Malibu Surfside News

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Council Takes On View Ordinance

• Hearing Date Had Been Changed to Assure Public Turnout


The Malibu City Council is slated to hold a public hearing on the proposed view restoration ordinance at its meeting on Monday night, Sept. 26.
The agenda item was to be originally heard this summer, but was postponed after Councilmember Lou La Monte said that summer was not the optimum time for public participation.
The citywide view restoration ordinance is described by municipal planners as a proposal “establishing a private right of action for property owners to restore pre-existing views that have been significantly obstructed by landscaping on neighboring properties.”
The majority of the Malibu Planning Commission in June was able to tether together a proposed citywide view restoration ordinance using various parts from other cities, staff and commission recommendations.
A majority of the planning panel turned down a proposed ordinance that would have been more closely modeled after a Rancho Palos Verdes law.`
One commissioner said she could not support such a measure because she did not think most of the Malibu voters supported PV’s ordinance. Measure E, the ballot advisory measure approved by nearly two-thirds of the voters did not go far enough in assessing the public’s wishes. It did not ask if private views should be subsidized by the public treasury. There are lots of people who do not support private restoration with public funds. PV views were designed for everyone. We do have a path to gain views. I support baby steps. This is a baby step,” said Commissioner Joan Mazza.
Another commissioner took a different tack. Panelist John Mazza replied he wanted to point out one version of the proposed ordinance was based on keeping the ordinance revenue neutral, because he did not endorse spending public money on a mediation process.
Commissioner Roohi Stack said she agreed with House and endorsed the staff recommended measure. “We can start in small steps. Palos Verdes is not Malibu. It is not a planned community. We are using public money for private views,” she added.
Commissioner Lisa Toledo said she agreed with Mazza. “It is not necessary for the city to offer free mediation. A good service can be gotten at a good rate. I don’t think we spent enough time on fee structures. I don’t know if we spent enough time on the revenue neutral process. I don’t know if we placed a value on the process,” she added.
Chair Jeff Jennings said the ordinance had been on his mind for a long time and acknowledged it is a difficult problem.
“What we are doing is creating winners and losers. When we rezoned land when we downsized, we did not affect properties already built. I don’t want to put the city in the middle,” he said.
A vote was taken on the Mazza motion and the measure was defeated with Mazza and Toledo voting yes and House, Jennings and Stack dissenting.
Subsequently, the staff-recommended motion was made and the measure was approved on a 3-1-1 vote with Stack dissenting and Mazza abstaining.
Mazza said he was not voting because there was no exemption for folks like Judy Decker, who could be imposed upon by five or six claimants who could potentially cause fiscal damage if they all at one time or another demanded she reduce or remove her foliage and she or others like her had to defend themselves in court.
There were various elements in the staff-proposed ordinance that the commissioners found consensus.
Claimants are permitted one primary viewing area with one view.
Any initial and maintenance costs should be borne by the claimant with any costs of new plantings to be borne by the foliage owner. Removal shall be considered only as a last resort, unless volunteered by the foliage owners were among some of those items.
The impetus for the proposed ordinance came from the voters on April 8, 2008 when an advisory measure asked the citizens, “Should the Malibu City Council adopt an ordinance that would require the removal or trimming of landscaping in order to restore and maintain primary views from private homes?” The measure was approved by 60 percent of the voters.
The then city council decided on June, 2008 to create the View Protection Task Force to gather public input on what should be included in the citywide ordinance.
The now defunct task force met for almost a year and ultimately approved a proposed draft ordinance which was forwarded to the planning commission. During the public hearings and workshops there were some speakers who urged the commission to adopt a proposed ordinance, which was crafted by the municipal task force charged by the city council to vet the issue.
Speakers were on the task force and suggested that the task force’s recommended ordinance would better serve the city.
The now defunct task force met for almost a year and ultimately approved a proposed draft ordinance while two members of the task force prepared a minority report. One of those panelists was La Monte, now a council member. The other was part-time Malibu resident Suzanne Zimmer, who helped La Monte craft a minority report that differed sharply from the majority’s recommended ordinance.
Former task force chair Sam Hall Kaplan, and former task force members Barry Tyreman, Leon Cooper, Marilyn Santman, and Lucille Keller all joined forces to urge the commission to recommend adoption of their proposed ordinance.
Speaking about the ordinance that was proposed by the staff and ultimately adopted by the commission, the task force chair said, “The proposed ordinance is flawed. It is not resident friendly and does not fulfill the measure approved by the voters. The task force ordinance is reasonable…and will best serve the city,” Hall Kaplan said.
It was Jennings and Mazza that led the debate during the various hearings about what the panelists should approve or not approve.
Jennings said the process was asymmetrical in the sense that the claimants, gained views, while the foliage owners simply lost their trees and maybe privacy.
“We should come up with some mechanism that the plaintiff ought to pay for it. The foliage owner should get some relief,” he said.
Mazza said he agreed with one of the speakers, Judy Decker, who urged the commission to include a hardship clause or exemption for senior citizens and those on fixed incomes.
“This doesn’t provide what 60 percent of the people voted for,” he said.
Mazza said he much preferred what he called the “basic guts of the PV ordinance,” such as a mediation paid for by the involved parties and a process where the issue, if not resolved would go to the planning commission and it would be appealable to the city council.
Jennings said the city would be creating a right that does not exist and he felt uncertain about the efficacy of mediation.

City Hires Computer Specialist for Update

• System Purchase Costs $237,350


Municipal officials have been saving for years to obtain enough funding to update their computer software for various departments, but especially for planning and building services.
Last week, the Malibu City Council approved the allocation for the purchase for the system chosen at a one time cost of $237,350 for the first year, an annual software maintenance fee of $28,690 and a onetime travel cost of $7,534.
The firm chosen over 43 respondents is Computer Software, Inc. or CSI, which will do the installation, implementation and support of a system, city officials are calling “integrated community development system software.”
“We are excited about it. We are one of the last jurisdictions to go electronic. That is a good thing. Many of the bugs have been worked out,” said Vic Peterson, who has oversight of the building and planning departments.
Peterson told the council there are many benefits of going electronic including reducing significant storage fees and how an electronic system can service the public.
“Once the system is up and cooking, property and permitting info will be available to the public,” Peterson added.
However, Planning Commissioner John Mazza said now was not the time to be spending any more money even if it had been saved up.
“You just blew a huge hole in the budget with legal fees. There is less of a chance for building to taking off. These are one of those items that can be deferred. The software company is not going away. The building department is not expanding. It is not critical to the survival of the city,” he said.
Mayor John Sibert said, “This is something we talked about six years ago.”
Building Official Craig George reiterated, “The money was allocated from some time ago. We understand about the economic times. It is below budget,” he added.
The council agreed. “I think this is wonderful. It is efficient. It is green. Residents have been looking for this for a long time,” Councilmember Laura Rosenthal said.
“Welcome to the 21st Century,” quipped Councilmember Lou La Monte. “It takes so long for the funds to be set aside,” he added.
Councilmember Jefferson Wagner wanted to know if there were additional costs for upgrade fees. “This will be time saving for code enforcement. How do we obtain insurance?” he asked.
The council was told both were included as part of the service.
“I’ve supported this for a very long time,” said the mayor. “This is very reasonable. I’m supporting it. It came under budget. I’m in favor of it.”
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich was absent.
Currently, all development project applications are in hard copy format and are manually recorded, tracked and permitted. Retrieval of information is also done manually. “This work is time intensive. The implementation of software to perform these duties will expedite the retrieval time and dramatically reduce file storage space as well according to city staff.
The first step in the project is for CSI to meet with city staff from each department to better understand all technical and non-technical requirements related to the city’s community development workflow. After completing the meetings, CSI will prepare a specification of the software system configuration best suited to the city’s needs.
Following city approval of the system, specifications, the city[specific community development software would be configured accordingly. City staff will participate in the process to ensure that the system meets staff expectations and is staff project team, Following the training, CSI will test the system with municipal staff and the city staff project team to ensure optimum functionality. Following testing, CSI will proceed with a ‘soft launch” of the system software to engage additional staff and possibly representatives from other agencies with the user testing process.
Upon system acceptance, CSI will deploy the system on the internet for public view and usage. Additional testing will be done to ensure the business process an technology is functioning as.
After the system is active online and in use by the public, CSI would proceed with ongoing services and operations including system maintenance, user support services, and software updates.
Without comment, the city council unanimously adopted a resolution in support of Assembly Bill 376 to protect sharks and the ocean for future generations by making it illegal to possess, sell, trade or distribute shark fins.
AB 376 was introduced to save sharks and the oceans by banning shark fins for commercial use. Most shark fins are obtained by the inhumane practice of shark finning, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, tens of millions of sharks are killed each year for their fins. Killing sharks at this rate pushes about one-third of open ocean shark specific to the brink of extinction, damaging he ecosystems supporting many other species, degrading habitats like coral reefs and kelp forests and ultimately affecting fish populations.
Current federal and California laws ban finning, but do not restrict the number of sharks killed worldwide and thus do not address the imported shark fin trade, according to proponents.
California represents one of the largest markets for shark fins outside of Asia. Therefore, banning the sale and distribution of shark fins in California will ensure the state ceases to contribute to the supply and demand for shark fins and will have worldwide impacts, according to proponents.
A similar ban was enacted in Hawaii, Oregon and Washington states.

