it into the human hearing range,” bat biologist Stephanie Remington explained.
Remington said that each bat has a different signature, although some overlap. “Brown bats and Mexican free-tailed bats, two species found here, can overlap,” Remington said, comparing the bats’ vocalizations to the range of a slide trombone, “but Mexican free-tailed bats are screamers, we get a strong signature from them.” According to Remington, the Mexican free-tail is one of few local bats that can make a sound audible to humans.
The equipment not only makes the bat’s echolocation audible, but graphs it on the computer readout. The audience could see the difference between the large, robust big brown bat, and the tiny western pipistrelle, a bat that weighs no more than a penny.
According to the biology team, the Santa Monica Mountains still support a large bat population, but bat numbers are declining everywhere.
“Light pollution is a really serious problem,” Remington said. “Predators like ravens and Cooper’s hawks are now hunting at night. In Orange County [where she conducts much of her research], I haven’t seen the Milky Way in four years.”
“Many species require darkness for survival, it’s cumulative,” another member of the science team added. “We’re constantly being bothered by our own technology. Habitat loss is another major problem. Some bats adapt easily to urban life, moving into attics and empty buildings, others have zero tolerance for habitat loss. It’s a big problem. Many of California’s bats are species of special concern.”
The team reportedly caught, banded and released seven yuma myotis, a small bat that specializes in snatching insects over the surface of ponds and streams, during the evening.
The area’s owls evaded capture, but the owl team brought in a young red shouldered hawk.
The raptor was weighed, measured and banded. Bird biologist Pete Bloom was on hand to oversee the process, and gave the audience an opportunity to examine the bird at close quarters.
“This is an adolescent,” Bloom said. “He’s probably about 12 months old. The adult’s tail is black and white, and the breast turns ruby red. This is one of our most beautiful raptors.”
According to Bloom, many raptors, like bats, are currently declining. He cited rodent poison as a leading cause of death. “Rodenticide is a major issue on the urban edge,” Bloom said. Raptors that have adapted to urban life die when they ingest prey that have been poisoned, including rats and mice.
At the end of the the evening, the young hawk was fed a mouse and packed into a box for the night. “Their night vision isn’t much better than ours,” Bloom said. “We’ll release him in the morning.”
Over at the bug station, Natural History Museum biologist Brent “The Bug Guy” Karner was pleased to have encountered a type of brown lacewing reportedly not previously ID-ed west of Tennessee.
“There are 1.5 million described species [of insects]. If you want to find a new species, collect bugs, you may not have to look farther than your backyard to find something new.”
Karner’s special mercury vapor and black lights attracted not only insects, but a record crowd of children. A large, beautifully marked tiger moth drew gasps of awe, and even the humble crane fly—a large but harmless mosquito-like insect—met with a rapt and enthusiastic audience. Nearby, a table offered a look at live examples of some of the area’s most impressive-looking species, including native tarantulas and scorpions.
“We’ve had cool stuff tonight,” Karner said. “Even though everything has been late this year. I hope they ask me to come back in June.”
“We had 500 people on Friday night and 2150 on Saturday,” National Park Service public relations officer Lauren Newman told the Malibu Surfside News, after the event. It was amazing. Our goal was just 1000 total. We’re very excited and are planning to do this again next year.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Unofficial Election Tally: Rosenthal Is Runaway Top Vote-Getter and La Monte Appears to Have Edged Out Mazza for Other Seat

• At Least 250 Ballots Are Still Uncounted—Enough to Possibly Change the Outcome for Second

