Malibu Surfside News

Malibu Surfside News - MALIBU'S COMMUNITY FORUM INTERNET EDITION - Malibu local news and Malibu Feature Stories

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Proposed View Restoration Ordinance Is Debated as Formal Hearings Set to Begin

• There’s the Largest Turnout Yet for Public Comments


The Malibu Planning Commission took more public input at its workshop last week on a proposed view restoration ordinance. This time there were many more members of the public than at the previous workshop and almost two dozen speakers signed up to participate in the informal session.
Many of those who spoke renewed the debate about the fairness of such an ordinance and said that privacy should be on the top of the list as a priority.
Chair John Mazza explained this was the last workshop before the proposed ordinance returned to the planning panel for a hearing. The commission is expected to make a recommendation to be forwarded to the city council, which would decide if it wanted to enact such a law or will decide the final shape of the ordinance.
The commission had before them a proposed ordinance that was drafted by the planning department staff and copies of the proposed ordinance written by the now defunct View Preservation Task Force.
Members of the task force were critical of the staff’s version and said that it would present more problems than it would solve as far as the city’s involvement.
Those opposed to any such ordinance were lead by civil engineer and developer Norm Haynie, who said that the trees are property and are as valuable in dollars and cents as a view is.
He said the matter boiled down to one group of homeowners who want a view restored and are trying to enhance their property values, while at the same time they would be diminishing the property values of their neighbors by requiring trees to be cut down or diminished in some way that reduced their property values.
“The trees add value to their property,” he said.
Other critics insisted the law should not be retroactive because that is not fair to the property owners who bought their homes years ago and would now have their expectations changed about their landscaping.
One woman agreed and said she moved to Malibu for the landscaping and would never have moved here if she had known her trees were not protected from the demands of others.
There was even a sidebar debate about the merits of eucalyptus trees, with one homeowner saying they are flammable and should be removed and another homeowner who insisted they were not the torches claimed by others and that hers were approved by the fire department and kept well watered.
However, others argued that not to provide some kind of protection was creating two ranks of citizens since any new residential building must abide by codes that protect the adjacent neighbors from building heights that block views and trees that will grow beyond a certain height and policies that recognize the primary views of nearby residents.
There were also comments about how the proposal did not address views at the beach from foliage and that it should.
Another speaker talked about how the proposed ordinance did not address commercial buildings but only residential.
Commissioners agreed to include language that would cover both commercial buildings and beachfront views.
The privacy issue was also addressed by many speakers who said that was their main concern.
Most insisted that city officials should keep that in mind when crafting a law.
When individual commissioners spoke, the debate heated up even more.
Commissioner Jeff Jennings said he would not support any measure that required city enforcement of the ordinance.
He said folks want to capture the city treasure and would use it for private rights. Jennings said that homeowners’ property values might soar by $100,000 to $200,000 if views were restored. “Would the city take a cut of those profits,” he asked.
Mazza said he did not want to see the city use its funds to pay for mediation. “I won’t support that,” he said. Another debate ensued when Mazza said he wanted the city immunized from lawsuits and said that could be done if the city council was the appellate body. “If we are using the city’s power that can’t be challenged in court,” he added.
However, Assistant City Attorney Greg Kovacevich said that was not the case. That just like any other zoning decision, such as a conditional use permit, the decision on a zoning matter could be challenged.
He said Malibu suffers a greater amount of litigation than most other cities. He said the city wins most cases, but incurs the costs. “It is still out attorney’s fees even if it wins at trial and appeal,” he said.
He noted what was also not talked about was that the view seeker might not always get relief from the ordinance and also might challenge the city resulting in more litigation fees.
Commissioner Joan House, who as a council member always insisted on a balanced budget, said it is the potential costs to the city that is her biggest concern. She said there is no financial analysis of the ordinance and potential financial harm the city could incur.
She also said the ballot measure did not spell out view restoration in such a way that much could be interpreted by the voters approval of it. “It was an inadequate advisory measure,” she added.
Planning Manager Joyce Parker-Bozylinski said she thought she knew what the planning commission’s direction was to her and said she could proceed from there.

Action Vacating Rambla Pacifico Road Postponed Again—Now Set for January

• Now It Was the City Council’s Turn to Seek a Delay


The on-again, off-again, on-again, now off-again scheduling of a Malibu City Council hearing on vacating Rambla Pacifico Road involved for the first time the council when it weighed in on the timing of the hearing.
The further delay of the matter came about this week when the lateness of the hour on Monday night, when the matter was to be heard, caused Mayor Jefferson Wagner to ask the council to discuss a postponement.
It was almost 10 p.m. and there were 25 speakers who wanted to talk to the council, meaning the meeting would go on past the usual 11 p.m. cut-off time.
At first, the council talked about moving the matter to the next meeting on Dec. 13. However, Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich said she would not be attending that meeting.
“I want to be at this hearing. Why not the next meeting?” she asked. The council does not meet Christmas week and the next meeting is Jan., 10.
“That is in another month. Our concern is continuing [longer],” said City Manager Jim Thorsen. “The sooner, the better,” he said.
“I want Pam to be there,” said Councilmember Laura Rosenthal.
A motion was made, and then Councilmember John Sibert said he would not vote for it.
However, Councilmember Lou La Monte said the Rambla Pacfico issue has been going on for nearly 25 years and suggested the January date.
However, City Attorney Christi Hogin, who previously had called for a postponement, said the staff recommendation was Dec. 13.
Then Conley Ulich withdrew her motion, and Sibert offered a motion with the Dec. 13 date. There was no second.
The mayor then said, “It is back to January.” Whereupon, another motion was made for that date, and it was approved on a 4-1 vote with La Monte dissenting.
For months, the city’s Public Works Department has stated the city was ready to consider vacating the easements to the mountain roadway, but the agenda item has continually been delayed.
Most recently, despite a staff report recommending the council could go forward with a vacation of the road, the city attorney, at a previous hearing, sought to postpone the matter.
More than a half-dozen hearings have been scheduled and subsequently postponed, some without explanation.
The Lower Rambla Pacifico Road Owners Association is trying to put in a private emergency access road to reopen Rambla Pacifico Road but keep running into more legal roadblocks.
A public works report recommends the city vacate the road and indicates the city is prepared to do that now.
The staff report, prepared by the city’s senior engineer, states municipal officials have finalized the legal description and associated map and, “We are ready to vacate the road easement.”
At a previous hearing that was postponed, Hogin had said she wanted to sort out the lengthy process and called for continuing the matter.Council members did not ask any questions, nor did they ask why the hearing had been postponed so many times.
The ROA had pleaded with the city council at still another meeting to not go forward with the vacation until they finished their road.
At that meeting, Hogin said nothing, but City Manager Jim Thorsen insisted the hearing would go forward.
The ROA has continued to work on the road, except for a section near the La Costa property, where the city issued a stop-work order, according to City Manager Jim Thorsen.
The engineer’s staff report states the city’s road easement does not give the municipality the legal right to permit construction of a private road. The city can only retain the easement or vacate it.
The public road easement cannot be transferred to individual parties nor can it be sold by the city, according to Senior Civil Engineer Robert DuBoux.
The staff report recommends the city not retain the public road easement, or obtain any other easements within the roadway, as the street would then be subject to public road standards and must be accessible to the public at large.
Otherwise, the city might incur liability or be partially liable or perceived to be responsible for private hillside and roadway operations and maintenance, according to the report.