Suspected Undocumenteds Detained after Boat Is Spotted Off Leo Carrillo

• Ten Taken into Custody Had Scattered in Parkland after Being Dropped Off near the Beach


Eight men and two women who are Mexican nationals were detained last Friday after a boat that may have been engaged in illegal human trafficking was spotted offshore in western Malibu.
An interagency law enforcement investigation got underway at about 8:30 a.m. when an empty 25-foot boat—the type of fishing craft referred to as a panga—washed ashore near Leo Carrillo State Beach.
Pangas have become the vessels of choice for the smuggling of human cargo and drugs along the Southern California coast as illegal land crossing at the Mexican border has become increasingly difficult and dangerous.
The interagency team, including Los Angeles and Ventura county sheriff’s departments, state park rangers, local county firefighters, helicopter units and the Ventura office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency joined the effort.
After several hours of combing the rugged brush in Leo Carrillo State Park, the 10 suspected undocumenteds were found several miles from the beach. They were dehydrated but otherwise had come through 15 hours at sea and what may have been a rough disembarking relatively unscathed.
Although there were reports that there were other passengers loose in the area, no additional people were found.
Last Friday’s incident was the sixth in a series of suspected smuggling occurrences reported at or near the Malibu-Ventura County line in recent months.
In July, 15 suspected undocumented immigrants were discovered on Santa Cruz Island, where they reportedly were abandoned by a smuggler.
In late June, a group of suspected undocumenteds was found in Malibu.
In March, suspected smugglers and more than a ton of marijuana were found on Santa Rosa Island after their boat reportedly ran out of gas.
Agency officials decline to speculate how many boat trips are successfully completed.
A dozen or so immigrants and a few crew members is the usual load carried by a boat. Travelers pay as much as $5000-$7000 for the arduous trip on the high seas.
Smugglers will often unload immigrants in dangerous circumstances to avoid being caught with them on board.
ICE has issued alerts asking passersby to call 911 to report suspicious activity along the western Malibu coast. However, the craft often travel without lights, usually arrive in the pre-dawn hours, and may not be readily visible to motorists.
Agency spokespersons indicate that they expect sea smuggling to increase as land border enforcement becomes more stringent.
A major concern is that, in addition to human cargo, there is narcotics trafficking. It has been confirmed that some passengers cover part or all of the pricey journey by acting as mules, or couriers, for drug dealers.

MLPA Implimentation Faces Delay

• Lawsuit Filed by Fishing Interests Moves Forward


Southern California’s 36 new Marine Protected Areas, which include a State Marine Reserve and State Marine Conservation Area off of Point Dume will not go into effect on Oct. 1 as initially proposed. The California Department of Fish and Game Commission will discuss alternative effective dates for implementation of the MPAs at its Sept. 15 meeting in Redding. The October date was proposed at the commission's June meeting.
The announcement was made after the Office of Administrative Law informed the commission that “they are unable to approve the Marine Life Protection Act south coast MPAs regulatory package in time to make it effective Oct. 1,” a press release states.
According to the announcement, “It is a complicated package and OAL informed the commission that it has additional questions and requests for more information that will require a re-notice.”
Complicating the issue are a number of lawsuits filed by fishing interests.
“There are more than one lawsuit being filed but the one [that]
seems to be the foremost and will be heard before Oct 1,” Longtime Malibu resident and fishing advocate Shari Latta told the Malibu Surfside News.
That lawsuit was filed by members of the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans, a coalition of fishing groups, including recreational anglers, sportfishing organizations, boaters and companies that manufacture fishing equipment.
United Anglers of Southern California, one of the organizations participating in the lawsuit, released a statement following the DFG announcement stating that the delay “means that anglers will now have more time on the water.”
On Dec. 15, 2010 the DFG commission adopted regulations to create the new network of 36 MPAs in the South Coast Study Region, which extends from Point Conception to the Mexican border. There are currently 13 MPAs and two areas of “special closures,” in the region. When the new MPAs are implemented there will be a total of 49 MPAs, which represent 354 square miles, or approximately 15 percent, of Southern California's coastal waters, according to the DFG.
In Malibu, an area stretching from the western end of the Paradise Cove parking lot to the outflow of Zuma Creek will receive the highest level of protection as a State Marine Reserve under the plan.
The proposed SMR includes a submarine canyon off of Dume Cove described repeatedly by the Science Advisory Team as a rare and vitally important habitat that urgently needs the highest level of protection.
The SMR also covers a substantial portion of the hotly contested reefs east of Point Dume, including Big Kelp Reef, a favorite fishing area for kayak anglers and the spearfishing community.
The SMR will be a no-take zone that prohibits all types of fishing. However, fishing boats, including kayaks, would be permitted to transit a SMR with catch on board. Non-extractive activities, including surfing and swimming, will not be impacted.
The State Marine Conservation Area will extend west from Zuma Creek to El Matador State Beach. The SMCA would permit limited fishing activities, including recreational spearfishing for Pelagic finfish, Pacific bonito and white seabass, and commercial take of market squid, coastal pelagic finfish and swordfish.

Critics Say Demolition Will Destroy Architectural ‘Gem’


Plans to demolish a Point Dume house designed by architect Bart Prince in 2004 and replace it with a larger and taller house have generated numerous concerns. The project was scheduled to be heard by the City of Malibu’s planning commission in July, but the hearing was postponed, and is anticipated to be postponed again at the planning panel’s meeting on Sept. 6.
The property owners are seeking a coastal development permit to build a 5710-square-foot residence with a 930-square-foot basement, 482-square-foot detached garage, 450-square-foot cabana with a 250-square-foot studio, 400-square-foot trellised carport, swimming pool, spa, a variance to make the new structure 28 feet high, and a variance for a yard setback reduction of 50 percent—from 65 feet to 32.5 feet.
The new project requires the complete demolition of the 5000-square-foot, six-bedroom, six-bath glass and concrete home designed by Prince and built in 2004. The existing residence consists of a series of six two-story diamond-shaped segments that cascade toward the canyon and a terraced garden. Construction materials include walls of glass, steel, polished concrete, maple wood, granite, and iridescent tile.
Neighbors have expressed concern about the impact the project will have on their views, the geological stability of the canyon and the impact on the environmentally sensitive habitat below.
The property’s neighbors to the north, Chad Smith and Nancy Mack, have retained Frank Angel, a longtime Malibu attorney who specializes in environmental public interest litigation, because they are concerned about the impact on their primary view and the potential for the project, which has a footprint that encroaches into the canyon behind the homes and includes a swimming pool and extensive landscaping and irrigation, to destabilize the hillside.
The CDP seeks “grading, landscaping and restoration of slopes in excess of 4:1 that have been modified by development construction of the previous owner without benefit of permits.”
A petition circulated by area residents raises concerns about how demolition projects and the massive houses that are replacing existing homes are changing the character of the once rural and low-key neighborhood.
The project has also attracted the attention of architectural preservationists, who are critical of the complete destruction of the Bart Prince home.
“It is internationally recognized that Southern California has the greatest collection of architectural residences in the world. They are an important part of our rich history. These homes are works of art and for many reasons would be impossible to build today. When they are gone, they are gone forever,” architectural preservation activist Kelly Lynch told the Malibu Surfside News.
“If this demolition is not stopped it will be the third architecturally important residence to be razed this year alone,” Lynch said. “There are probably more as well. There have certainly been many others destroyed in the past decades.”
“[City of Malibu] planners are] exempting discretionary planning commission action from the California Environmental Quality Act,” Angel told The News.
“CEQA offers a pause to think. By avoiding CEQA, city planners aren’t given time to think, to make an informed decision about what is being torn down.
“Malibu’s demolition case qualifies the city planners for the gold medal of shame for additional reasons. Consider the dumbfounding waste of energy, time, raw materials, finished materials and craftsmanship.
“I can't help but shake my head in disbelief when I think about the carbon footprint left by slashing a seven -year-old residence only to replace it with another new one. What does this grotesque approach to planning say about a state that a claims leadership role in curbing greenhouse gas? More to the point, what does the wrecking ball say about the sense of social responsibility of the owners?”