BY BILL KOENEKER


With the unofficial tally in, Laura Rosenthal became the clear-cut frontrunner of the ten candidates in Tuesday’s municipal election when two city council seats were up for grabs.
Rosenthal kept a steady lead from the beginning, when the absentee ballots were counted, through the tally of all of the seven precincts, garnering 1607 total votes in the unofficial count.
An exhilarated Rosenthal called it a great victory, “but a better victory for all of Malibu.”
She pointed to her front running status as a clear sign that her message and platform appealed to a wide segment of the community and not just to parents and the so-called school vote.
“We want to keep Malibu a small town, people want that,” she said.
The second place victor was not as clear-cut with Lou La Monte receiving 1235 votes, just 53 more votes than John Mazza, who got 1182 votes.
There is a total of 259 uncounted ballots, including 133 vote by mail ballots that were handed in at polling places and 126 provisional ballots—problem ballots that need possible consultation with the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder’s office—according to Malibu City Clerk Lisa Pope.
The city clerk said uncounted ballots would be tallied on Wednesday after the Malibu Surfside News went to press. The final unofficial vote count will be posted on the MSN website at www.malibusurfsidenews.com
Nevertheless, on Tuesday night, La Monte jubilantly declared victory for himself, saying, “Everyone else is calling it a victory.”
However, that was not the case in the Mazza and Steve Scheinkman camp where Mazza said on Tuesday night that he would not yet concede defeat.
“He’s got a shot at it,” said Scheinkman, who moments before had been conferring with Mazza about the possibility of the tally of the uncounted ballots overturning La Monte’s lead.
Scheinkman conceded Mazza’s losses on the east end of Malibu, especially the Big Rock area where La Monte is better known. But he claimed if the Big Rock vote was removed, Mazza would hold a 60 to 40 lead over La Monte.
As in most previous elections, the tally of the absentee ballots when the polls closed showed the trend for the rest of the ballot count.
Scheinkman captured 1083 votes, while all of the other candidates fell far behind.
Mike Sidley took 516 votes, while Ed Gillespie received 230 votes. Kofi followed next with 162, five more votes than Harold Greene at 157.
Matthew Katz garnered 90, while Jan Andrew Swift, who did not run a campaign, scored 60 votes.
The city clerk noted that 37.31 percent of the registered voters in the City of Malibu turned out for Tuesday’s election.

City Council Unanimously Approves Lighting Code Change for MHS Activities

• LCP Amendment Goes to CCC

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


The Malibu City Council voted unanimously at its April 12 meeting to adopt an ordinance that would amend the City of Malibu’s municipal code and Local Coastal Program to permit athletic field lighting at Malibu High School. However, the LCP amendment must be approved by the California Coastal Commission before the ordinance can take effect.
The ordinance specifies “limited lighting of the main sports field at public high schools during Pacific Standard Time until 7:30 p.m., except that for 18 days in any 12-month period, [lighting may be used] up to 10:30 p.m.”
The school district would be required to apply for and abide by a conditional use permit before deploying lighting on the field.
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich continued to push the council to leave the number of nights open-ended, expressing concern that future generations would suffer due to the restrictions, but she failed to convince the rest of the council.
“I would love to,” Mayor Sharon Barovsky said, reminding the council that the LCP amendment required Coastal Commission approval, “but it would be a death sentence for lighting.”
“No restrictions would be great,” Malibu High School principal Mark Kelly said, called to the podium to comment on the issue, “but this would work for us.”
“I want to see the kids out there playing,” Councilmember Andy Stern said. He described Conley Ulich’s proposal as a “dead end.”
The council agreed that the ordinance “meets the requirements of the LCP” and voted unanimously to endorse the ordinance as written, pending Coastal Commission approval.

Replacing Several Homes with Single Larger House May Be Growing Trend

• Demolition Permit Requests Appear to Be Increasing

BY BILL KOENEKER


It may be a trend that started several years ago on Billionaires’ Beach, also known as Carbon Beach, where two, three or four lots with older beachfront homes were purchased by one landowner, who demolished the houses in order to merge the lots and build one large beachfront mansion.
At the least, many new purchasers nowadays are tearing down the existing homes and replacing the older structures with usually larger residences.
The trend seems on the upswing in the last six months and has spread to other beaches.
A Broad Beach property owner last week received approval from the planning commission to demolish three adjacent houses totaling 10,356 square feet, merging the three contiguous properties in order to build an 11,210- square-foot single-family home with attached garage and greenhouse, 249 square feet of covered porches, paddle tennis court, swimming pool and spa.
Also last week, another property owner, whose one of many homes, is located near Paradise Cove, successfully sought permission to demolish an existing single-family residence and detached garage and build a new 2472-square-foot, one-story, single-family residence with a 545-square-foot attached garage and a 590- square-foot art studio located above the new garage on a two-acre parcel on a bluff top above the beach.
The planning commission is expected to approve several more requests at its meeting next week involving teardowns.
Another Broad Beach homeowner wants to demolish a single-family home that is built across three individual lots, merge two of the three lots and construct a new, two-story, 28-foot tall, 11,315-square-foot residence including an attached three car garage, 2284 square feet of covered porches and decks.
Down coast at the 27000 block of Pacific Coast Highway another homeowner wants to receive approval for a demolition permit and construct a new, two-story, 28-foot-tall, 8704-square-foot single-family home with attached garage and 898-square-foot basement, a swimming pool and a sports court.
Part of the trend is because of the aging stock of housing in Malibu, much of it built 50 or 60 years ago.
Another factor is the socio-economic status of the newest homeowners, who can rely on huge piles of cash because of their earning power or accumulated wealth and can easily purchase a multi-million dollar home, tear it down and start anew.
Planners say there are also benefits to the environment by replacing or eliminating aging or possibly failing septic systems with state-of-the-art, mini-wastewater packages.
The number of houses eliminated also can usually be counted on to lessen everyday impacts—fewer households thereby possibly reducing other impacts such as less car trips per day, newer and more sophisticated landscape irrigation systems in some cases resulting in water conservation.
There is no argument that the newer, larger homes change the neighborhood character and critics contend the loss of ocean views because of the larger bulkier, two-story buildings even with view corridor mitigations are no match for the small single-story buildings that were replaced.