City Council Denies Appeal of Malibu Inn Permits—But Does Change Hours

• Local Night Life Is Seen as a Major Public Safety Issue


An attempt to reverse the Malibu Planning Commission’s approval of the live entertainment permit and other entitlements for the Malibu Inn restaurant made by two of its neighbors was unsuccessful this week when the Malibu City Council unanimously approved the permits.
Mayor Jefferson Wagner recused himself from the hearing, saying his financial interests at the pier and elsewhere in the area prevented him from casting a vote in the controversy.
The neighbors, Robert Allan and Klaus Obermeyer, appealed the commission’s approval of a Conditional Use Permit and joint use parking agreement for live entertainment and a liquor license with operating hours between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m.
The council changed those hours, curtailing the weeknight closing hours, but allowing the same closing at 2 a.m. on the weekends with a cut-off time at 1 p.m. for the serving of liquor.
In an apparent show of how prominent and powerful the city’s public safety commission is perceived to have become, many speakers called on the council to refer the matter to that panel for recommendations.
The council stopped short of doing that when City Attorney Christi Hogin appeared to frown upon it and indicated that the panel could not make decisions on an appeal for the council.
Council members were told that there would be a cumulative effect, when other dining venues open for business on that same strip of Pacific Coast Highway.
The two restaurants now under construction will also be serving alcohol, as well as the currently operating Beachcomber across the highway.
Community activist Cindy Vandor echoed many of those in the community who were supporting a public safety commission review of the project.
“If you have decided to approve Malibu Inn pouring drunken drivers onto PCH, then you have decided to let PCH be deadly,” Vandor said.
Susan Saul, a member of A Safer PCH, a community group concerned with local traffic issues, agreed, saying the matter should be sent to the public safety commission.
Saul also indicated that the sheriff’s department had not yet signed off on the conditions that were supposed to be agreed upon by the applicant.
There were just about as many public speakers in favor of the appeal being denied. They endorsed the reopening of the Malibu Inn, calling it the last iconic institution left from the olden days of Malibu.
They spoke about when name acts appeared, about the famous breakfast of 25 years ago when it was the omelet parlor and how the Inn served as a watering hole for the “Wild West days” of Malibu.
Though the council questioned the parking and how many patrons would be allowed, they concurred with the commission, which established a maximum restaurant seating capacity of 94 patrons and a maximum capacity of 340 patrons for entertainment events in the 8900 square foot commercial building.
The joint use parking agreement calls for the required parking spaces to be located on an adjacent property. The council agreed that a parking valet should be conditioned for events.
The appellants also complained the number of patrons allowed for each event would outstrip the ability of the security that was needed.
The council agreed and attached another condition that requires a security guard when there is an event of at least 100 people.

Municipal Staff Fundraising Activities Raise Issues of Propriety and Influence

• First Disclosure of Practice that Has Been Abused Elsewhere


It was just after local resident Sally Benjamin reported to the Malibu City Council this week that the Malibu Knolls Homeowners Association was donating $2500 sought by city staffer Craig George for a municipal project that eyebrows were raised.
The puzzlement sensed at the disclosure was further fueled by Knolls resident Steve Uhring, who said he had heard staff fundraising was underway in all quarters of the city.
Uhring emphasized he did not think anybody was on the take, such as was occurring in the City of Bell, and was quick to point out that he thought everybody on the staff and city council was beyond reproach, but he nevertheless thinks that fundraising by municipal employees is not a good idea.
“This is a train wreck waiting to happen,” said Uhring, who added that no matter how honest everyone in Malibu government may be now, down the road there could always be the possibility or temptation for abusing the public trust, even in the post-Bell environment of greater transparency and accountability.
Council members immediately turned to the city manager to respond to the concerns.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said the fundraising solicitation efforts are being asked of what he called stakeholders in the groups of commercial property owners and homeowner associations that are within the boundaries of the Civic Center septic prohibition.
Thorsen said the city has determined that there are data gaps in some of the research and studies of the groundwater in the area and the stakeholders and HOAs involved are being asked to donate funds to expedite the studies.
“It is completely voluntary,” he said. There was no indication of whether those making contributions would receive anything special in return, or the taxable status of such funds.
The city manager indicated that the money is put into a specially designated fund.
That explanation appeared to suffice for the council members, who asked him no further questions, and did not inquire of the city attorney about the practice.

Malibu Man Dies in Crash

Malibu resident William Corrodi, 35, was killed last Tuesday at approximately 6:30 p.m. in a solo vehicle accident on Grayfox Street on Point Dume.
Lt. Tracy DeMello, the Malibu liaison at the Malibu Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, confirmed that Corrodi, who was riding a dirt bike struck the open tailgate of a parked truck at the bottom of Grayfox Street, unable to see the obstacle in the dark. The impact caused what was described as severe trauma to the victim’s torso. He was declared dead at the scene.
Toxicology findings are not expected to be complete for several weeks. However, sheriff’s representatives have confirmed that two containers of beer were found in the victim’s coat pockets.
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 27, at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Malibu Church, 3625 Winter Canyon Road.

Wildlife Conservation Board OKs Funding for Malibu Lagoon Proposal

• Critics Say Plans Are Too ‘Aggressive’


Despite vocal protests from a Southern California environmental group, the state’s Wildlife Conservation Board approved a $4 million grant to the Malibu Lagoon restoration project at its meeting in Sacramento last week.
The lagoon funding, which comes from Prop 50 money, is described as consistent for such a project, because it allows for the restoration of a coastal wetlands.
However, Wetlands Defense Fund head Marcia Hanscom and her supporters went to Sacramento to object to the board allocating such funds and attempted to get the state panel to deny the funding.
Hanscom and other critics oppose what even proponents call “aggressive” restoration measures, such as bulldozing the lagoon.
Suzanne Goode from the state Department of Parks and Recreation spoke on behalf of the project.
Board members discussed the matter and decided the proposal, nevertheless, fit into the scope of funding goals and objectives.
Last month, Hanscom and other critics were also unable to persuade the California Coastal Commission, which granted State Parks a permit, that there was a feasible alternative to restore the small estuary which is plagued by poor water quality.
Hanscom said the group is still weighing its options, but might decide to take legal action and has even been raising funds for a legal battle.
The Wildlife Conservation Board, which operates under the auspices of the Department of Fish and Game, approves funding for wildlife habitat projects, restoration and wild-oriented public access, according to its website.

County Supervisors Give Major Push to Plastic Bag Bandwagon


A major local environmental organization is calling the plastic bag ban approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last week a “powerful message nationally that plastic pollution plague can be abated.”
Heal the Bay praised the county board’s ban on the distribution of single use plastic shopping bags at grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies in the unincorporated areas of the county beginning next July.
The group described it as the largest municipality in the nation to ban plastic bags with the action expected to trigger other actions by other governments throughout the state.
The county decided to enact the prohibition after the plastic bag industry reportedly failed to meet voluntary reduction targets set in 2008.
Under the county measure, retailers will still be able to distribute paper bags , as long as they contain at least 50 percent post consumer content. Shoppers who forget their reusable bags have the option of purchasing paper bags at checkout for 10 cents each.
The ban will begin in a phased rollout beginning in July. Plastic carry out bags will then no longer be available in various venues.
Other cities in the state including Malibu have already enacted bans. An effort to enact a statewide ban ended in failure.

Poet Reflects on the Beauty of the Impermanent in Book That Has Its Roots in Malibu