Septic Ban Suit Progresses

• Homeowner Demands a Jury Trial


A Malibu Road attorney that has filed a lawsuit against the local and state water boards and the California Environmental Protection Agency concerning the Civic Center septic ban, which includes residential areas such as Malibu Road, is getting closer to the courtroom.
The first status conference is set for Oct. 14. The court has been told that an administrative record will be ready by Sept. 12.
Attorney Joan Lavine, who owns a home on Malibu Road, and has legally tangled with the city over an unrelated matter with successful results, seeks to have the ban overturned and set aside and is also making a claim that the septic ban has resulted in an inverse condemnation, “due to the unconstitutional regulatory taking…of all viable economic value and use of her substantial property interests in her Malibu road property and seeks the award of reasonable monetary damages.”
A prohibition on all Civic Center area septic systems including residential areas was approved and adopted by the RWQCB on November 2009 and approved and ratified by the State Water Resources and Control Board on September 21, 2010.
Lavine asserts in her complaint that by doing so the agencies “illegally engaged in a regulatory taking and confiscation of her substantial real property and related interests.”
The lawsuit calls the prohibition “an invalid underground regulation and is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable overbroad, confiscatory, is an exercise of authority in excess of and without jurisdiction, is a usurpation of power, authority and jurisdiction where respondents have none, is without any factual support, and is invalid as a matter of law and therefore is null and void.”
Besides monetary damages, Lavine is seeking a writ of mandate and or prohibition restraining the water boards from enacting such “a quasi-legislative action.”
Lavine said she was not notified that her property impermissibly discharged water, pollution or contaminants, violated any health, safety, environmental or clean water laws or in any way was non-compliant with any law, rule or regulation over which the water boards have jurisdiction.
She indicated in the legal brief she has not been notified that her property in any way created or caused a nuisance. She has never been cited for any said potential hazards described, she wrote in the lawsuit.
She said the water boards' actions make her property unsaleable and unmarketable and constitutes a per se regulatory taking.
“No evidence was received into the record at the November hearing that pollution was/is generated at the Lavine Malibu Road property. No evidence supports a finding as applied to petitioner's Malibu Road property that discharges failed to meet water quality objectives,” the petition goes on to state.
In her extra-record evidence, Lavine cites the recent U.S. Geological Survey research by John Izbicki.
Lavine is demanding a trial by jury.

Flavored Milk Gets SMMUSD Reprieve

• Supplements, Sales Receipts and Simplicity Save Drinks


The motion to ban non-fat flavored milk from the menu of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District was voted upon, and denied, at the Aug. 24 school board meeting.
After a two-hour discussion and deliberation, the SMMUSD board, on a 5-2 vote, approved the continuation of flavored dairy drinks in the district.
Janece Maez, the district’s chief business officer, recited a statement on behalf of the board clarifying their decision. Primarily reinforcing the board’s concern with “serving children whose family may not be as able as others to provide a nutrient rich and often more costly diet.”
The board acknowledged that “in many cases, what some children eat at school is the bulk of their nutritionally sound food for that day,” and the removal of flavored dairy might eliminate the essential dairy products in those SMMUSD students’ diet.
“Although the availability of flavored milk does not guarantee all children will drink dairy, the board noted studies from several national health organizations (e.g., American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetic Association), which found that removal of flavored milk can result in a “dramatic decline in milk consumption.”
This decline is a possibility the SMMUSD Board of Education is not willing to take. Maez reinforced the opinion that “staff is opposed to the risk of lower milk consumption” within the district.
According to a press release from the SMMUSD board, “removing non-fat chocolate milk could result in children choosing to drink no milk” at all.
Allowing students to have a “choice between flavored and non-flavored milk products” seems to be the assuring notion that ‘all’ students have the equal opportunity to nutrient rich alternatives.
When given the opportunity to counter the board, community individuals said that the statistics the board used were “very widely quoted.” Concerned parents said that the crux of the problem is, “We have successfully trained our children’s palates to crave sugary milk.”
However, anti-flavored milk ban community representatives noted that flavored milk is rich in “calcium, vitamin D, and protein,” which has “more benefits than negatives.”
Harriet Fraser, campaign leader and SMMUSD parent, told the Malibu Surfside News “that despite the outcome, this is only the first step.” After 1000 signed petitions and community coalition, her goal is to “alert the school board to all the nutrition problems within the district…milk is just the beginning.”
According to a recent school board press release, although flavored milk will continue to be served, some changes will occur. The Board of Education assures a “comprehensive review of beverage and food offerings throughout the district to ensure they are serving the most nutritional foods possible.”
The board also plans to work with school principals and groups on campus who sell food items to make sure they are complying with the district wellness policy.
Orland Griego, Director of Food and Nutrition, confirmed a cashier system that would allow parents to determine whether their children can purchase flavored milk.
In alliance with the district’s efforts to continue to provide healthy options to its students, the “milk campaign” is only the beginning, as parents seek to “underscore the importance of eating healthily and exercising as means to combat childhood obesity.”

Aquarium Crew on Local Alert for Live Great White Catches

• Holding Pen Is Back in Malibu with Its Sights Set on a ‘Juvie’ Shark to Put on Display


The Monterey Bay Aquarium has just reopened what is now the Open Sea exhibit after two years of renovation, and the MBA great white shark field team and holding pen recently returned to local waters to find a juvenile white to put on exhibit.
If a suitable animal is acquired, it would be the sixth young great white shark to be transported to Monterey in the 3000-gallon mobile life-support unit dubbed the “finnebago” and put on public display.
Ken Peterson, the communications director for MBA, told the Malibu Surfside News, “We currently have a young male shark in the holding pen and we are evaluating whether it’s an animal we’ll tag and release, or whether it’s a candidate for our Open Sea exhibit.”
Before bringing a young great white shark to Monterey, the members of the aquarium field team monitor its behavior to see if it has adjusted to swimming in an enclosed space. The team offers it salmon, mackerel and other fish, and confirms that the animal is feeding consistently.
As The News went to press, Peterson said that the field team is still assessing the young male shark but he added the team expects to make a decision on its suitability for display “later in the week.”
The MBA team plans to remain off the Malibu coast—farther out than in the past—through September. Peterson said the MBA goal is to tag five young sharks this season.
The aquarium staff is working with the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach on the field tagging program, and plans to put pop-up satellite tags on the five juvies, as well as acoustic tracking tags.
Peterson said, “The acoustic tags transmit a unique signal that can be picked up by offshore monitoring buoys anytime the shark swims within range and is a way of knowing exactly where a particular shark is at a particular moment.”
The buoy network is still being created, Peterson added, and “is more theoretical than actual at the moment, but the batteries used for these tags have a several-year life, and we hope to work with colleagues to establish the monitoring buoys south into Baja California waters.”
The last shark on display was a five-foot, three-inch, female white that was caught the summer of 2009 and spent two weeks in the four-million-gallon ocean holding pen.
She was transported to what was then called the Outer Bay exhibit, but did not feed for seven days before starting to eat. She was displayed until Nov. 4.
The fourth shark was put on display during the Labor Day holiday in 2008. Also female, she was small and only ate once at the aquarium. She was released after 11 days because of concern for her well-being.
All sharks previously kept at the aquarium were tagged and tracked after their release. The 2008 shark remained in waters near the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara.
Data from her tag, and observations from a fisherman who later accidentally caught and released her, showed she was doing well. Her tag subsequently was dislodged and there has been no further information on her.
The fifth shark was similarly monitored but illegally caught and taken by a fisherman who was located because of the animal’s tracking tag.
Data from young white sharks tagged since the field project began in 2002 have been published in the scientific press, documenting the 26 sharks’ use of nearshore waters in California, especially those off Malibu, as “white shark nurseries.”
Great white sharks are endangered. They are in decline worldwide, in part because they are slow to reproduce and because of growing fishing pressure that is decimating all shark species. Whites are protected in California and U.S. coastal waters.
Malibu’s offshore environment is ideal for fish-eating juvenile whites. They will move to colder waters as they grow and require a diet of seals, sea lions and elephant seals.
In addition to generating record attendance numbers at the aquarium, displayed great whites can help to change public attitudes and lead to support of strong protection for these magnificent and unjustly maligned ocean predators.
Whites are regularly described as the most powerful emissaries for ocean conservation in the sea.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Airs Plan to Restore Sea Otter Range