CCC Wants Passive Use of Land in Property Development Agreement

• Reconfigures City Council May Have Different Ideas

BY BILL KOENEKER


When a development agreement was first proposed in Malibu City Council chambers by a developer willing to donate land for ball fields near Bluffs Park in exchange for building a five-home subdivision, there were audible gasps from immediate supporters of the proposal.
However, the key element of the development agreement, the ball fields, is about to be scuttled by the California Coastal Commission, which reviewed the proposed agreement and subsequent zone changes, permits and entitlements as part of a Local Coastal Program Amendment.
The revisions to the city’s proposal, including no ball fields was so low key during a previous commission hearing, not even city officials were certain about the commission’s direction when the city’s LCPA was turned down and another was approved by the commission with modifications.
Before the city council has a chance to consider those modifications, the coastal panel this week is formalizing the modifications, including changing the 1.75 acres of land proposed for dedication for active ball fields to passive recreation.
Most of the modifications, including the $2 million the developer agreed to donate for an in lieu fee for restoration of the Topanga Ranch Motel and donating another seven acres to the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority for a conservation easement are being formalized in a revised findings hearing the commission will consider this week.
The coastal panel seemed convinced by the CCC staff’s argument that changing the zoning of the so-called Crummer Fields from commercial visitor-serving to recreational and residential was giving up one of the highest priorities of zoning and that several mitigation measures must be taken. However, the commission ended up crafting more extensive and detailed modifications than the staff recommendations.
The rationale for scuttling the ball fields is a coastal determination that the fields would best serve the local population and not regionally.
“[Therefore] the commission determined that the proposed active recreational use contemplated for the site (baseball fields or other active use) would primarily serve the local public rather than members of the public from a regional or statewide area and, thus, would not maximize public access to the coast. Therefore, the commission found that the approximately 1.75 acres recreational area of the site shall be limited to passive recreational use in order to increase public benefit,” the staff report states.
The report goes on to also explain how the commissioners will not allow the gates for the subdivision that were planned by the developer.
“The commission found a gated residential community in this location would be inconsistent with the character of the area and would create the perception of an exclusive community,” the commission staff report notes.
The city council can reject those modifications and the development agreement would not go into effect.
However, the city already has had its own LCPA rejected and it would put both the city and the developer at square one with the need to negotiate a new development agreement if both parties chose to do so.
By the time the council gets the package, there will be new members on the council dais and, at this time, it remains uncertain what any newly formed council might do.