Tai Carmen—Thaïs Carmen Albert—grew up on her family’s ranch in the Malibu hills with what she describes as an amazing menagerie of pet animals that included horses, goats, sheep, wild burros, parrots, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and numerous cats.
She was a creative and imaginative child, and her parents, actors Edward Albert and Katherine Woodville Albert, encouraged her interest in writing and music.
Today Carmen lives in Oregon, where she is pursuing music and creative writing rather than the family tradition of acting.
Carmen, together with her husband John Wagner, is working on a new album, following the success of their band Sugar in Wartime’s first release, “Out of the Woods,” in 2007. She has also just completed her first book of poetry, “Pollen,” which is being published by Finishing Line Press.
The poetry in the collection is primarily autobiographic, ranging over the past 10 years of the poet’s life.
Many of the poems in “Pollen” are deeply rooted in Malibu. Several are filled with the raw pain of loss Carmen felt on the death of her father and grandfather.
Others, passionate or austerely beautiful, record gentler memories, like the piano that she received when she was 10 years old—a gift from her grandfather, actor Eddie Albert, that is still a tangible reminder of the bond they shared.
Carmen recently spoke with the Malibu Surfside News about her new book.
MSN: Would you like to share some thoughts on growing up in Malibu? Has it influenced your art?
Carmen: I was probably most influenced by the beauty of the natural landscape. My experience of growing up in Malibu wasn’t “life styles of the rich and famous.” I went to school in the Valley and we had a very modest home, built by a preacher in the sixties.
We lived so far off the beaten path it wasn’t even considered part of Malibu for a long time. So the Malibu I remember isn’t one of big houses or infinity pools, but one of the ocean, the peace and mystery of the tides; the canyons and the smell of creek water and shady chaparral; the wild mustard flowers that crack open in the spring and the heady atmosphere of wildfires and winds when the Santa Anas start to blow.
In short, I guess it provided me with a sort of bubble to grow up in, a place that preserved my sense of wonder, of the world being beautiful, for longer than perhaps the average child.
I guess it gave me a good reserve, so that when the bubble inevitably burst and I realized the world is in many ways a harsh and unforgiving place, I was still equipped with the ability to see that one poetic shimmer in a thing.
MSN: Tell us a little about the current chapter of your life.
Carmen: My husband and I moved to Portland about three years ago and it’s been very kind to us.
We run a recording studio in a converted barn on the outskirts of the city, which has been going strong for almost two years now. I’m working on my first novel and most days I write in the barn loft in my little writer’s nook while John records bands and the music fills our home.
MSN: What was the genesis of “Pollen” ?
Carmen: Some of the poems were written as far back as nine years ago, in college. Others take place after college, when my dad was sick. Still others were written in the aftermath of that, and there are some pieces I’ve written since getting married and moving to Oregon.
I picked the ones I felt had stood the test of time, as well as some more recent pieces I liked. From there I noticed a theme—cherishing impermanent beauty, mortality and a bit of the existential crisis, to be honest.
MSN: What is your process for writing poetry?
Carmen: Through habit, and natural tendencies, I guess, I’ve trained my mind to perceive the world in terms of language and description.
If I see something [that is] beautiful, or touching, or strange, my first thought is usually: how would I describe that? So when a particularly vivid line comes out of that train of thought, I jot it down, and from there a poem is often born.
After I’ve written it, I shelve it for at least three months for perspective, and then eventually get back to reading it with a fresh mind. If it still sings, it goes into the archives.
MSN: Because poetry is so much a channeling of the inner voice, it takes courage and maybe even a little recklessness to share it with the world. How do you feel on the eve of “Pollen’s” publication?
Carmen: Recklessness is the perfect word, and perhaps more accurate than courage. It definitely takes some inner pushing to put one’s inner workings out there as a product. One writes in solitary reverie and then comes the day when you’re to push the poems out of the nest, so to speak, and they’re no longer only yours, and you don’t know what will happen to them.
It’s a lot like having an art opening where your live and pulsing heart is the featured piece. It is scary. But then there is that exhilaration you feel when you’re scared and do it anyway.
MSN: Is writing poetry different from writing song lyrics?
Carmen: To me, poetry is a lot more elusive, a lot more subtle. There is more air and space in a poem. It’s almost like comparing watercolor to ink. Song lyrics are usually a lot more solid and straight forward.
If you say anything too whimsical or esoteric in a song, it’s liable to sound silly when you sing it. But a poem allows for that subtly. A poem is more patient. Songs drive towards more instant gratification, I think.
In a song you want your lyrics to be relatively nonspecific, for most songs, so that a person can listen in a happy mood and feel just as connected to the song as they feel listening to it in a sad mood. They can be in love or broken hearted and the song still gives them something because they see themselves in it.
Whereas poetry thrives on details and specificity. A general poem is usually not a very effective poem, but a song with general lyrics can be universal and very effective. It’s almost like, lyrically, a song is a mirror and a poem is a painting. Still, both require the creativity to work beyond ready-made phrases. Music of course is more forgiving of this, but the best songs say things in a fresh way, as do the best poems.
MSN: Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share?
Carmen: I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Art Saves Lives,” and as risky as it can be to take advice off bumper stickers, I really felt that one summed it up.
Some of the poems were written as a way to process the grief I experienced losing my father, who I loved very much, at such an unexpectedly young age. He was fifty-five, and so full of life, we never expected such an early exit.
Many of the poems I wrote from that emotional space didn’t end up in the book (though several of them did) but whether they went on to be fully formed published poems or just sat in my desk amid other notes, writing them was cathartic.
Art is the great fire through which we can forge our most baffling pains and confusions. Labeling things is one of man’s most basic means of gaining some sense of control. It’s an illusion, of course, but not entirely: what we can name, we can better understand, and what we can understand, we can process. The same goes for any other kind of creative expression, not everyone gets the rush from language. An image or a sound is just as powerful.
Anything that takes that mess life dealt you and spins it in a new way where now you are the creator. It wasn’t just thrown at you any more, you’ve put your twist on it, made something of it, a pearl from sand.
More information on Carmen and her new book “Pollen,” which is currently being printed and is available for pre-order, can be found online at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Negotiations between City and Regional Water Board Seem to Have Run Aground

• City Manager Suggests Setting a Different Course


City Manager Jim Thorsen is expected to tell the Malibu City Council next week that no progress has been made in discussions with the Regional Water Quality Control Board about the Civic Center septic prohibition.
Given the tenor of the meeting in Sacramento where the State Water Resources Control Board chair suggested that there could be some kind of give and take between the city and the regional board, the news will require some hard decisions on the part of the council.
City officials had held out hope that the regional board would be more flexible in its position on the prohibition boundaries and phasing.
The key, according to municipal officials, to the city being able to do any kind of Civic Center centralized wastewater treatment plant that did not involve an outfall depended on different boundaries than currently imposed.
However, Thorsen said the local agency has been inflexible in its stance.
“I have been informed that the regional board is unwilling to discuss any change in the prohibition boundaries or phasing until such time they believe sufficient science has been produced that would warrant a revision,” wrote Thorsen in a memo to council members. “I have been working in supportive cooperation with the executive officer of the regional board over the last two months with the hopeful anticipation that we could make headway on possible prohibition boundaries and phasing changes. This was in light of the state board’s direction for the city to work closely with the executive officer so that compromise could be achieved. I was contacted by Charlie Hoppin, the SWRCB  chair, who is following up on his commitment to stay involved in this issue as all compromise alternatives are explored.”
Thorsen said this is the same position of the regional board that was stated in a letter to the state board before the hearing when the state board gave its approval to the regional board’s action.
The letter signed by the Chair Mary Ann Lutz and directed to Hoppin said the board would only reconsider the boundaries or phasing “If we receive such information as new studies.”
“Since the prohibition boundaries adopted by the board are based on science and natural topography, not political consideration, new studies would have to (a) provide groundwater and surface water monitoring from within and around the area proposed for exclusion, (b) address critical conditions of seasonality, hydrology and pollutant loading and, (c) be approved by peer reviewers who are experts in relevant water quality issues,” the letter states.
Thorsen said that it will take months if not longer for completion of some of the new studies that would point the regional board in a different direction.
The city council has several options in terms of what to do about ongoing design work on any new package plant.
He is recommending the council ceases spending any more money and halts further design work until the scientific reports are finished in the studies are in the hands of the regional board.
“It is fully anticipated that when handed the completed scientific reports, that the regional board would then be willing  to revise phasing and boundaries. During these uncertain economic times, it is not prudent to spend large public resources on a plan that is unlikely to garner support from the regional board nor will it meet their phasing requirements at this time. The city needs to have assurance that the design that is pursued is the design that is expected from the regional board and the one that will ultimately be approved by the regional board,” Thorsen said.
And even in a more somber tone, the city manager predicted the city is likely to fall behind the timetable established by the board and “may fail to comply with the deadlines that have been imposed.”

Lagoon Funding on Wildlife Conservation Board’s List

• Opponents Head to Sacramento


The Wildlife Conservation Board is scheduled to consider funding $4 million to the Malibu Lagoon restoration project at its meeting in Sacramento on Thursday after the Malibu Surfside News went to press.
The board, which operates under the auspices of the Department of Fish and Game, approves funding for wildlife habitat projects, restoration and wild-oriented public access, according to its website.
The funding for the lagoon, which comes from Prop 50 money, is described as consistent for such a project, because it allows for the restoration of a coastal wetlands.
However, Wetlands Defense Fund head Marcia Hanscom has objections to the board allocating such funds and issued a press release saying she and her supporters plan to attend the meeting and will attempt to get the board to deny the funding.
“We were not notified and, in fact, the full budget amount for this project appears to be a secret. This $4 million is on top of $7 million that has already been acknowledged for allocation,” she said.
Hanscom and her supporters oppose what even proponents call “aggressive” restoration measures, such as bulldozing the lagoon.
They were unable to persuade the California Coastal Commission, which granted the Department of Parks and Recreation a permit, that there was a feasible alternative to restore the small estuary which is plagued by poor water quality.
Hanscom said the group is still weighing its options, but might decide to take legal action and has even been raising funds for a legal battle.
“We have to oppose in court, the state and a huge number of agencies who signed off on a plan to destroy native plants and animals,” said Marshall Thompson, a member of the opposition group.