• The Malibu Coast Could Eventually Be Home Again to the Marine Mammals That Were Once Common


Before it was threatened with extinction, the southern sea otter once lived in the kelp forests along the Malibu coast.
This month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has published a revised draft supplemental environmental impact statement for a plan that would allow the marine mammal to return to its historic range in Southern California, after decades of being sequestered in a limited portion of the Central Coast and Channel Islands.
The document is now available for public comment.
Hunted to the edge of extinction by the fur trade—in 1935 the population was estimated at just 50—the southern sea otter was listed as an endangered species in 1972. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the population currently numbers approximately 2000 and is still threatened. An oil spill or other disaster has the potential to wipe out the species in the wild, according to DSEIR.
According to the report, “historically, sea otters ranged along the North Pacific rim from the northern Japanese islands to mid-Baja California, Mexico.  Southern sea otters occupied the southern portion of this range to northern California or Oregon, or possibly as far north as Prince William Sound in Alaska.
“The California population prior to exploitation is thought to have numbered about 16,000 animals. During the 18th and 19th centuries, sea otters were hunted for their luxurious pelts, and by the early 1900s, the species was believed to be extinct in California.” 
All of the existing southern sea otters are descended from that colony of 50 individuals that survived along the Big Sur coast. 
The report states that, while the southern sea otter population has grown slowly since that time, it has exhibited high levels of mortality in recent years.
For decades, the California range of the southern sea otter has been restricted to a small portion of Central Coast, centered at Monterey Bay, despite once having a range that was much more extensive. Fishing interests have repeatedly pressured the federal government to relocate sea otters that migrate further south.
However, a federally funded program to relocated otters to a new colony at San Nicholas Island has not been a success and the revised plan proposes discontinuing the translocation plan in favor of allowing the animals to recolonize the south coast of the mainland without human interference.
“The purpose of this Revised Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) is to reevaluate the effects of the southern sea otter translocation plan, as described in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 1987 environmental impact statement on the translocation of southern sea otters,” the document states. “Using information obtained over the decades since the plan’s implementation, we evaluate the impacts of alternatives to the current translocation program, including termination of the program or revisions to it.
“The need for action stems from our inability to meet the goals of the southern sea otter translocation program. Contrary to the primary recovery objective of the program, the translocation of sea otters to San Nicolas Island has not resulted in an established population sufficient to repopulate other areas of the range should a catastrophic event affect the mainland population. Additionally, maintenance of a management zone has proven to be more difficult than anticipated and hinders or may prevent recovery of the southern sea otter.”
The report states that the sea otter population along the mainland coast of California is increasing, but much more slowly than other recovering sea otter populations, which have grown at rates of up to 17-20 percent annually. 
Southern sea otters along the mainland have never increased more than five-six percent per year, and recent growth rates have reportedly been highest at the southern end of the range. 
“Allowing natural range expansion is key to recovery, according to the recovery plan. The translocation program allowed the reintroduction of sea otters to San Nicolas Island but also required the removal of sea otters from a ‘no-otter’ management zone. The program is currently being reviewed through the National Environmental Policy Act process,” the report concludes.
Observers say that the new South Coast network of Marine Protected Areas, including the State Marine Reserve and State Marine Conservation Area at Point Dume, scheduled to go into effect later this year, could provide safe habitat for sea otters if the restriction is lifted.
Otters are occasionally observed in western Malibu, off Leo Carrillo and Nicholas beaches, although evidence is generally anecdotal.
The revised plan is expected to receive stiff opposition from fishing interests, who regard the otter as competition for shellfish and have reportedly resorted to killing otters in the past, despite their threatened species status.
The document states: “However, in light of the now-well-established capacities of sea otters to return rapidly to areas from which they have been removed, it is clear that our ability to influence sea otter movements by means of capture and removal is limited, and continuing efforts to remove sea otters non-lethally from areas where they choose to reside appears to be futile.
“To mitigate regulatory effects that may occur as a result of this alternative, if chosen, we are working with the Department of Defense to identify possible mutually agreeable solutions.
The document suggests that “If sea otters do naturally expand their range into Southern California, changes in the nearshore environment will take place over many decades, allowing for a gradual transition of fishery and ecotourism activities that would likely dampen any regional economic impacts that could occur.”
The 60-day comment period for the plan opens on Aug. 26. The document is available online at:
A final SEIS and Record of Decision is projected for 2012.

Indoor-Only Cats ‘Live Long and Prosper’

• Research Shows Outdoor Access Drastically Increases Mortality


Several recent incidents involving missing house cats and small dogs are a reminder for Malibu residents that many authorities say cats are safer and healthy indoors and that small dogs should never be left unattended.
Most Malibuites enjoy the opportunity to live in an area where there still is wildlife and wild habitat. Calls in other communities for the destruction of coyotes have appalled many Malibu residents. An easier and more humane solution is to keep cats indoors and supervise small dogs in the same way that small children should be supervised.
According to the Humane Society, “although many cats enjoy being outside where they can hunt prey and explore their surroundings, it's a myth that going outside is a requirement for feline happiness.”
Research indicates that indoor cats live on average 10 years longer than outdoor cats.
A 10-year National Center for Biotechnology study conducted in the 1990s determined that trauma was the leading cause of death in outdoor cats, followed by communicable diseases and poisoning.
Coyotes are often demonized as pet killers, and Malibu’s largest native canine will take advantage of any easy prey that it finds in its territory, but domestic dogs can also be responsible for the death of smaller domestic animals.
The great horned owl hunts skunks and can mistake a small cat for its traditional prey.
Raccoons, bobcats and mountain lions can also dispatch a cat or small dog. Outdoor cats are at risk from rattlesnake bites and, even in Malibu, can become the victims of human predators.
Outdoor cats also run the risk of being exposed to infectious diseases and parasites, including ticks, fleas and worms.
Rodenticide is a serious threat to outdoor cats as well as to native predators. Cats who eat poisoned rodents die a painful death from internal bleeding.
In addition to inadvertently becoming prey, cats can have a serious impact on native animal populations, killing birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The hunting instinct is an integral part of feline nature.
The Humane Society recommends that “playing regularly with your cat satisfies her stalking instinct, keeps her stimulated, and provides the exercise she needs to stay healthy and happy.”
Toys do not need to be fancy. Many cats enjoy corks, cardboard boxes, paper bags, small balls of aluminum foil or paper or plastic hair clips as much as anything from a pet store. Toys with strings should be used with supervision only. Elastic can be fatal to cats, and should be removed from commercial cat toys.
Indoor cats should also have access to a sunny window ledge or a screened porch that allows a good view of the outside world.
Scratch posts can help prevent the living room sofa from being shredded. A good post should be vertical, not horizontal, sturdy, wrapped in natural fiber or rope and tall enough that the cat can stand on his hind legs and fully extend his paws. Carpet scratch posts can encourage cats to use the house carpet.
“Buy a ready-made cat tree, or make your own,” the Humane Society recommends.
“A cat tree may stretch from floor-to-ceiling or be shorter. It provides great climbing opportunities and, in multi-cat households, creates more play and rest areas by taking advantage of vertical space. If you can, locate the cat tree next to a window so your cat can watch the action outdoors.”
A folding step ladder makes an inexpensive-and dual-purpose-cat tree. Inventive Malibu cat owners have used tree trunks or driftwood, secured to a stable plywood base and wrapped in rope.
Other advice includes providing an extra litter box for each cat in the family and placing them in locations where the cat has privacy but won’t feel trapped or boxed in.
Inexpensive natural fiber doormats or carpet remnants placed at the entrance to the litter box can help prevent litter from being tracked all over the house.
Cats are even more sensitive to litter box smells than humans are and are much more likely to use their box if it is cleaned frequently.
Because indoor cats have a limited range and can feel threatened by children, dogs, or visitors, they should be provided with a quiet refuge where they can retreat and will know that they will be left in peace.
Young cats adapt readily to an indoor-only life, but almost all cats can adjust, if their human partner has patience.
The happy ending to the effort could end up being an extra decade to enjoy the company of a beloved cat companion.