Council Members Debate Giving the City’s Highest Honor to Kenneth Starr

• Dean Has to Settle for Commendation

BY BILL KOENEKER


Most Malibu City Council members said this week they just did not want to do it—award the outgoing dean of the Pepperdine University Law School Kenneth Starr, the city’s highest honor, a Malibu tile.
The request had been made by Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who teaches part-time at the law school, and had sought the top award for Starr’s help “in recognition of his assistance in developing the ‘Citizen’s Guide for Dealing with Paparazzi.’”
At the same time, Conley Ulich also wanted the council to recognize former planning commissioner Regan Schaar for her six years of service to the city. The council, by contrast, readily agreed to award Schaar, the city’s highest honor.
Councilmember Andy Stern said it was his understanding the tile was given for at least six or seven years of service.
Conley Ulich said that a six or seven year requirement is not in the formal policy. She read from Policy 29. “Individual members of the city council may request, through the office of the city clerk, the placing on the agenda of presentation of proclamations, resolutions of commendation and other forms of special recognition commendations to members of the community who are deserving of special recognition for their work in the community or for a singular accomplishment, which brings honor and recognition to the Malibu community and to proclaim special events and occurrences of importance to the community.”
Conley Ulich said it should be a matter of gratitude and gratefulness to those who step forward, such as Starr.
“I had asked him to help. He is leaving town and I wanted to show gratitude with what he came up with. Two binders of information that I am forwarding to Santa Monica. The information is valuable. We were not brave enough do that,” she said, referring to the council’s refusal to enact some kind of anti-paparazzi ordinance.
Mayor Sharon Barovsky said she would support a tile for Schaar. “She spent six years. I would not support a tile for Starr. He is brilliant. David Kagon gave 30 years of service, but he never expected recognition. I think we would be setting the bar too low. It was nice of Starr to serve,” she said.
Looking at Conley Ulich, Stern said, “I see you are rolling your eyes. Bring it back to the next council. I would hate to see that my last vote was for a tile for Starr.”
Councilmember Jefferson Wagner said he supported a tile for Schaar and it was the right time to commend her.
“Regan deserves it,” he said.
Councilmember John Sibert said he served with Schaar on the planning commission for years and thought she should be recognized. Sibert reminded his colleagues that one of the requirements for most faculty members and how they are judged is by their service to the community. “I support a commendation [for Starr], not a tile,” he said.
The mayor suggested they bifurcate the vote, with the council unanimously approving a tile for Schaar and also unanimously granting a commendation for Starr et al.
Conley Ulich added she wanted a commendation for Starr and all of the others on his staff, who worked on the issue.

Corral Fire Suspects’ Court Date Is Rescheduled at Judge’s Request

• Resident Statements Ready for Presentation

BY ANNE SOBLE


Corral Canyon residents had finalized their impact statements for presentation and were preparing to show up at the Van Nuys Courthouse this Tuesday, when they received word late last week that the date for pleas by the two men deemed most culpable in the area’s 2007 wildfire would be rescheduled.
Judge Susan Speer’s clerk informed the parties that the judge had an unusually heavy calendar set for April 13, which was not anticipated and she wanted the lawyers to come in on Tuesday to pick a new date for the pleas and the victim impact statements.
The prosecutor on the case, Deputy DA Frances Young, has collected the statements and pictures, which will be presented at the rescheduled court date.
Residents are being led to think that the two defendants charged with causing the fire are going to enter guilty pleas for their role expanding a campfire set in the “cave” area atop Corral. They kicked embers into dry brush during hot Santa Ana winds and left the scene as flames began to rage out of control.
The Corral wildfire destroyed 53 homes, damaged 35, burned 4900 acres and forced the evacuation of several neighborhoods in central Malibu. Many pets were killed, and one man’s death is indirectly attributed to the blaze.
Beverly Taki, who heads the local fire survivors effort, told her neighbors, “I am so sorry for this delay, it’s the legal system and we must remain patient and attend on the new date.”
Many of the residents plan to be in the courtroom to watch the men, Brian Anderson and William Coppock, enter their pleas.
A third defendant, Brian Franks, has already received probation and must do community service for his role in the fire.
Two other men, Eric Ullman and Dean Allen Lavorante, have not yet enter pleas. They started the original campfire, but were evicted from the premises before the other men built it up in size.
Meanwhile, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has filed suit against all five men for $7.7 million. The CDF says it spent more than that fighting the fire.
After the fire, the Corral Canyon residents banded together. They provide mutual support, as well as follow the legal cases related to the fire’s outbreak.
Corral residents say they are going to remain actively involved in patrolling the canyon, educating people about fire safety, and training the neighborhood for fire prevention.
They want to ensure that “fires are not deliberately and negligently started in their community again.”

