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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Publisher’s Notebook:

• Malibu Week in Review •


The critics of the Malibu Lagoon project got what they wanted in the form of a year’s delay on any construction and four months to polish their contention that “the project destroys the lagoon in order to save it” before they go back into the courtroom. But heads are still shaking at how this all played out.
That the California Coastal Commission staff, veterans of complex legal morasses who have taken the craft of utilizing documentation to an art form, could have neglected to provide the deputy attorney-general, as well as the court, with the administrative record pertinent to the issuing of a stay is mind-boggling to many.
Not only did the commission staff have three months to prepare the administrative record, just in case the matter somehow had been overlooked, there was a second reminder when the original court date was rescheduled.
Even taking into account that many of the state agencies have not entered the modern electronic communication era, someone should have been able to put files in a box and transport them to the DAG and the judge.
Not surprisingly, given the local penchant for conspiracy theories, there are whispers that this might not have been a bureaucratic blunder, accompanied by conjecture that there is a reason the CCC staff didn’t want the administrative record subjected to legal scrutiny.
Nonetheless, the end result is that project critics have the time they require to refine their concerns in a legal context. The judge has indicated where their case has strengths and weaknesses. They now have to move past the polemic of their campaign to prevent a major physical alteration of the lagoon area and hunker down to a methodical parsing of the California Environmental Quality Act and the Coastal Act for the legal wherewithal to send the project back to the drawing board.
I was pleased to hear from several people who are considering the use of raptor (avian predator) poles as a means for varmint control. One email indicated that a father and his children constructed a pole over the weekend. They purchased the materials over the hill for about $60, and set up the finished product in their backyard. The second night the pole was up, one of the youngsters spotted an owl through the window. His father said the boy was so excited, he ran outdoors, which, of course, frightened the owl away. But it and others will visit, and a natural cycle is now in place.
There already is quiet discussion among some in the business community about how small local businesses might be categorized for some form of a municipal retail formula ordinance and possible rent discounts and other benefits. Among information often required by the Small Business Administration and other public agencies with benefit packages are legal verification of ownership, proof of residency, state and federal tax returns—business and personal, payroll tallies, insurance and worker compensation coverage, ADA compliance, etc. Other issues, as the city explores protecting local businesses, include the requirements for eligibility for special treatment and whether there are quid pro quos.

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