Caltrans Promises Fix for Restaurant

• Local Activist Wants the State Agency to Follow Through


Public Safety Activist Hans Laetz points to a letter that he received from the state Department of Transportation bolstering his position that signage and pavement markings at the driveways to Geoffrey’s is insufficient.
“As a result of my letter, Caltrans will install “do not enter/wrong way” signs facing the restaurant’s driveway,” he noted in a missive to news outlets.
The Caltrans letter dated August 23 was written in response to Laetz’s letter dated March 26, 2011. The Caltrans letter is described as a series of actions the state agency will undertake and represents Caltrans response to the Malibu resident’s letter.
The state agency did brush aside some of Laetz’s suggestions such as immediately installing type R6-1 one way signs on appropriate snap-away posts in the center divider of both of Geoffrey’s two driveways, at the intersection of state route-1 at Meadows Lane, at the commercial establishments at Latigo Beach and other appropriate locations across Malibu.
“We would not recommend installing any signs along the median on PCH in Malibu due to the existing narrow median shoulder width,” the Caltrans letter states.
However, upon investigation after looking at other options, the agency agreed to installing reflective markers which are currently used at freeway exit ramps and will install the wrong way, do not enter signs facing backward from the entrance to Geoffrey’s
Laetz said he was impressed by Caltrans responses. “This is good. I had hoped for a piddly one way sign in the median, but the Caltrans traffic engineers have an even bigger, brighter solution,” he added.
Laetz went public with the letter at the same time he sent copies to the mayor, other city officials and the public safety commission.
“I write today to request the city immediately contact the state to ask that these modifications be made concurrently with the erection of ‘no parking signs’ on eastbound PCH to the west of both Geoffrey’s driveways, and with the installation of diagonal stripes to allow entering traffic better visibility,” he added.
Laetz said he was disappointed Caltrans did not agree with the recommendation of removing all center divider paddles at Zuma Beach and replacing them either with a cement curb median or shorter paddles that do not restrict the sight lines of oncoming traffic.
“We investigated this and other locations from that perspective. The investigation included, but was not limited to analyzing the relationship between moving and turning vehicles and pedestrians. The existence of center divider paddles at some locations and concrete center divider islands at other locations was the result of such investigations,” the Caltrans letter went on to say.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Council Takes Action on Housing Element

• City Staff Receives Direction on Proceeding with Process


The Malibu City Council this week discussed the proposed housing element update at its meeting and gave direction to the staff after planners asked the council how it wanted to proceed.
Based on staff analysis and extensive public input, planners had gathered a list of options for the council’s consideration.
The council agreed to take the Trancas parcels out of any consideration for upzoning or analysis in the Environmental Impact Report, agreed to direct staff to proceed on an individual evaluation of several options for counting low-income housing including further study of guesthouses and other secondary residential units, but nixed further consideration of allowing existing commercial properties to have residential use above and development of mixed use commercial and residential use. Upon the recommendation of Councilmember Jefferson Wagner the council agreed to include the possible donation of two acres in the La Paz project.
At the outset of the meeting, Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinksi outlined to the council the policy issues involved, the level of public debate and the timeline.
The planning director noted the city is three years late in submitting an update, should send a draft of the update to the state housing department later this year and would offer public hearings on the Environmental Impact Report in the summer of 2012.
“By Oct. 2013, the document should be adopted and that is when we need the next update,” she said.
The planning manager said the most important issue is the number generated by the Southern California Association of Governments concerned the assignment of 188 units of low income housing.
“That should be our most intense focus. Malibu needs to demonstrate a capacity for 188 units. If you cannot show you can accommodate the number you have to have high density [up zoning],” she said.
The planning manager introduced the executive director of SCAG Hasan Ikhrata, who ended up butting heads with Councilmember Lou La Monte, who kept insisting to the SCAG head the city had obtained the current numbers for the current update and should be allowed to use them.
“You are asking a logical question after the fact. As SCAG we can't go back. I don't know that the numbers are erroneous information,” he said.
La Monte insisted, “Those numbers are erroneous.”
Ikhrata, “If they were erroneous, the city had every opportunity to fix that. But now it is after the fact. The city could try to sue. But you will lose. There was ample opportunities for the city. The time has past.”
City Attorney Christi Hogin interrupted and, in effect, speaking on behalf of SCAG explained the agency has to allocate to so many other entities [196 cities and counties] and that shifting one entity's numbers would require reallocating to all of the entities. “The battle over the numbers is over. The reason the numbers will probably be lower [next time] is when the real facts are analyzed,” she said.
Ikhrata agreed. “All the numbers will go down. Not only the city’s.”
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal said, “It is very frustrating. I understand we screwed up. Things were not challenged. But now do you feel the city is working with you?” she asked. To which Ikhrata replied, “Yes, study and look at all options.”
Earlier during her staff report, Parker-Bozylinksi explained the public sees the counting of second units as the preferred method, a strategy for providing adequate sites to accommodate regional housing needs assessment [or RHNA] requirements.
She explained staff believes that land use changes would be necessary in order to obtain certification to accommodate the city’s assigned share of new housing under the current RHNA. Planners acknowledge that some residents had recommended that the Environmental Impact Report process be put on hold until options other than rezoning are fully investigated and it is determined whether any rezoning is necessary.
“Staff agrees that all viable alternatives to rezoning should be fully considered in order to minimize impacts on the community. However, the purpose of the EIR is to provide an objective evaluation of feasible housing element options to support sound decision-making. Staff is also concerned that a delay in the EIR process could jeopardize the city’s ability to complete the housing element update within the state mandated timeframe. It is staff’s intent to run the timeline for completing the EIR concurrently with the housing element update,” the planning head added. The council agreed.
Two approaches were laid out for council consideration if the city proceeds with the EIR now or later. The first approach would identify a preferred “project” with other options evaluated at a lesser level of detail in the alternatives chapter. The second approach would evaluate several alternatives at an equal level of detail. The council opted for the second approach
“This approach will require a budget augmentation., A revised Notice of Preparation will be circulated for public review and RHNA credit for non-rezoning options will be identified to the greatest extent possible,” the planning manager explained.
Planners had also acknowledged that some residents had recommended that the city seek a revision to the RHNA allocation for the current planning period (2006-2014) prior to moving forward with the housing element. Residents had complained about an apparent discrepancy between the RHNA allocation of 14 units in the previous planning period (1998-2005) and the allocation of 441 units in the current period.
According to the planning staff, they contacted SCAG about the reason for the large differences between the RHNA allocation of the last two planning periods.
“As explained by SCAG, the discrepancy between the two RHNA cycles is apparently based on the small number of housing units built in Malibu during the 1990s compared to the early 2000s. SCAG’s forecast methodology relies heavily on historical growth trends to project future development. According to building records, during the period after city incorporation in 1991 to 1997, the number of housing units declined. This decline appears to explain why the 1998-2005 RHNA allocation was only 14 units. However, during the period 2000-2006, housing units increased by 258. This change in historical growth pattern appears to explain the large increase in the RHNA allocation for the current period.
The exchange between the SCAG head and La Monte was the best example yet of the rough sledding city officials would encounter if they insisted in proceeding in that direction.
Some residents had recommended that the city file a legal challenge to SCAG's current RHNA allocation or seek a change in state housing element law.
The staff, according to planners, has in recent months been focusing on ensuring that the RHNA for the next planning period, which is currently being prepared, should “fairly and accurately reflect the significant constraints to development in Malibu.”