Old Malibu Sheriff’s Station Slated for Use as Interim Public Library Quarters

• During Year or So that Branch Is Closed for Remodeling

BY BILL KOENEKER


Malibu and Los Angeles County officials announced this week at a Malibu City Council meeting they have a tentative plan to relocate the closing Malibu Library to the lobby of the old sheriff’s station.
The temporary closure of the library is scheduled to begin June 1 for remodeling, and municipal and county officials were in a tailspin about how to provide interim service for the one-year closure.
The council was scheduled to talk about what options were available when the announcement was made by Reva Feldman, who is the assistant city manager and administrative services director for the city.
“The temporary library site is the old sheriff’s station lobby. There is 2000 to 2500 square feet,” she said, adding the set up costs are estimated at $25,000 for the small interim library.
County officials explained that they want to make sure that everything is safe and clean and will conduct another inspection of the premises.
“It is a huge solution to our problem,” said Mayor Sharon Barovsky.
“It was on the demolition list,” said Susan Nissman, who is a field deputy and spokesperson for county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s office. “An abatement was done because of the computer equipment.”
Nissman explained the county is planning on another spore test for mold and another hazard inspection before the site can be put in to use.
She said the county has spoken with Santa Monica College officials, since they plan on leasing the site. “They were amenable to [the interim library],” she said.
Nissman went on to say the interim use of the building in no way changes the tentative plans for SMC and the sheriff’s department to utilize the site for a future college satellite campus and about 5000 square feet for law enforcement operations, including a substation and an emergency operations center that has strong community support.
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who has spearheaded library improvements, thanked county officials for use of the temporary facility and expressed gratitude for interim library services, which would still be able to offer Internet connections for those who need them.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said the annual costs for running the interim operation should not be any more, but might be less than the current expenditure of $300,000.
Before the county’s solution was aired, the council was prepared to talk about a half-dozen options presented by the city staff.
Those included no interim services, locating a bookmobile on the county-owned parking lot adjacent to the library or attempting to use city owned buildings.
Council members found out that if they tried to use the city-owned building at the corner of Webb Way and Pacific Coast Highway, the costs might balloon to $600,000, and there might be a potential conflict with a deed restriction that prohibits municipal use of the building that it owns.
That was questioned by Ryan Embree, who asked the city attorney what that deed restriction entailed, but she declined to answer further, saying it was moot at this point.
All of the other choices were just as expensive, including the Michael Landon Center, where zoning does not allow library use; short term rental of commercial space which could cost $600,000; or use of a modular building located on county property, which could cost $700,000 and would not be available for at least six months.

Assault Suspect Has a Court Date This Week

BY ANNE SOBLE


Christian Marcus Verdin returns to court Thursday, April 15, on charges he attacked a jogger last month in Malibu and stole her SUV after she jumped/slid down a cliff in her struggle to escape.
Verdin was arrested in San Bernardino on April 2 by sheriff’s detectives after a DNA match from scratch scrapings identified him as the alleged assailant.
Verdin, who pleaded not guilty during his arraignment, returns to Van Nuys Superior Court, Department 107, for a preliminary hearing this week, said Deputy District Attorney Rochelle Glucksman.
Verdin was charged with assault with intent to commit a felony, second-degree robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and grand theft auto. He remains in custody on $320,000 bail.
Verdin is suspected of attacking the 45-year-old jogger on March 12, as she paused after a run at Point Dume State Park. He allegedly was carrying a knife when he approached the woman.
Verdin, a convicted felon, then allegedly drove off in the victim’s 2004 Toyota Land Cruiser, which subsequently was found after he was arrested.

Hundreds Attend Memorial for MHS Student Killed on PCH

BY ANNE SOBLE


Hundreds of people gathered to reflect on the life of 13-year-old Emily Rose Shane, who was struck and killed by a speeding car while she was walking along Pacific Coast Highway on April 3.
At the gathering at the Malibu West Swim Club, her parents, Ellen and Michel Shane, spoke with open emotion about the young daughter who radiated happiness and was loved by all who knew her.
The Shanes asked that their daughter be memorialized with “a ‘pay it forward’ campaign in Emily’s name.”
Michel Shane said that people should “do a deed, any deed, and tell the person you have done this because ‘Emily asked you to,’ and then that person does the same.”
Shane said that if everyone does this, “One little girl will change the world.”
Meanwhile, the man charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office in Emily Shane’s death remains in custody. His bail has been increased to $3 million.
Sina Khankhanian, 26, was arraigned on the murder charge last week at the Airport Branch of the Superior Court before Judge Keith Schwartz.
Khankhanian, who gave a Winnetka address when arrested by sheriff’s deputies, is scheduled to return to Schwartz’s court on May 6 for the scheduling of a preliminary hearing.
Deputy District Attorney Marna Miller said the defendant is charged with one count of murder.
The complaint further alleges that he used an automobile as a deadly weapon to commit the crime.
If convicted, Khankhanian faces a maximum prison term of life with the possibility of parole.

Missing Woman’s Family Awaits Results from Drone Imaging

• Mother’s Support Group Member Asks Board of Supervisors to Investigate Former Captain