EIR for Major Pepperdine Expansion Plan Is Available Now for Public Comments

• School Officials Downplay Size of Project


Last week, Los Angeles County released the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Pepperdine University’s plans for upgrading existing facilities and creating new amenities “to meet the educational housing, athletic, and recreational needs of today.”
The DEIR marks the start of the project’s public review and approval process.
Pepperdine officials are quick to point out the expansion and upgrades for the entire project are within the developed area of the campus.
The county has called for a 60 day comment period that runs from November until January 2011.
A hearing on the DEIR will be held at Pepperdine’s school of law Caruso Auditorium on Dec. 2 at 5 p.m.
The Final EIR hearings are scheduled for the spring of 2011, according to school officials.
The university will need to acquire a Conditional Use Permit and a parking permit from the county and a Long Range Development Plan amendment from the California Coastal Commission
“We anticipate receiving building permits and our earliest possible construction of any component in 2013,” the school states.
Plans call for 468 new student beds. The university contends the increase in student beds will be built within the same footprint of the existing Seaver College residence halls.
School officials say they will renovate sixteen existing residential halls and add four new common buildings.
“Because the project will not increase student enrollment, these student beds equate to a transition of 468 commuter students to 468 new student residents,” school officials insist.
However, the school also plans 796 net new parking spaces across the campus. School officials explain the parking facilities will be in the interior and northern reaches of the campus away from neighboring residential areas.
Campus officials also insist there will be no additional traffic impacts to the community.
The plans call for transitioning existing parking lots into parking structures. The existing school of law parking lot will be converted into a three level parking structure.
Pepperdine’s reasoning on no impacts to local traffic is that the commuter students will transition to resident students where the school is attempting to provide more amenities on campus.
A resident student is more likely to utilize the community than a commuter student, according to the report, but the local trips are of shorter duration and distance with less frequency.
Student trips into the community are less likely to occur during commuter rush hours, thus further reducing traffic in the area, according to school officials.
Another major component of the proposal calls for a new events center that will consist of a 5000-seat venue that would allow for NCAA regulation volleyball and basketball.
The events center will be relocated to the northern campus interior and provide parking for 830 adjacent parking spaces including 265 new spaces. The existing Firestone Fieldhouse will be converted into a recreation center.
The university is seeking permits from the county since it is located outside of City of Malibu boundaries.
Changes will also be made to the campus quad, turning it into more of a town square as described by designers

Controversial Agenda Items Crowd Slate at Next City Council Meeting

• Members Will Be Faced with Several Difficult Decisions


The council chambers may be jam packed next week when the Malibu City Council takes on an appeal of the permit approvals for Malibu Inn, decides on vacating or not Rambla Pacifico Road and hears about how Malibu Park residents responded to a call for abandoning encroachments on the city’s Busch Drive easements among other agenda items.
The staff has a laundry list of Malibu Park residents’ concerns and suggestions about improving safety on Busch Drive.
The majority of residents present at a recent public workshop appeared to approve of improvement., There seemed to be a consensus not only about removing the encroachments but also about the need to make the roadway safer for drivers, pedestrians and equestrians.
The staff has suggested the council could consider several options including conducting another workshop.
The first workshop was held last month when 35 folks attended.
The meeting/workshop could be held to ask the public to narrow down the type of pathway that could be placed along the shoulder of Busch Drive, such as pedestrian or equestrian or both. The staff is also asking if the council should direct them to begin preliminary designs showing different types of pathways and their costs.
Another suggestion, according to the staff, is simply to have the council decide to direct the staff to clear out a path five to eight feet wide on one or both sides of the roadway and leave it in its natural state for a pathway.
Another agenda item is an attempt to reverse the Malibu Planning Commission’s approval of the permits and other entitlements for the Malibu Inn restaurant. The appeal is being made by two neighbors, who hope they have the ear of the city council.
Robert Allan and Klaus Obermeyer are appealing the commission’s approval of a Conditional Use Permit and joint use parking agreement for live entertainment and a liquor license with operating hours between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m.
The commission established a maximum restaurant seating capacity of 94 patrons and a maximum capacity of 340 patrons for entertainment events in the 8900 square foot commercial building.
The joint use parking agreement calls for the required parking spaces to be located on an adjacent property.
The appellants fought an uphill battle before the commission when many local folks including the mayor threw their support behind the inn and said it would help bring customers into an area of Malibu’s commercial district, which would help other businesses. Mayor Jefferson Wagner owns a surf shop nearby.
However, the appellants claim there was not enough information about parking for the commission to approve a joint use parking agreement.
The appellants also contend the number of patrons allowed for each event will snag traffic circulation and create noise until the early hours of the morning since the inn can close at 2 a.m. and be open again in five hours.
In a staff report prepared for the council hearing, the recommendation by the planning department is for approval.
“After careful examination of the appeal statement and all of the evidence in the record, the staff believes that all of the required findings for approval of the project are supported by substantial evidence in the record.
Accordingly, the staff recommends the city council deny the appeal and approve the project.”`
In other action, the city council hearing on vacating Rambla Pacifico Road is back on the agenda after being taken off previous agenda.
Despite a staff report recommending the council could go forward with a vacation of the road, the city attorney at a previous hearing sought to postpone the matter. More than a half-dozen hearings have been scheduled and subsequently postponed some without explanation.
The Lower Rambla Pacifico Road Owners Association is trying to build a private emergency access road to reopen Rambla Pacifico Road, but keeps running into legal roadblocks.
A public works staff report recommends the city vacate the road and indicates the city is prepared to do that now.
The report, prepared by the city’s senior engineer, states city officials have finalized the legal description and associated map and “are ready to vacate the road easement.”
However, City Attorney Christi Hogin said she was still looking into the matter and at a previous hearing said she wanted to sort out the lengthy process and called for continuing the matter.
The ROA had pleaded with the city council at still another meeting to not go forward with the vacation until they finished their road.
The engineer’s report indicates the city’s road easement does not give the municipality the legal right to permit construction of a private road.
The city can only retain the easement or vacate it. The public road easement cannot be transferred to individual parties nor can it be sold by the city, according to Senior Civil Engineer Robert DuBoux.
The staff report recommends the city not retain the public road easement or obtain any other easements within the roadway as the street would then be subject to public road standards and the road must be accessible to the public at large.
Otherwise, the city might incur liability or be partially liable or perceived to be responsible for private hillside and roadway operations and maintenance, according to the report.

Fatal Crash Rocks Point Dume


A solo vehicle accident on Grayfox Street on Point Dume left one person dead on Tuesday evening, and rattled the usually quiet residential community.
The Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station confirmed that the victim, described as a male in his 20s, appeared to have struck a parked vehicle while riding his dirt bike down the hill on Grayfox Street. According to the LHSS, he was not wearing a helmet.
The victim was reportedly declared dead at the scene. Grayfox remained closed for several hours, while waiting for the coroner to arrive and the accident investigation.
Law enforcement had not released the name of the victim when the Malibu Surfside News went to press on Tuesday night.