Redistricting Concerns Generate Contention

• Maps Decried as Gerrymandering


While much has been written and commented upon on the statewide redistricting, the redistricting of the county, which is done by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, has remained quiet until recently when a fight has broken out between some board members.
Like the state and federal governments, counties must redraw their district boundaries every ten years to conform to the results of the U.S. Census.
However, there is a difference between the recently completed state and federal redistricting, which were performed by citizen’s commissions and the county’s redistricting, which is carried out by the board. The supervisors will hold a hearing on the proposed redistricting plans on Tuesday, Sept. 6, in downtown Los Angeles.
Three proposed maps were each submitted last week by Supervisor Don Knabe, Supervisor Gloria Molina and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. In the words of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky Molina’s or Ridley-Thomas' plans would “radically redraw the Board of Supervisors' district boundaries, leaving communities fragmented and an estimated 3.5 million people suddenly represented by a supervisor for whom they never cast a vote.”
Molina, on her website, said both new maps create two Latino-majority districts while simultaneously ensuring that all other minority groups’ voting powers remain protected.
Ridley-Thomas, in a press release, said, “I have maintained from the start of the redistricting process that our top priority as a Board must be to adhere to federal standards, including the Voting Rights Act requirements. These requirements were not created abstractly to promote the political dominance of our interest group at the expense of other groups, but to serve all voters fairly. That the maps submitted by Supervisor Molina and myself result in the creation of Latino-opportunity voting districts is purely a consequence of our commitment to abide by the civil rights laws that undergrid our representative democracy and that have made our county better.”
Molina added, “Compare them to the map recommended by the Boundary Review Committee. Either [my] or Ridley-Thomas' proposal would best fulfill not just the letter, but the spirit of the Voting Rights Act.”
However, Yaroslavsky alleged in his blog, the proposed mapping is “a bald-faced gerrymander that is completely unnecessary.”
“The primary objective of redistricting,” said Molina, on her website. “Is to ensure every district represents the same amount of people. But this goal cannot legally be accomplished by diluting the strength of minority voters. It’s a particularly important requirement since L.A. County has an unfortunate, extensive and documented history of voter discrimination-specifically against Latinos.”
Yaroslavsky, who is currently in his final term as supervisor, said he has no personal interest in the electoral composition, “even if, for my term’s duration I would no longer represent communities I’ve been honored to serve for nearly two decades.
“However, I am utterly convinced that these redistricting schemes would significantly injure our ability to fight together,” he said.
He cites, for example, the San Fernando Valley, would be carved into three different districts. Hollywood and mid-Wilshire, meanwhile could be included in a district with such distant cities as Lomita and Cerritos.
“Our new maps simply follow the numbers,” said Supervisor Molina. “By doing so, our new maps honor both the letter and the spirit of the Voting Rights Act. If approved either new map will ensure that no minority group’s voting power is unfairly enhanced or diluted at the expense of another. Our new maps simply follow the law and the legal precedent.”
Ridley-Thomas’ proposed map, submitted as the “African-American Coalition Map,” moves the eastern San Fernando Valley into the first district, connecting it with downtown Los Angeles and unincorporated East Los Angeles. It also designates the I-605 corridor portion of the San Gabriel Valley as the fourth district.
The map also includes a coastal district that runs from Malibu through Long Beach to Cerritos
Molina’s proposed map submitted as the “Voting Rights Compliance Map” is similar to the coalition map, leaving the second and fifth supervisory districts largely unchanged. It does propose dramatic changes elsewhere. The third district would stretch from the San Fernando Valley jus west of the I-405 through Eagle Rock and downtown Los Angeles as far sough as Lynwood and include communities to the west of the I-710.
“The county’s redistricting plan must adhere to the Federal voting rights act,” Yaroslvasky said. “Both of the proposed maps create two districts in which Latinos would comprise more than half the voting age citizens, instead of one such district now, but contrary to the arguments put forward by supporters of the proposed maps, their adoption is not required by this law. The Voting Rights Act requires an equal opportunity for minority groups, it does not require the creation of districts in which a single minority group comprises more than 50 percent of the voting age citizenry.”

CCC to Hear Lighting Extension Request

• Amendment Is Anticipated to Be on October Agenda


Reportedly bowing to pressure from both sides of the Malibu High School lighting debate, the City of Malibu has submitted an extension request to the California Coastal Commission for its amendment to the Implementation Plan portion of its certified Local Coastal Program to permit field lighting, so the item can be heard during a meeting in Southern California, closer to home.
The amendment, submitted in July, proposes to “add new definitions for categories of slopes and amend Site Plan Review requirements for structures constructed on the different categories of slopes; and modify Table B of the IP to allow lighting of main sports fields at public high schools in the Institutional zone pursuant to a conditional use permit.”
The lighting issue, promoted by the school district and several members of the Malibu City Council, has drawn extensive criticism from Malibu residents and environmental activists, who say that the negative impact on western Malibu’s dark skies and wildlife cannot be mitigated.
On July 15, 2011, the Coastal Commission's executive director determined that the city’s amendment submittal “was in proper order and legally adequate to comply with the submittal requirements of Coastal Act Section 30510(b). Pursuant to Coastal Act Section 30512 and California Code of Regulations Section 13522, an amendment to the certified IP portion of the LCP must be scheduled for a public hearing and the Commission must take action within 60 days of a complete submittal. The 60th day after filing the complete submittal is September 13, 2011.
“[The Coastal Act] states that the Commission may extend for good cause the 60-day time limit for a period not to exceed one year. Commission staff is requesting an extension to the 60-day time limit in order to allow adequate time to review and analyze the amendment. Therefore, staff recommends that the Commission extend the 60-day time limit to act on the City of Malibu LCP Amendment No. MAJ-1-11 for a period not to exceed one year.
Staff has recommended that the panel vote to extend the deadline for commission action for one year. The item is anticipated to be on the October agenda.

Council Gives Kanan Road Arrestor Bed Improvements Its OK

• City Could Spend Up to $240,000 on Safety Improvements for Area with History of Fatalities


Plans for nearly $240,000 worth of roadway improvements for Kanan Dume Road were given the OK by the Malibu City Council at its meeting this week.
The council approved an allocation of $40,000 for the costs to complete the final engineering drawings with the proviso the staff would come back to get approval for the estimated $200,000 for construction costs
After reviewing several options, the council endorsed the staff recommendations of nearly a half-dozen road safety “enhancements.”
However, some of the public did not endorse the proposal. Julie Eamer of ASPCH said the problem really starts in the county and ASPCH is recommending Malibu spend the money outside of the city and place a sign at the beginning of Kanan in Agoura Hills with a programmable message sign banning trucks. “Then construct a turnaround there,” she said.
The sign could have multiple uses, according to the ASPCH spokesperson, announcing fires or PCH closures.
Safety activist Hans Laetz praised the city for attempting to do something about Kanan, but said the real problem is defining what local deliveries mean for truck drivers
Steve Littlejohn, who said he has an office above the intersection and has witnessed runaway truck fatalities praised the council for their actions. “We are playing Russian roulette every time we are going through the intersection,” he said.
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal said it was important to “take care of things in our own city,” and said that she endorses making arrestor bed improvements. Other council members agreed.
Those improvements include: Widening the existing arrestor bed by about six feet. Installing reflectors, lighting, flashers, striping and signage at the arrestor bed.
Public Works Director Bob Brager explained to the council the thinking on each recommendation. “This enhancement will allow the width of the existing arrestor bed to be upgraded to current design standards and provide additional room for entering vehicles,” he said. “This enhancement will allow improved visibility of the arrestor bed and encourage drivers to utilize the arrestor bed when needed,” Brager explained.
Provide consistent signage along the roadway. “This will potentially aid drivers by clarifying road conditions,” he noted.
Reconfigure the lanes at the intersection of Kanan Dume Road and Pacific Coast Highway. Restripe Kanan Dume Road leading up to the arrestor bed.“This could allow drivers additional time to recognize the location of the arrestor bed,” the public works head stated.
The design plans will only include areas within city limits.
Brager was quick to point out that none of these changes can “guarantee” that accidents will not occur or that runaway trucks will utilize the arrestor bed.
“However, the enhancements should improve overall traffic safety and reduce the possibility of a serious injury accident,” the staff report concludes.
The staff has indicated it will utilize the design services of Willdan Consultants to prepare the plans which are expected to cost $40,000.
Upon completion of the plans, the staff will return to the council to seek approval of sending the project to bid and request the council allocate further funding of the project.
The estimated cost at this time for the construction improvements is about $240,000, according to the staff report, which indicates that planners are already seeking grant funding for the project, but have not yet been successful after two requests.
The steeply graded winding road, which traverses the western Santa Monica Mountains connecting Malibu to the Conejo Valley, has been plagued with fatal accidents that involved runaway trucks. The county constructed an arrestor bed for southbound Kanan Dume Road immediately north of Pacific Coast Highway. The final construction was completed in 1991, according to the city.
Trucks over 8000 pounds are prohibited on the roadway except when they are in compliance with local delivery laws. In no case should a truck in excess of the weight limit utilize the road to access PCH from the 101 Freeway. However, trucks are often seen using the roadway, either inadvertently or intentionally.
Traffic accidents have occurred over the years due to truck brake failure as they come southbound on the road.
“Even though the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department and the State Highway Patrol have played an ever increasing presence along the roadway, trucks are still illegally using the roadway. Many truck drivers have failed to use the arrestor bed.