BY ANNE SOBLE


Family members of Mitrice Richardson, who went missing last September, are still awaiting the results of imagery analysis from drone aircraft reconnaissance of the general area of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station and the residential location where she last was reported to have possibly been sighted.
There has been no word in seven months from the 24-year-old honors college graduate who had ostensibly close family ties. Her parents, Latice Sutton and Michael Richardson, have spearheaded numerous publicity and field search efforts to make sure their daughter does not become a missing person statistic.
The drone, a small unmanned aircraft with high resolution photographic equipment, was operated by engineers from San Diego State University who were brought in by the family. After repeated requests, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department agreed to pick up the cost of using the craft in a search effort last Thursday.
The drone was able to fly low into canyons that search teams have had difficulty accessing on foot or by helicopter. Even the most seasoned search and rescue experts acknowledge that the rugged terrain of the Santa Monica Mountains can swallow automobiles whole, and they can remain undiscovered for years until stumbled upon, usually by accident.
The drone, a project of SDSU’s Immersive Visualization Center, has been used in the past to find the remains of missing people after traditional search efforts failed. The drone was used in the high-profile searches for two missing teenagers who subsequently were found murdered in San Diego County.
Richardson, a psychology major planning to substitute teach to fund graduate work, disappeared after she was released from the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station shortly after midnight last Sept. 17. Richardson had been arrested the night before at a Malibu restaurant for not paying an $89.51 dinner bill. Restaurant staff told police she was acting strangely. She reportedly was speaking gibberish.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has organized several searches for the missing woman. However, the parents say the authorities waited too long before the first of these searches took place.
OTHER ACTION
A key member of Latice Sutton’s support team, a psychologist with whom Mitrice Richardson interned while in college, Dr. Ronda Hampton, has begun a battle with the authorities on another front.
In a strongly worded letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Hampton says Tom Martin, the former captain of the Lost Hills Station, “is a liar” and has done “nothing short of interfering with an active investigation of a missing person, and this is unacceptable.”
Hampton made these allegations after viewing a videotape of the missing woman that Martin first denied existed. As a result, she asks, “When will Captain Martin be held accountable for his lies?”
She said the tape also shows that a deputy “left the facility two minutes after Mitrice was released,” and she indicated he should be questioned about this.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Candidates Campaign for Last-Minute Votes in Tuesday’s Election

• Ads and Mailers Bolster Boiler Room Telephone Efforts to Reach Those Who Are Still Undecided

BY BILL KOENEKER


City council candidates are on the last leg of the 2010 campaign trail as the days close in on Tuesday, April 13, the date of the general municipal election when ten council hopefuls are vying for the two vacant seats on the ballot.
Political consultants, printers and mailers have been working nonstop to get candidates’ messages into local mailboxes.
Municipal election precincts have been consolidated, so voters are advised to check in advance where they are supposed to vote. The listing of official polling places was published in the last week’s issue of the Malibu Surfside News and can be reviewed at www.malibusurfsidenews.com
Voters can also check the sample ballot they were mailed to confirm the polling location, since it may have changed since the last election.
There are seven polling places, including Duke’s Restaurant, the Malibu Public Library, Bluffs Park, the Christian Science Church, Malibu High School, the Malibu West Swimming Club and the Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School. The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
The City of Malibu ballot counting procedures will be broadcast live via web stream on the official municipal website at www.ci.malibu.ca.us
The webcast will begin after the polls close at 8 p.m. Election results will be posted on the city website as soon as they have been tabulated.
In addition, voters and other interested individuals can watch the entire vote counting procedure unveil in city council chambers in person.
Sheriff’s deputies will accompany voting officials bringing the uncounted ballots to City Hall.
Meanwhile, the majority of the absentee ballots, those that were mailed in, are counted and are usually posted sometime shortly after the polls close.
Ballots cast in person are tabulated precinct by precinct.
The official canvass of the election results and the council reorganization is scheduled for April 26.

Community Mourns Tragic Death of Malibu High Eighth Grader

EMIL ROSE SHANE

• Driver Who Killed 13-Year-Old Girl Is Expected to Face Charge of Second-Degree Murder