Biographer Chronicles Chumash Activist’s Life Story


Chumash Elder Charlie Cooke has spent a lifetime fighting for the preservation of Native American cultural identity and history.
Oral historian Mary Contini Gordon, who has a doctorate from UCLA in educational psychology, has taught graduate courses in quantitative and qualitative research at California State University, Northridge, is in the process of compiling a biography of Cooke’s life.
At a recent National Park Service-sponsored lecture, she shared her information organizing techniques and some anecdotes culled from many hours of interviews with Cooke and his contemporaries.
Over the course of a year, Gordon conducted more than 26 interviews with Cooke, who has been a cowboy, construction worker, archeological expert, Korean War veteran and lifelong Native American advocate. She also traveled with him to dozens of sites that have been important in Cooke’s life and interviewed numerous friends, family members and associates.
The data she amassed—including many hours of phone interviews—has been transcribed and entered into a spreadsheet software program. This unconventional tool has enabled Gordon to sort and organize the information to an unusual degree.
The searchable database and audio of the actual interviews will be archived with the National Park Service when the project is complete, allowing future researchers access to the entire body of oral history Gordon has collected.
Cooke, a hereditary Chumash chief who represents five generations of Chumash heritage, has fought to set standards for archaeological testing and monitoring and continues to testify for the protection of archaeological sites throughout the Chumash people's historic homeland, including Malibu.
According to Gordon, Cooke has had a great influence on how sites are monitored.
Cooke was also instrumental in the creation of the Satwiwa Native American Indian Cultural Center in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which preserves and teaches about the local Chumash, Tongva cultures and other Native American arts and traditions.
According to Gordon, it was often easier to get answers from secondary sources than directly from her subject.
“He does not talk about himself. He's very humble,” Gordon said.
Some of the things Cooke did talk about were early memories. He received his Chumash name, Tiq Slo’w, from his father, because he could see great distances. “Dad gave me the name Tiq Slo’w, Eagle Eye, when I was seven years old,” Cooke told Gordon. Cooke and his father were traveling down a country road together, when young Cooke saw their neighbor’s pick-up truck approaching far off in the distance. “‘How can you see that far?’ my father asked [when the truck came into sight a minute later]. That’s how I got my name.”
Gordon also recounts an early memory that she said influenced Cooke’s entire life. A stranger stopped by his family's ranch and asked his grandfather about their last name, enquiring if the family was Mexican or Indian.
Cooke's grandfather, afraid of the stigma attached to being labeled Native American, reportedly replied “Mexican.” After the stranger left, the boy heard his grandmother shout to his grandfather “You are an Indian and don’t forget it.”
According to Gordon, that moment was a catalyst for Cooke. In 1959, Cooke was appointed hereditary chief, after a family conclave. The title passed from his grandmother to his aunt and then to him, as the most likely member of his generation to keep the tradition alive.
Their trust in him was well placed. Cooke has been influential in restoring the Chumash to their place not just in history, but as a contemporary tribe with a living culture, heritage and traditions.
“There was little awareness that the Chumash [still] existed in the 1970s,” Gordon said, discussing some of the catastrophic impact the Spanish mission system had on the Chumash and other California peoples, and the almost insurmountable difficulties faced by the surviving 20th century California Native Americans in reclaiming their cultural heritage.
“[Now there is an] awareness of California peoples,” Cooke, who was in the audience, said at the end of the presentation. “People thought we were all extinct. The missions took our Native American names.
“We are still here,” Cooke said. “Years ago it wasn’t a good thing to be called an Indian—like signing a death warrant. Our people never forget.”
“Tiq Slo’w, without you, some of the beautiful lands are here that wouldn't be,” Gordon said.
“I’ve tried to create awareness for Native Americans in California,” Cooke replied.
Gordon’s biography of Charlie Cooke is not yet ready for publication. She told the Malibu Surfside News that she anticipates completing the complex project in the next year.
Malibuites interested in learning more about Cooke and the Malibu area’s Chumash heritage are encouraged to visit the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center that Cooke championed and continues advocate for. The center is located in Malibu's backyard, at 126 1/2 W Potrero Road in Thousand Oaks. It offers free, Native American programs almost every weekend. Cooke is a regular speaker, at the center, sharing his cultures stories and traditions.
More information and a calendar of events is available online at

ORAL HISTORY—Chumash Elder Charlie Cooke and his biographer, Dr. Mary Gordon, discussed the process of recording a life history at a recent National Park Service lecture. MSN/Suzanne Guldimann

Mother Urges Additional Scrutiny of Locations Where Mitrice Richardson’s Remains Were Collected

• She Lambastes Internet Bone Mailing Campaign Aimed at Sheriff Baca and Other Officials


Wanting to keep the focus of the county Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Department of Coroner on what happened to Mitrice Richardson, instead of the jurisdictional dispute between the two agencies concerning the improper handling of her remains, the dead woman’s mother is urging that the investigation get back on track.
Richardson is the 24-year-old African-American honors college graduate and beauty pageant competitor who went missing after being booked at the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station in September 2009 for nonpayment of a Malibu restaurant bill. Eleven months later, according to the county coroner’s report, she was found dead due to an undeterminable cause.
Richardson’s mother, Latice Sutton, and a circle of family and friends, have kept the Los Angeles woman’s name in the public eye and closely monitored the efforts to investigate her disappearance and her subsequent death.
Sutton says it is imperative the coroner’s office dispatch its investigative teams to the Malibu Canyon areas where Richardson’s remains were found to determine whether there are additional remains and address whether all of the recovered bones belong to her daughter, or may be commingled with the remains of other individuals.
After that is done, psychologist Ronda Hampton, the young woman’s college mentor and close friend speaking for the mother, in an email to county officials, said it is time to “get on with the business of finding Mitrice’s killer.”
Sutton and others are convinced that Richardson was murdered, but she cautions against rushing to judgment about whether Lost Hills personnel were involved in her daughter’s death until there is proof of that.
Sutton says she thinks it is possible that indifference and incompetence played a greater role than malevolence in the way Lost Hills personnel treated Richardson, who may have been experiencing the onset of a previously undiagnosed bipolar condition, when she was booked for field-citable violations.
Richardson was released after her booking at the LHSS alone, without her car, her purse, or her cell phone, shortly after midnight in the remote industrial area where the station is located.
Although the Office of Independent Review, the arm of the LASD that is supposed to provide oversight on department malfeasance, said there was no wrongdoing by Lost Hills personnel, the chief attorney of the OIR has publicly expressed some personal qualms since the formal report was distributed.
Speaking at a recent chapter meeting of the National Association for Equal Justice in America in Compton, Mike Gennaco said, “If things were done by the book [in the Richardson case], maybe it’s time to change the book.”
Gennaco said, “Deputies do violate the laws. There are good ones and ones that go astray.” He said that three years ago, the LASD hired 1000 deputies within a short time span, and “relaxed their standards. They hired people they never should have. They hired people who were fired by other agencies.”
Gennaco said he concurs with critical assessments that there was “no efficient handoff of information at the station” when Sutton called Lost Hills to check on her daughter’s status and tried to make arrangements to pick her up there.
The OIR top dog added, “This incident can be used as a textbook for things to be improved upon,” and he appeared to agree with critics that the Lost Hills Station may not be a good place to be released in the “middle of the night.”
Hampton’s email to all of the key county officials on the case asks whether the agency officials “might also discuss the confusion about Mitrice’s clothing” and indicate if collection of DNA from that clothing is being contemplated.
Hampton then made the first public reference to the mother having been informed that there were articles of clothing found near the remains said “to belong to an unidentified male.” She said LASD detectives appear to have arbitrarily decided not to collect or test these items, and Hampton asks why they did so.
The circle of women around the mother also say they want to see a speedy resolution of the differences that exist between the GPS coordinates used to designate the locations where the coroner’s office and the LASD each gathered remains in August.
Department of Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter, the agency’s spokesperson, has declined to comment on this issue, nor has he answered questions from the Malibu Surfside News about whether animals might have scattered the remains between the two relatively close sites.
Winter also has not responded to MSN inquiries about whether the small human bone, which was found two weeks ago by Sutton and the rest of her party on their hike out to the area where the first remains were discovered by rangers in an abandoned marijuana grove, is being sent out for DNA testing to determine if it is Richardson’s.
In addition, Sutton is still awaiting word from the coroner’s office on when the bones that are no longer needed for testing will be returned to her, so they can be buried with Richardson’s other remains.
Sutton has also requested an inventory of all of the bones that have been recovered so far, in order to know which bones are still missing, but she said the DOC has not provided one yet.
Not long after distancing herself from an Internet campaign proclaiming that someone, or some persons, in the sheriff’s department murdered Mitrice Richardson and the agency is covering it up, because there is no evidence to support this yet, the mother now has openly denounced a second campaign by the same group.
Sutton stresses that she has no part in and is deeply offended by Richardson’s biological father, Michael Richardson, kicking off what is called the “Bone to Pick” campaign against Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, LASD spokesperson Steve Whitmore, and OIR’s Gennaco.
Michael Richardson and his supporters gathered on Tuesday in Los Angeles to urge the public to package bones left over after meals and other bones of any kind and mail them to the three men’s offices.
He says the goal is to remind the trio about “mistakes they have made in handling [his daughter’s remains in the] unsolved murder case.”
In a formal statement, Sutton said, “I do not want the actions of these people to interfere with the working relationship that we have established in an effort to find out what happened to my daughter. Our focus is on my baby Mitrice, and how she died.”
Calling the “Bone to Pick” campaign “buffoonery,” Sutton said it is disrespectful of the important role that Mitrice Richardson’s bones might play in solving many of the mysteries connected with her case, and added, “My daughter Mitrice would never support this type of antic.”