Councilmembers Question Art Committee’s Festival Plan

• Extensive Concerns Over Funding and Community Support Dampen ‘Art Splash 2011’ Pitch


The Malibu City Council, at its meeting this week, pulled in the reins on the so-called Art Splash 2011, but did endorse having a public meeting with the stakeholders to find out if this is something the public wants or would endorse.
The working title “Art Splash 2011” was described, at a previous council session, as a three-week arts fair planned for December, by the city’s Cultural Arts Task Force Chair Daniel Stern, who was not present at this week’s council meeting.
Task force member John Mazza said he was recommending “they take away the punch bowl.”
“What you asked us for was how the city could support the arts,” said Mazza. “The city first needs to know its assets. This is an arts drive like an arts walk, which are usually done by charities. The task force has not had a chance to consider this.”
Stern had estimated that the stakeholders summit could cost about $2500 and the arts fair could have a price tag of approximately $49,000.
The event, as envisioned by Stern, is an arts festival that showcases all of the local artists and art venues in Malibu to be held through the month of December.
City council members were told at the last meeting about the idea for the event, which the city’s staff report pointed out, is not actually a charge of the task force.
Consequently, the chair of the panel Daniel Stern came to council chambers two weeks ago “looking for a stamp of approval” from members.
Council members, who seemed enthusiastic, directed the staff to place the item on this week's agenda to discuss, what at the time appeared to be, the task force’s proposal.
Another task force member Graham Clifford said the idea was to create an event rather than a cultural arts report “that nobody would ever read.”
“Danny and I put this idea forward. A physical event produces more,” he said.
Clifford said the original idea was to spend about $5000 on the stakeholders summit, so-called because the event itself would be jazzed up with art works and music.
Stern had previously said the arts festival is an opportunity to showcase the cultural scene of Malibu and showcase Malibu's art.
Council members talked about what they understood about the proposals. “There was a lot of confusion. I talked to Danny. The main goal should be the stakeholders meeting,” said Councilmember Laura Rosenthal.
“It is a pitch for a pitch,” said Councilmember Jefferson Wagner. “That is not that bad of a gamble for $2000.”
“There was some miscommunication. Danny wrote a letter explaining the plans and entire Splash event asking for $2000. Maybe they are asking for $2000 or $6000,” said Councilmember Lou La Monte.
Rosenthal said it takes planning to have a good event. “A few of us will read the report. Let’s find out from the stakeholders what they want,” she added.
At first, Clifford said the stakeholders summit was separate from the public meetings.
However, council members were quick to insist the summit meeting should be for the public.
“I thought the public was also coming, and the public is really wanted,” said La Monte.
At that point, City Manager Jim Thorsen interjected saying that the staff was confused about the $2000. “Where will the money be utilized?” he asked.
La Monte answered the $2000 was for the stakeholder summit. “That is what the money is for. The $40,000 would be for setting up Splash.,” he added.
Clifford said that he and Stern thought of the summit as a mini-event. “Danny and I thought this would be good. Worth $2000 for a little pizzazz,” he added.
Rosenthal said, “I agree to have it that way. I would support that.”
“I will follow your lead,” said Mayor John Sibert.
The motion was made by La Monte to advance the $2000 for the stakeholder meeting with the public to get input for the Splash event. Other members agreed and the motion passed on a 3-1 vote with Wagner abstaining. Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich was absent.
At the previous council meeting, Stern explained the why of the arts festival. “There are so many artists. Everyone wants their venue showcased. The cheapest solution is a three-week arts festival,” he said.
The task force charter is to assist city staff to determine the potential fiscal impact and financing options of producing a culture arts report, assisting staff with providing recommendations of a consultant that was hired and assisting the municipal staff and consultant to help determine a time frame for completion of the arts report.
The task force’s consultant, Creative Hub, was hired to help the task force with various information to include into the final arts report, according to the staff report.
Stern said task force members realize there is already a Malibu Arts Festival, but that venue is not really about local arts and artists.
“Our goal is to have a cultural arts scene,” added Stern, “We will need money for mapping. We will need seed money,” he added.
The staff report, which supports the event, stated “This event would bring Malibu's creative community together to showcase talent as well as introduce the possibilities for a full range of new cultural experiences. It is the intent of the task force that Art Splash turn into a seasonal or semi-annual event.
“Although this proposed event was not in the direct recommendations of the council, it is felt by the task force that this event will provide valuable information to be included in the report,” wrote Senior Planner Stephanie Danner.
“Staff believes the stakeholder summit can and should be conducted on a Saturday where the highest potential of participation might be achieved.
“However, staff feels the summit does not need additional funding as the cost to hold the meeting, provide handouts and minimal refreshments can be achieved within existing budgets and city resources.
“Staff believes council should consider providing 'seed' money for this effort and have the task force look at alternative means for raising the necessary funds as outlined in their proposed budget,” Danner added.

Pacific Voyagers Bring Opportunity to Share New and Ancient Traditions

• Ocean Conservation and the Interconnectedness of All Peoples Are the Focus of Malibu Visit


Six vaka moanas—traditional South Pacific outriggers—sailed through the fog into Paradise Cove on the afternoon of Aug. 19.
The six boats, crewed by a diverse group of Pacific Islanders as part of Pacific Voyagers project, are on their way around the Pacific, starting in New Zealand, ending in the Solomon Islands, with stops along the way at Hawaii, San Francisco, Monterey, Malibu, San Diego, Baja California and the Galapagos Islands. Their mission is to raise ocean environment awareness and reconnect with Pacific Island maritime cultural heritage.
The voyagers were welcomed to Malibu by two Chumash tomol canoes—the Elye’wun and the Isha Kowoch. The crews were invited to come ashore by Chumash representative Maiti Waiya, who organized the Malibu visit.
The mariners’ arrival was celebrated with a prolonged celebration that incorporated Chumash traditions, songs and rituals and brought together Chumash Elders and representatives from throughout Southern California.
The audience for the event included members of the Malibu City Council, a representative for Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and many Malibu residents and beach visitors.
Those willing to swim out to the flotilla of canoes anchored offshore were welcomed on board and offered tours of the twin-hulled vessels.
The tomol captains presented the vaka moana captains with ceremonial gifts of blankets, tomol paddles and clapper sticks—percussion instruments that replicate the sound of dolphins, according to Chumash representative Luhui Isha.
All of the voyagers received white sage and abalone shells. Each boat also received provisions donated by local grocery stores and harvested from Malibu gardens.
Tomol Captain Marcus Lopez told the audience a little about the Chumash maritime tradition, and how the Chumash are working to revive the redwood plank and natural asphalt building techniques used to build tomols.
“We are making tomols a living culture,” Lopez said. “14 years ago we had only one tomol, now we have six. You honor us [with your visit]. We are one people.”
Frank Kawe, from New Zealand—or Aotearoa, the skipper of the Te Matau a Maui spoke for the visitors. “These canoes carry us, in this day and age, to our destination, but they also carry us into the past,” Kawe said. “They carry us into the future, to bring the message wherever we go. We are going in the right direction, cherishing the things we have been given.”
Kawe’s crew presented Waiya with a stone from their homeland. “It is a piece of the land, a Maori tradition,” Kawe said. “It carries the essence of the land, pays respect to people who brought history back to us. The canoe proved that this voyaging was possible—a real thing,” he said.
The traditional Polynesian art of navigating, using the stars and currents, has been brought back from the brink of extinction in the last 40 years, the voyagers’ website states.
The crews of the vakas still depend on astronomy to guide them. The canoes are equipped with sails, and paddles. The only electricity on board is generated by solar panels.
The Pacific Voyagers project was sponsored by German philanthropist Dieter Paulmann, who is the founder of Okeanos Foundation of the Sea.
Paulmann was in Malibu for the ceremony. “We are shaping it slowly,” he said. “We are coming back to the wisdom of our ancestors. This journey was not made to see new countries, it is more to see with new eyes. It is unbelievable that these people did it. It gives us hope that we will make it. Everybody has to start looking to the future.”
After the ceremony, the crews traveled up the coast to the Wishtoyo Chumash demonstration village, where the festivities concluded with a feast and the visitors reciprocated with a kava ceremony.
In the morning, the ships slipped out of the bay, back into the fog.
“It was like families reuniting,” Waiya told the Malibu Surfside News after the event.