BY ANNE SOBLE



Malibu High school student Emily Rose Shane was struck by a car and killed while she was walking along the westbound shoulder of Pacific Coast Highway near Heathercliff Road, on Saturday, April 3, at about 5:11 p.m.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrested Sina Khankhanian, 26, of Winnetka, on suspicion of murder.
Khankhanian was at the wheel of the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer that hit the 13-year-old.
A preliminary assessment of skid marks at the location indicates that he may have deliberately crashed his vehicle into a power pole, and the car then flipped onto its side.
LASD Homicide Lt. David Dolson told the Malibu Surfside News that Khankhanian told deputies at the scene that he had been drinking and taking prescription medications that were not his.
However, Dolson said the suspect’s blood alcohol count was zero and detectives are awaiting results of toxicology analysis to determine which drugs, if any, were in his system.
Little is known about Khankhanian, but what appear to be his Facebook references indicate he has been active in the “Where Is My Vote?” campaign protesting the current regime in Iran.
On Tuesday, Dolson said the case was filed that day with the District Attorney’s Office with a recommendation of a charge of second degree murder, which is a more serious offense than vehicular homicide.
Khankhanian is in custody with bail set at $1 million.
According to her family, Emily Shane had been visiting a friend’s home in the immediate vicinity and was headed to the signal-controlled crosswalk to go to the shopping center on the other side of PCH to meet a family member.
Her parents, Ellen and Michel Shane, and her two sisters, Gerri and Leigh, who is a senior at MHS, and numerous extended family members expressed their devastation at what they said is “the loss of a beautiful soul.”
Emily Rose Shane would have turned 14 on Aug. 9. Her family said, “Her motto was: dance, love, sing, live.”
Bright, attractive, cheerful and popular, over 700 people have already signed her memorial pages on Facebook. Her distraught father said, “She saw the good in everyone...and they responded in kind.”
His voice breaking with emotion. Michel Shane said he was “learning so much” about how his daughter affected others from the comments of her friends on these pages. “She did so much in her too short time on this earth.”
In lieu of flowers, Emily Shane’s family and friends are urging a “pay it forward” campaign in her name. An individual does a good deed for someone, then that person does a good deed for someone else, and so on. There will be more details in next week’s issue of The News.
MHS principal Mark Kelly sent word of Shane’s death to the school community via the high school’s email network. Grief counselors met with students at the shaken Malibu High School campus on Tuesday.
The funeral was scheduled to be held Wednesday, April 7, 2 p.m. at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Simi Valley, with a memorial service to follow at the Malibu West Swim Club at 4:30 p.m.
Homicide detectives are currently interviewing witnesses to the crash and the driver’s recklessness and speeding as he drove from Topanga to the accident site. At least four 911 calls were said to have been made reporting the driver’s erratic high speed. Anyone with information is asked to contact the LASD Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
BROAD BEACH CRASH
Shane’s death occurred 24 hours after a 43-year-old Santa Monica resident, James Stellar, was killed at Broad Beach and Pacific Coast Highway late Friday afternoon. His car was struck by a vehicle that had drifted onto the wrong side of the highway when its driver allegedly dozed off, according to the report by Lost Hills Lt. Scott Chew.
David Corona, a 19-year-old Oxnard resident, told sheriff’s deputies that he fell asleep at the wheel. His vehicle reportedly drifted across the center lines and was going west in the eastbound lanes when it broadsided Stellar’s car as he attempted a left turn from westbound PCH onto Broad Beach Road.
Corona was hospitalized for injuries following the crash, and investigators have not indicated yet whether charges will be filed.

Suspect Arrested in Recent Point Dume Headlands Attempted Sexual Assault

• Family of Mitrice Richardson Wants Man Questioned about Her Disappearance

BY ANNE SOBLE


Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies have arrested a suspect in the attempted sexual assault of a Malibu woman who was jogging in Point Dume State Park.
The suspect, who bears a strong resemblance to the LASD composite circulated after the attack, is Christian Marcus Verdin, 31. He was arrested Friday, April 2, in San Bernardino County.
Deputies reported that Verdin was arrested after his DNA was matched with material found at the crime scene. Fingernail scrapings from the victim who vigorously fought off her attacker helped to provide the sample.
The attempted sexual assault took place midday on March 12. According to the LASD report, the 35-year-old local resident had just finished jogging on the headlands when a man grabbed her from behind and attempted to rape her.
The woman said she was able to fight off her attacker and escape by jumping/sliding over the side of a bluff to safety.
Sheriff’s deputies said the suspect did not follow the woman, but stole her Toyota Land Cruiser and fled the scene. The vehicle remains missing.
The victim was treated at a hospital for cuts and bruises sustained during the assault.
Verdin is described as a known drug user and reportedly is on parole for burglary. As a result of the felony conviction, a DNA sample was taken and entered into the database system.
In related news, Latice Sutton, the mother of 24-year-old Mitrice Richardson who has been missing for over six months, sent an email to Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Captain Joseph Stephen Jr., expressing the view that “Christian Marcus Verdin, who is in your custody, could have information regarding my daughter. I am strongly requesting that Christian Marcus Verdin be investigated in the disappearance of Mitrice.”
Sutton said, “We know he is a recently released (2009) convicted felon, living among the homeless (goon squad) in Malibu.”
She added, “It’s not unreasonable to suspect that this predator has information regarding, and/or knows the whereabouts of my daughter.”