RECAP—Mitrice Richardson, a 24-year-old beauty pageant finalist and Cal State Fullerton honors graduate with a 4.0 GPA, was preparing to begin substitute teaching, while working on a doctorate in psychology. In September 2009, bizarre circumstances led to her Malibu arrest. After Richardson’s release alone and on foot, without her purse or cell phone, from the isolated Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, she went missing for 11 months. On Aug. 9, her skeletal remains were discovered in a Malibu Canyon ravine. It appears that Richardson might have died not long after the Lost Hills experience occurred.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Two Incumbents and Two Challengers Win School Board Seats

• Voters Split the Difference on Support for Status Quo and Turn Out Current President


For Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education and voted in two challengers.
Santa Monica education activist Laurie Lieberman received the most votes— 15,157.
Incumbent Oscar de la Torre with 13,362 followed her. De la Torre will be serving his fourth four-year term on the board.
Incumbent Ralph Mechur, who was appointed in 2007 and elected to finish out the remaining two years of the term in an uncontested race in 2008, received 12,126 votes.
Challenger Nimish Patel, a district parent who currently serves on the SMMUSD Financial Oversight Committee, unseated current Board President Barry Snell for the fourth seat with a solid margin. Patel received 10,945 votes, Snell finished with 9804.
Pat Cady, a retired district teacher and the only Malibu resident on the slate, received a close 9704 votes.
Santa Monica High School alumnus Chris Bley, who teaches in a neighboring community, received 9177 votes.
Media producer Jake Wachtel, a district parent and the last of the eight to announce his candidacy in the race, received 5064 votes.
A total of 71,365 voters are registered in the district—12,151 of those are in the Malibu area.
In Malibu, Cady received 1598 votes; Patel had 1487; Lieberman, 1349; Snell, 1241; Mechur, 1178; De la Torre, 1019; Bley, 1181; and Wachtel, 679.
In Santa Monica, Lieberman led with 12,416 votes; De la Torre received 11,242; Mechur, 9902, Patel, 8411; Snell, 7571; Cady, 7010; Bley, 6978; and Wachtel, 3870.
Santa Monica residents also voted to pass Measure Y, and its corollary, Measure YY, which proponents say could provide as much as $6 million for district schools, including SMMUSD campuses in Malibu.
Measure Y is a .5 percent sales tax increase in the City of Santa Monica that could potentially generate $12 million dollars for the city coffers.
Measure YY is a “nonbinding proposition” that recommends that half the money generated by Measure Y go to the school district.
When YY was first proposed, SMMUSD officials were reportedly under the impression that any education funding generated by Y would go exclusively to the school district.
However, officials at Santa Monica College have now also expressed an interest in sharing any education-earmarked Y funds.
Y received 15,622 yes votes, with 10,045 opposed. YY earned 17,126 yes votes, with 8196 opposed to the proposition. Malibu residents, whose schools could benefit from the tax increase, were not eligible to vote on the measure, and only those who regularly shop in Santa Monica will be contributing to the tax fund or impacted by it at the cash register.

Unwanted East End Paddles Aren’t Going Anywhere for a While

• The Wheels of Caltrans Move Slowly


Pacific Coast Highway residents at Big Rock and Las Flores will continue to be stuck with the misplaced Qwick Kurb paddles that make their residences difficult to access, according to Caltrans representative Jim Riley.
Riley told the municipal Public Safety Commission that there is “not much movement on PCH regarding [the] Qwick Kurb contract.”
“Core problem areas at Las Flores and Big Rock will be taken care of,” Riley said. “But it hasn’t happened yet.”
“I know that you’ve really been trying to be responsive to public safety,” Susan Tellem said. “I appreciate that, but I feel like we’re treading water on the paddle thing. It’s been months. It makes us look like we don’t care. When it’s an emergency situation like this can you realistically tell us what we might be looking at for removing paddles?
“[The] six month estimate is accurate,” replied Riley. “I’m frustrated as well. It’s a safety project. It’s got to be corrected. I share your concern. I’m frustrated as well,” Riley said.
Crosswalk re-striping plans are also on hold. “Re-striping requests are in, but hasn’t happened yet,” Riley explained. “Thermoplastic material [the reflective paint used for striping] is hard to get, and Caltrans had a machine breakdown problem.”
“Theromplastic paint is almost impossible to get right now,” City of Malibu Public Works representative Richard Calvin concurred. “All of the stripers are pulling their hair out.”
Riley also confirmed that Caltrans is aware of the rumor that the Department of Fish and Game may have plans to close the beach access underpass at Zuma. Riley told the commission that the DFG allegedly will not allow the underpass, which is closed during winter storm season, to be dredged.
“Other public entities have put together alternatives, mostly based on left turn lanes, but none really accommodated peak flows and they did have accurate records to work from,” Riley elaborated.
“Are they saying its an endangered species issue?” asked Commissioner David Saul
“I can’t say,” replied Riley. “But the creek appears higher than the roadway. [That’s a] perilous situation at any time.”
The underpass, which allows west-bound beachgoers to cross under PCH to Zuma County Beach and provides access to Point Dume for Malibu Park residents, is almost always closed in the winter, when storm runoff and a higher water table flood the roadway.
The underpass structure has in the past been documented as a habitat for a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats. Recent efforts to restore and revegetate the Zuma Canyon wetland at the outflow of the creek has resulted in an increase in resident and migratory bird activity, despite an allegedly semi-permanent encampment of homeless people.
Riley indicated that the DFG would leave the area to “go as nature takes its course.”
“I’m concerned for the people who live in Zuma Canyon,” Commissioner Marlene Matlow said, indicating that the underpass was utilized in emergencies. “It’s a tremendous public safety issue. These people have to be able to use the underpass. In a fire they’re really cut off. I wonder if the community is aware of that?
“I don’t think we’re talking about the same place,” Riley said.
“There’s a large community of people blocked from using access and egress in times of emergency,” Matlow elaborated.
The underpass connects to the main Zuma parking lot but also exits onto Westward Beach, accessing Point Dume.
“This needs to be publicized,” Saul said.
Chair Carol Randall suggested that the commission arrange to meet with the DFG. The Malibu Surfside News was unable to confirm with the DFG if the rumored closure has a basis in fact.