Publisher’s Notebook

• Children of the Sea Visit Malibu •


The six craft slowly glided through the haze, moving on the ocean’s surface much as their predecessors did dozens of centuries before them. The vaka moanas’ Polynesian crews—men and women of all ages—eased the boats through Malibu waters on Friday in the same way they might have at islands and continents in a period of prehistory about which we have much to learn.
Men and women crewed these ships because voyages in centuries past often resulted in the formation of new settlements. Each boat was a village in the making. The navigation talents of a people renown for their seafaring skills spearheaded Polynesian population dispersal.
Some apply the term Lapita to an ancient Pacific Ocean archaeological culture believed to be the common ancestor of several cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and parts of Melanesia. The actual name of this so-called Lapita archaeological culture is unknown. There are no remnants of its boats or rigging.
There are differing schools of thought on these seafarers of obvious skill. Indeed, archeological disputes sometimes become so embroiled in passion that they can make Malibu politics look positively humdrum.
Sticking to less controversial generalities, more than 3000 years ago, then 2000 and 1200 or so years ago, the vacas were constantly on the move. Why crews sailed when they did, and why they then did not set sail for hundreds of years is not known. The sailors had no instruments in those early travels, not even a compass, yet there were those who were able to safely guide the twin-hulled craft as far away as South America.
At the apex of the skilled sailors were the navigators or, as some have dubbed them, the wayfinders—those who find the way. There was no written language. Every step of a trip had to be committed to memory. The men and women who were navigators rarely slept during a voyage, sitting at the stern of the boat in one position for long periods of time, even occasionally going into a trance-like state while they still appeared to be in total command of everything around them.
The navigators or wayfinders were undoubtedly masters at tacking the wind. They counted on the trade winds to carry them home if lost. They monitored birds—knowing which ones stayed close to shore—and the habits of fish and turtles. Navigators knew all the stars and their positions, the sun, the moon and their movement. Currents, waves and water color had lessons. So did the clouds and their shapes and colors, as well as the sky colors. No detail was too small to not be included in how to set direction and speed. The same El Niños that can create horrible Malibu winters may have contributed to their sailing success.
The Polynesians who visited last week are descendants of people who prized their sailors because they understood humans’ visceral relationship to the planet’s watery expanse. In this era of handhelds and global positioning systems, it is easy to overlook how much people understood without any of today’s technology and to forget that we all are children of the sea. The Polynesian voyagers remind us to never let this happen.

Settlement in Mitrice Richardson Lawsuit Awaits Parents’ Signatures

• Board of Supervisors Announces Its Approval on Public Agenda This Week


The unmarried parents of Mitrice Richardson are expected to sign the paperwork this week awarding each of them $450,000 to terminate their claims of negligence and wrongful death against Los Angeles County.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a settlement total of $900,000 in a closed-door meeting on Aug. 16, subject to all parties signing the agreement. Sources in the county indicated that the contract counsel representing its case had made offers as low as $100,000.
Sources further said that the matter would not have been put before the board if there was not an expectation of its acceptance by the parents who had filed separate lawsuits alleging negligence by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department that were then consolidated.
The matter was agendized on Tuesday’s board meeting as item CS (4), which noted that the board unanimously (4-0) “approved the settlement in Latice Sutton v. County of Los Angeles; Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC 440685 and Michael Richardson v. County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC 442405—A wrongful death case alleging that Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department conduct contributed to the death of plaintiffs’ decedent.”
Richardson disappeared on Sept. 17, 2009, after she was released from the custody of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station shortly after midnight on foot, without her purse or cell phone.
She had been booked the previous evening for alleged inability to pay an $89 dinner tab at Geoffrey’s restaurant, where patrons and staff said she was behaving bizarrely.
Family members kept up a media drumbeat that the 24-year-old honors college graduate did not receive medical attention for what might have been the onset of a bipolar condition.
Richardson’s naked and partially mummified skeletal remains were found 11 months later in a remote area of Malibu Canyon about seven miles from the Lost Hills Station.
Richardson’s remains, interred in Inglewood Park Cemetery, were exhumed last month by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office so they and another nine bones confirmed to be hers could be restudied.
Her parents, Latice Sutton and Michael Richardson, also have maintained that the LASD’s initial handling of their daughter’s remains prevented determination of the cause of her death, a claim that is also asserted by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.
The parents’ consolidated litigation had been pared down considerably by Judge William Fahey and was set for trial next month.
Many supporters following the case had expressed a preference that the matter go to trial so that discovery and depositions could be made public. Unconfirmed rumors about retractions and inconsistent testimony have been rife during the discovery process.
With settlement often comes agreements that curtail the public statements and actions of the settling plaintiffs. In addition, there has been no official word on the effect settlement will have on any ongoing investigation.
Until everyone has signed on their respective dotted lines, LASD spokesperson Steve Whitmore said, “I do not have confirmation on any final settlement so I wouldn’t have a comment at this time.”
Neither parent’s website has made reference to a legal settlement. However, Michael Richardson made an enigmatic comment on a social media page three weeks ago that he “is cashing in now.” Sutton has not yet responded to settlement inquiries publicly.

Children of Grandmother Ocean Renew Their Bonds

• Visitors Have Special Meaning to Indigenous Peoples Who Look to the Sea for Their Roots

BY Georgiana Valoyce Sanchez
Chumash Women’s Elders Council of Wishtoyo

In the distance, just below the horizon, six vaka moanas, ocean-going outrigger canoes, heralded their approach to Paradise Cove in Malibu. On shore, the Elders and Spiritual Leaders of the Chumash Peoples waited with open hearts and gratitude for the incredible journey made by the Pacific Voyagers. The shared vision of the Indigenous Peoples, Tahitian, Hawaiian, Samoan, Fijian, Cook Islanders, and others—and those of us from the coastlands of California—was so apparent and powerful. As Indigenous Peoples of the ocean, we know we cannot separate ourselves from Grandmother Ocean. We are reminded of this truth daily as saltwater runs through our veins, bringing balance and strength to our bodies and minds. We are deeply connected to the ocean; its life-force shapes our cultural identities and our reality.
The main message that was told by the people of the vakas and the Indigenous coastal peoples is that our ocean-planet, earth, is in deep trouble and the health of our oceans is absolutely necessary for the future well-being of our earth. We can only survive if we come together as cultures and as “crew-mates” to preserve the health of our ocean-planet. What was so apparent during the ceremonies on the beach at Paradise Cove was the weaving of our collective voices to create a vision for positive global, societal and bio-cultural health and harmony. The Polynesian Hakas (dances and chants) and the songs and stories shared by the Chumash Peoples at Paradise Cove are a beautiful example of how powerful our indigenous ways are of giving voice to ancient truths.
Among Indigenous Peoples of our world, story and song (often embodied in dance) were some of the most important of the oral traditions for teaching and passing on the sacred and ancient knowledge and practices of our unique cultures. Oral tradition, carrying ancestral voices across a long trajectory of history, is one Indigenous People have had to maintain stability over the years, even in times of cataclysmic change. We are now in a time of cataclysmic change and need to pay attention to what Indigenous Peoples are saying about the health of our oceans and our planet. We have ancient stories and songs about ancient trade routes that connected us across the vast Pacific Ocean.
Today, linguistic, sociological, anthropological and archeological sciences affirm what our stories and songs have never let us forget—we are relatives, children of Grandmother Ocean—and we must take responsibility for our place on Mother Earth, for the health of Grandmother Ocean, and for the well-being of all Peoples, everywhere.