City of Malibu Makes Formal Request to RWQCB to Reconsider Septic Ban

• Board Is Being Asked to Take Look at New Research

BY BILL KOENEKER


Malibu city officials announced this week that they have filed a formal request asking the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to reconsider and amend its Nov. 5 decision prohibiting septic systems in the Civic Center over the next five to nine years.
Since that decision, municipal officials say that they have evaluated the proposed ban and determined that its scope makes it technically infeasible.
“The infiltration area is not available for dispensing large quantities of treated wastewater into a small aquifer,” said City Manager Jim Thorsen in a municipal press release dated April 6.
“In other words, the current [RWQCB] plan leaves the city with a whole lot of treated water and nowhere to put it,” his statement added.
Thorsen contends that even after maximizing recycling opportunities, complying with the Regional Board’s resolution would require the city to install an ocean outfall or discharge into the Malibu Creek aquifer to disperse the treated wastewater.
Malibu municipal officials say they are certain that either approach could face strong opposition from environmental groups and others, who would delay or block such a plan.
The city’s latest conclusions are based on the RWQCB tentative septic prohibition order that includes nearly 550 homes and businesses in and around the Civic Center area.
The order is still pending before the State Water Resources Control Board, which must approve the Regional Board’s action.
Malibu’s latest request was accompanied by what city officials say are several “significant, recent scientific studies, some of which have been published” since the RWQCB’s order.
The latest research, according to the city, suggests storm water management is the most effective measure that can be taken to improve water quality in the area and that to the extent wastewater treatment measures may improve water quality, centralized treatment of a smaller area than currently proposed would produce greater results.
City officials say the underlying purpose in making the request “is to have science lead the solution to improved water quality.”
The city submitted three recent studies that they maintain support the conclusion that “Civic Center septic systems are not a significant source of groundwater contamination or degradation of water quality in the ocean or Malibu Creek.”
Municipal officials attribute improved water quality to Malibu’s “strict rules regulating new septic systems,” and, according to other studies, “proves that disinfection works and should be considered as a realistic option for protecting water quality.”
The studies include an independent University of California at Los Angeles study conducted in 2009, a United States Geological Survey study conducted in July 2009 and a study of groundwater impacts in the Malibu Civic Center that was commissioned by the RWQCB and conducted in 2009 by Stone Environmental. Malibu’s plan calls for a smaller system in a smaller area focusing on businesses and homes located close to Malibu Creek.
The city’s plan comprises three phases. Phase 1 is a centralized wastewater treatment plant completed by 2015 to treat up to 190,000 gallons per day. Phase 2 is a centralized treatment plant expansion for Serra Retreat completed by 2019. Phase 3 is a request for Malibu Colony homes and beachfront restaurants to upgrade each individual system to include the disinfection process, completed by 2019.

Filings Show Funding Is Playing a Key Part in 2010 City Council Campaigns

• Some Candidates Loan Selves Big Bucks

BY BILL KOENEKER


The second pre-election filing period for campaign disclosure statements for city council candidates demonstrates that it has apparently gotten more expensive to seek office in Malibu.
Some candidates have beefed up their war chests with loans or contributions that have ballooned to nearly $40,000.
John Mazza, Mike Sidley. Harold Greene and Steve Scheinkman have loaned themselves thousands of more dollars and stepped up cash contributions to develop big war chests.
Mazza reported a total contribution tally from donors and loans at $37,690; Sidley reported a total of $34,624; Greene reported $32,971; Scheinkman reported a total of $29,136.
Mazza has loaned himself $20,000 over the last two months of the campaign. Sidley has also loaned himself a total of $20,000, while Scheinkman has committed a total of $13,386 during the same time frame.
Harold Greene indicated that he has loaned his campaign a total of $29,523.
Two candidates who support each other’s election, Laura Rosenthal and Lou La Monte, have continued to rely solely on cash contributions, totaling $20,328 and $24,868 respectively.
Spending has remained high for all of the candidates and even higher for a select few.
Mazza has reported spending $22,260 during his campaign with just days to go before Election Day on April 13.
Sidley reported expenditures of $22,592 during the last 60 days.
Scheinkman has spent $29,474 during his run for office.
Greene has reported spending $24,825 thus far.
Rosenthal has spent $14,442 while campaigning for a council seat, while La Monte reported his expenditures at $19,886.
Gillespie reported loaning himself less than a $1000 during the last 30 days and has spent $6598 during his campaign.
Kofi reported spending $2419 and listed a loan to himself of $5775.
Jan Swift did not report taking in any money nor spending any.
Matthew Katz’s filing forms were incomplete.