Local Electorate Follows Most of the Statewide Patterns that Were Evident in the Recent Election

• State Measures Were a Totally Different Proposition


Slightly more than half of the registered voters in Malibu showed up for last week’s general election, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder’s tally of votes.
There are 8767 registered voters in Malibu, and the county says that 4474 cast their votes last Tuesday, amounting to 51 percent of the registered voters in Malibu.
Compared to the 43 percent of voters that cast ballots countywide, this was a respectable turnout.
It appears that Malibu can no longer be considered a Democratic stronghold, given that in many of the races the Democratic winner won by as few as 300 votes.
That was certainly the case in the race for governor. Jerry Brown got 2310 votes with Meg Whitman following close behind with 2000 ballots cast for her.
In the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Barbara Boxer received 2263 Malibu votes while challenger Carly Fiona took 1963.
Even in the race for Congress, longtime incumbent Democrat Henry Waxman got just 2276 votes against unknown challenger C E Wilkerson and his tally of 1840.
Current Assemblymember Julia Brownley kept her seat by defeating challenger Terry Rathbun, scoring 2146 votes to his 1825.
However, one race that apeared to run counter to the voting trends was the seat for attorney general.
Republican Steve Cooley beat out Democrat Kamala Harris for the office. Cooley persuaded 2115 Malibu voters, while Harris garnered 1880.
Treasurer candidate Bill Lockyer got 2262 votes. Republican Mimi Walters’ received 1593 votes.
The same approximate margin was how Gavin Newsom scored a victory over Abel Maldonado for lieutenant governor with 2299 votes to Maldonado’s 1590 and how John Chiang won out over Tony Strickland for controller, by 2161 to 1757.
That loose formula did not apply to the state meaures, where there was a wide flux of votes depending upon the initiative and many did not reflect the state trend.
Example: There were 2088 yes votes on Measure 21, the State Parks initiative, which was defeated, and 2077 no votes. Prop 23, an attempt to set aside the state’s Global Warming Act, there was a whopping 2837 no votes to 1372 yes votes.
But maybe Malibu can still be perceived as having some liberal leanings. The measure to legalize marijuana, which failed statewide, won handily in Malibu by 2651 yes votes to 1593 nos.

Point Dume Charter School Petition Attracts Advocates and Detractors

• Supporters Greatly Outnumber Opponents at Public Hearing


Advocates and the lead presenters of the petition that would transform Point Dume Marine Science Elementary in to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s first charter school had an opportunity to present their proposal to the board of education at a meeting in Malibu on Thursday.
For the first time, opposition was voiced by a small number of speakers, and a critical questioning campaign, including letters to the editor of the Malibu Surfside News, appears to be developing.
The City Council Chambers were packed with more that 140 people—most in support of the petition. Malibu Mayor Jefferson Wagner, who presented the school board with a letter of support for the charter petition signed by the Malibu City Council, reminded the enthusiastic audience to wave their hands as a show of support rather than applaud during the lengthy hearing, which featured approximately 40 speakers.
Lead petitioners Ali Thonson and Robyn Ross gave a joint presentation at the start of public comments. “One of changes look forward to as charter school is more diversity,” they said. Attendance at the school is currently limited to Point Dume. The charter, they explained, could attract more diversity by recruiting outside the district.
The petitioners reminded the board that nearly half of last year’s Point graduating class—25 children—left the district, their parents preferring not to send them to Malibu Middle School for sixth grade. “ We think [charter] is a viable solution that positively addresses declining enrollment,” they said.
“We’ve met with [PTA President] Wendy Sidley and [Malibu High School principal] Mark Kelly. We are open to creatively sharing resources. As parents of current and future MHS students vested interest in district schools. We are confident the petition not only met but exceeded the requirements. Only five findings can support denial.
“Become our authorizer. By authorizing you ensure collaboration. We want to continue to work with the district.”
The lead petitioners were supported by their legal council, financial advisor and consultant and teachers from the school.
Margo Dunn, one of the original teachers who came to the Point Dume school from Juan Cabrillo Elementary School, when the Point Dume campus reopened in 1994, outlined the school’s history.
It opened in 1967 as a K-6 school, she said. Then, 12 years later the population declined, and it closed. Parents from the two schools were pitted against each other
In the 1990s, class size began to grow. The school reopened as a K-5 satellite of Juan Cabrillo, with a marine science emphasis. “We had no phones, bells, cafeteria or even furniture in all of our classrooms. in 1997 when [the district] reinstated Point Dume. We wanted to make sure the marine science curriculum is preserved,” Dunn said. “Fears have resurfaced. It’s imperative that all Malibu schools stay open.”
“Every morning I drive over Kanan on my way to work. I see former PDMSS families driving the other way over the hill,” said Point Dume teacher Chris Cullem. “Why did they leave? Our aim as a charter has grown beyond just saving our school. [The teachers] struggled and even sometimes battled. Despite, or maybe because of these struggles, the process has been a positive one.” Cullem said that the teachers contributed to all 16 points of the charter proposal.
Susan Baltrushes, a teacher at Juan Cabrillo, expressed concern that the charter would pull students away from her school. “[We are a] very small community, very concerned about diversity. [Point Dume needs] a certain number of students to be a success, and we wonder where they’ll come from. Juan Cabrillo? Point Dume does not have the same ethnic and economic diversity, very few minorities and disabilities. We fear it will drain our student population. We fear a preferred school. Charter is not a good choice.”
“Although I understand that the parents of Point Dume are worried that their school may close, I have concerns...I worry that some students will want to go to Point Dume from Juan Cabrillo and Webster,” said Juan Cabrillo parent Jill Matthews. She also expressed concern over what she called the sixth grade component. “I suggest offering K-6 at all Malibu schools, or all district schools,” she said.
“While we do need a certain number of students to be successful, we have no outreach plans,” said Robyn Ross. “One of our big concerns and goals is to increase diversity, that’s going to mean reaching out to other areas [not other Malibu schools]. We will address that. It’s a goal for us. We are quite limited where we can draw students from now.”
“I would like to say that I am thrilled that there is a plan to keep sixth graders on an elementary school campus,” Diane Glazer, a district parent who said she is also a licensed therapist and teacher, said. “We ask them to grow up too quickly. It is so much to their benefit if we can leave them on an elementary school campus.”
Malibu Middle School teacher Ari Jacobs expressed job loss concerns. “I’m concerned about unintended consequences,” he said. “Fewer students coming to MHS, the need to reduce staff by two-to-three teachers.”
Several speakers countered Jacobs’ argument, saying that Malibu High School could potentially regain some of the numerous students who leave the district after fifth grade for private schools that offer a more secure environment and zero tolerance for drugs and bullying.
Special education advocate and district parent Laureen Sills spoke in favor of the petition, addressing the special education component. “The people putting together the charter’s special education did due diligence. Charter schools that are public schools must be treated fairly and the same manner. Children with disabilities must be served in the same manner.”
Malibu City Councilmember John Sibert recalled the previous closure of Point Dume school and the impact that it had on the community. “I’m speaking not as council member, but as a resident of the Point since ’85. [The school] is a unique place and I don’t want to lose it. It’s changed the neighborhood. I don’t want to lose that. I’m very much in support.”
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal indicated she supported the charter, but recommended that the school remain K-5, saying her sons would not have wished to remain in elementary school for another year. “I really hear what Cabrillo teachers and parents are saying. Change is hard and change is scary, but change is good. Please keep it in our district. Keep continuity going.”
“If the board had intimated that Juan Cabrillo or Webster would be closed I would be in their position,” said MHS PTA president Wendy Sidley, whose husband Mike Sidley is an opponent of the charter plan. “My concern is with sixth grade. In secondary school it means more than just the loss of teachers, it means programs changed. Keep sixth grade at Malibu High School. It’s the best thing about our campus that the middle school kids and high school kids work together. It implies that this a little scary but it’s not.
“One thing that has surprised me has been some hostility, vitriol and rumor in Malibu and Santa Monica,” said Point Dume parent and petition advocate Karen Farrer. “Its counter productive. Please don’t do that. Yes, we are proposing to do something new, It might be a little scary…[but] we would prefer to work under SMMUSD, not another authorizer.”
The debate reminded some longtime observers of the bitter fight over the closure of the Point Dume school in 1980.
“The Point Dume parents were powerless last time,” a longtime resident told The News. “This is a very different situation. The charter supporters are well organized, have money and legal expertise, and determination. If they’re forced to take the petition to the county, they will, and it will b the district’s loss.”

Local Public Safety Issues Continue to Crowd the City Council’s Regular Agendas

• Costs Have to Be Weighed against Benefits


The Malibu City Council dealt this week with several agenda items that were once again focused on public safety issues.
Councilmember Lou La Monte announced that he had attended a meeting in Monterey Park last week when Sheriff Lee Baca had gathered some of his deputies and officials, including Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station personnel and high ranking officials of the California Highway Patrol.
“Baca discussed several issues, including designs to Make PCH safer,” said La Monte, who added that Baca indicated there would be more meetings including Caltrans officials.
The council member, who campaigned on a promise to return the California Highway Patrol back to PCH, had previously announced that Malibu had gotten the ear of both Baca and county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes Malibu, on several key public safety issues where the two men both pledged support, including a return of the CHP to PCH, and a sheriff’s temporary substation.
La Monte also talked about how Baca was in the middle of writing a report on law enforcement recommendations for safety improvements on PCH.
La Monte said Baca reiterated his position about accepting the CHP on the state highway and agreed to help the city in any form it might take including seeking legislation in Sacramento.
In other action, the council members debated whether the city could afford to purchase automatic license plate recognition system. The cost for each unit is $32,000.
The city’s Public Safety Commission had recommended the council purchase two units, one for each side of town.
When Public Safety Commission Chair Carol Randall confirmed the panel’s vote, but said the committee did not consider the costs, “That remains the council’s problem” she said.
After a lengthy debate, the council decided to split the difference and approved the purchase of one camera on a trial basis.
Counncilmember Laura Rosenthal said she was concerned the units might on occasion help apprehend a crime suspect, but the time taken up by such an endeavor would not address public safety on PCH,
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who sponsored the item on the agenda, said she could not fathom why anyone would not want to advocate the benefits even if it stopped just one rapist.
La Monte initially supported Rosenthal’s position. “I have the same concerns as Laura,” he said.
Councilmember John Sibert said while he agreed, since crime is low in Malibu, he suggested the council agree to one unit rather than the two to cut down on costs. “Maybe buy one and try it,” he suggested.
The council agreed unanimously after Mayor Jefferson Wagner said he had no opposition to buying one unit.

The council agreed to another allocation when it approved spending $7000 to restock the six disaster supply caches and direct staff to put together a temporary cache for placement in Las Flores Creek Park.

Vacating Rambla Pacifico Back Before the City Council Members

• Legal Issues Prove to Be Difficult


The on-again, off-again, scheduling of a Malibu City Council hearing on vacating Rambla Pacifico Road is back on.
The city’s Public Works Department has scheduled another hearing for November 22 when the council is expected to consider vacating the easements to the mountain roadway.
Despite a staff report recommending the council could go forward with a vacation of the road, the city attorney at a previous hearing sought to postpone the matter. More than a half-dozen hearings have been scheduled and subsequently postponed, some without explanation.
The Lower Rambla Pacifico Road Owners Association is trying to put in a private emergency access road to reopen Rambla Pacifico Road, but keeps running into more legal roadblocks.
The public notice for the council’s upcoming hearing, indicates the same staff report for the October 25 hearing will be used. That report recommends the city vacate the road and indicates the city is prepared to do that now.
The staff report, prepared by the city’s senior engineer, states, in no uncertain terms, city officials have finalized the legal description and associated map and, “We are ready to vacate the road easement.”
City Attorney Christi Hogin said this week she was still looking into the matter, when asked if she would present a separate staff report to the council.
At the previous hearing that was postponed, Hogin had said she wanted to sort out the lengthy process and called for continuing the matter.
At that time, she offered no explanation what she was looking for or hoped to find.
Council members did not ask any questions nor did they ask why the hearing had been postponed so many times.
The ROA had pleaded with the city council at still another meeting to not go forward with the vacation until they finished their road.
At that meeting, Hogin said nothing, but City Manager Jim Thorsen insisted the hearing would go forward.
The engineer’s staff report indicates first and foremost, the city’s road easement does not give the municipality the legal right to permit construction of a private road. The city can only retain the easement or vacate it. The public road easement cannot be transferred to individual parties nor can it be sold by the city, according to Senior Civil Engineer Robert DuBoux.
The staff report recommends the city not retain the public road easement or obtain any other easements within the roadway as the street would then be subject to public road standards and the road must be accessible to the public at large.
Otherwise, the city might incur liability or be partially liable or perceived to be responsible for private hillside and roadway operations and maintenance, according to the report.

Public Safety Endorses VOP Plan


The City of Malibu Public Safety Commission will be issuing a recommendation to the city council to consider establishing a Volunteers on Patrol program under the auspices of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station.
The VOP program, one of several Pacific Coast Highway safety improvements discussed following a series of highway fatalities this year, was discussed in depth at last Wednesday’s commission meeting.
According to Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Malibu liaison Lt. Tracy DeMello, the estimated cost of the program would be 21-27,000, depending on what kind of vehicle the city could obtain. Other expenses include insurance, uniforms and equipment like police-issue flashlights. The sheriff’s department would provide the training.
DeMello stated that Agoura Hills and Westlake Village, two communities also served by Lost Hills, currently maintain VOP programs consisting of four to eight volunteers. The city recruits the volunteers. The sheriff’s department handles the training and conducts background checks.
“Is there a down side?” Commissioner Susan Tellem asked. “Problems?”
“[Only if you] get somebody in there who gets too aggressive and going overboard,” replied DeMello, adding that the station has not had any problems.
DeMello explained that VOP’s must work as a team—there are always two volunteers in a car—and that they are not authorized to make arrests or issue citations, although they are trained to use the LASD’s radio frequency and can call for sheriff’s back up. They can also be trained in traffic control.
Commissioner Marlene Matlow recalled that the City of Malibu briefly had an earlier incarnation of the VOP program called Malibu Volunteer Patrol. DeMello pointed out that Arson Watch volunteers provide extra eyes and ears for the Lost Hills station, and added that a team of Arson Watch members were patrolling Malibu on Halloween night. “They go out at night, do vacation check, things like that,” DeMello said.
The Lost Hills station also has 1500 volunteers who help with everything from clerical work to manning the front desk, DeMello said.
The commission agreed unanimously that the VOP program had the potential to be a safety asset for the city but expressed concern over the cost for a vehicle.
[It would be] cheaper if the city had a car they could provide,” Tellem said.
“We’re short of vehicles as it is,” Public Works Director Bob Brager replied.
Chair Carol Randall suggested asking for a donation from an auto dealership
[The city is] cash strapped,” Commissioner David Saul said. “It’s a major issue. I would approve it it with the donation of a vehicle. Otherwise don’t think we can afford a 20-30,000 hit.”
Tellem suggested that volunteers might be able to use their own cars, but DeMello indicated that liability would be an issue.
“I have problem dictating to the city council what they can and cannot afford,” Randall said. “ We want to recommend they look at it and then it’s up to them.”
The issue of who would direct the volunteers was also discussed.
“I would like to be able to have the Public Safety Commission, not the city council to direct, since we know where the problems are,” Tellem said.
“I don’t think we can dictate this,” Randall replied.
“The city manager not the city council would direct,” confirmed City of Malibu Executive Assistant Mary Linden. “The sheriff’s station reports to the city manager [but there is] nothing that says the city manager couldn’t come back to public safety and say this is the direction.’
At the end of the discussion, the commission voted unanimously to recommend that the city council implement VOP in Malibu and consider actively seeking donation of the vehicle.

Malibuites Invited to Aid Animal Shelter

The Humane Society of the United States invites Malibu residents to take part in its annual National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, as a way to honor animal shelters and the dedicated people who work to protect animals.
“Animal shelters are vital resources for their communities,” said Inga Fricke, director of Sheltering Initiatives for the HSUS.
“A shelter is a safe haven for animals, and a great place to adopt a new family pet. Shelters also provide critical services like investigating cruelty and neglect, reuniting lost pets with their families, teaching kids to care about animals, and providing spay/ neuter services to help reduce pet overpopulation in their communities.”
According to the Humane Society, there are approximately 3500 animal shelters across the United States, serving an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals who seek refuge each year, but only about half are adopted. While 63 percent of American households include pets, fewer than 20 percent of them were adopted from shelters.
National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week is a perfect opportunity for community members to become acquainted with their local shelter and to help homeless pets.
Malibu residents are encouraged to consider adopting a pet at the Agoura Hills Shelter, which currently has over 100 animals available for adoption, ranging from cats and dogs of every breed and color to rabbits, and chickens, and occasionally goats, sheep and horses.
Donating supplies is another way residents can help—towels, toys, and gift certificates to animal supply shops are usually welcome.
Malibuites who love animals and have a minimum of eight hours a month for at least nine months are invited to volunteer at the shelter, either working with animals or in the office
The Agoura Hills facility is located 29525 Agoura Rd. in Agoura. 818-991-0071. Hours are Monday - Thursday noon - 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Closed holidays.