Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

City Council Stalls on Proposed View Restoration Ordinance

• Potential Measure’s Basic Premise and Elements Are Sent Back to Staff for a Major Overhaul


The Malibu City Council this week got bogged down in the details of what elements should be in a proposed view restoration ordinance and turned the matter back to the staff.
There were a number of items that the council found consensus on, but as Mayor John Sibert said, “We haven’t got to the difficult ones, yet.”
A majority of council members agreed that there should not be any free mediation as recommended by the planning commission and staff.
A majority also agreed that the height limit should be related to the residence rather then the trees themselves.
There was also a consensus that the claim or counter claim should be subject to the appeal of the planning commission and also agreed that the planning panel should be the preservation committee rather than a separate body.
There were almost two dozen speakers, who expressed conflicting views on the agenda item with council members indicating they distilled various opinions from all of the speakers.
During council comment, Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich talked about how she thought of the voters’ advisory measure as a unfunded mandate. “It is a mistake, just like the state’s unfunded mandates,” she said. “We could do a better job at the costs of millions of dollars just to give it to the 17 people who show up. We have many other priorities. If we are going to pass this, I don’t want it to cost the city.”
Commenting further about the voter, Conley Ulich said those who campaigned for city council talked about supporting the measure, but did not win the election. She noted that Councilmember Lou La Monte, who was a minority member on the defunct View Restoration Task Force, was the one elected to office.
Conley Ulich said she wanted to know if there was a consensus about the city not subsidizing mediation.
However, Councilmember Jefferson Wagner said the city should not remove itself from the process and should support the measure financially. “The city has to participate,” he added.
La Monte countered. “We should not be paying for free mediation,” he said. “This is not revenue neutral.”
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal said there were more than 17 folks who were interested or impacted by the issue. “It affects me. It affects the view of my property. The city should be involved, but stay revenue neutral. Why are they mutually exclusive?” she asked.
Mayor John Sibert, commenting upon the growing conflict between council members, said, “We do have a diversity of opinion. One of the issues I have with it, the free mediation. It doesn’t gain you much. We are putting out a carrot but where is the stick? It is privacy versus view. I’m inclined to say we don’t pay for mediation.”
Rosenthal wanted to know why there had not been a tree ordinance included in the proposed new law. “Why did it not come from the task force?” she asked.
La Monte said that allowable tree height was rejected by a majority of the task force. “It was a key part not even included. Allowable tree heights would eliminate the problem,” he added.
City Attorney Christi Hogin said there is a landscaping plan required of new homebuilders. The vegetation must be limited to six feet, according to the code.
Council members also talked about native trees and how they are exempted and cannot be cut down.
Planning Director Joyce Parker Bozylinski said the challenge is in enforcing such a limit and how a tree first planted would years later impact or block views. “It is difficult to know,” she said.
The council, upon La Monte’s urging, began to talk about whether there should be a separate committee or the matter could be handled by the planning commission. There was quick agreement that the planning panel was best suited to handle the chore.
The council talked about financial hardship exemptions, the value of trees, and the measure of privacy, however, when members began to discuss if the proposed ordinance should be retroactive, there was dissension.
La Monte said it should be enacted like any other law, becoming effective on the day it is enacted. “If you start the ordinance today, there will be no legal fees. It should not be retroactive. The day this becomes law, you will need more phones in City Hall,” he said.
“I completely disagree,” said Rosenthal.
“It was supposed to go back,” said Wagner. “We are trying to cherry pick from three and half years of work in three or four hours. I find it disappointing we are debating this,” he said.
Whereupon, the mayor interjected, “I don’t think we are going to pass an ordinance tonight. We can have the debate tonight. It will come back to us but the public comment is closed.
However, Hogin said, “We will want to open it up for public comment.”
“That is too bad we have to do that. When do we want this to come back?” the mayor asked. Hogin asked if it should go back to committee. Everyone said “No.”
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 planning panel in June was able to put together a proposed citywide view restoration ordinance using various parts from other cities, staff and commission recommendations.
A majority of the planning commission turned down a proposed ordinance that would have been more closely modeled after a Rancho Palos Verdes version. Hogin called that measure a court-tested law.
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 in 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 the proposed ordinance, which was crafted by the municipal task force charged by the city council to vet the issue.
Speakers, who were on the task force, suggested that the task force’s recommended ordinance would better serve the city. The same was true Monday night, when many of the former task force members showed up to urge the council to adopt their work product.
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.
Zimmer was also at Monday night’s meeting and told council members there were many provisions in the staff-recommended version she found objectionable.
Former task force chair Sam Hall Kaplan, and former task force members Barry Tyreman, Harold Greene, Leon Cooper, Marilynn Santman, and Lucille Keller all joined forces this week to urge the council to adopt their proposed ordinance.
Speaking about the ordinance that was proposed by the staff, Hall Kaplan 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.”
Greene said there are inconsistencies in the language of the proposed ordinance stating in one section the claim would run with the land and in another place that it was not a covenant and would not run with the land.
Tyreman said the staff-recommended ordinance does not follow the court tested models and would invite litigation.

Malibu City Council Supports LASD Release Policy Changes

• Mitrice Richardson Tragedy Provided Impetus for Concern about Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Protocol


Despite a three-plus-hour wait for the item to go before the Malibu City Council Monday evening, supporters of municipal Public Safety Commission recommendations for changes in Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detainee release policies got what they wanted—a strong unanimous endorsement of change.
A majority of the municipal Public Safety Commission asked the city council, which has no immediate authority over the LASD that provides contract law enforcement services to the city, to “request that the sheriff’s department consider a change in policy to have local stations allow detainees to be released only between sunrise to sunset unless proper transportation has been secured.”
PSC members also recommended that “all arrestees be permitted to retain possession” of their wallet, cell phone or other personal possessions that would help to assure their personal safety after release. Currently, determination on booking these items as bulk property or individual articles is subject to the discretion of the arresting deputy, and there have been numerous examples of detainees, especially females, being required to leave belongings that are not already on their person in an impounded vehicle.
The council gave both proposals a green light, emphasizing their gender neutral status and expressing special concern about the relative isolation of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, while acknowledging that any changes in release policies would have be applicable to all stations in the county.
The five council members approved action to send a letter to Sheriff Lee Baca to urge consideration of the proposed changes and also to indicate that one or more of them want to arrange a meeting with Baca to address these issues in person.
Mayor John Sibert emphasized the advisory nature of the council action, stating, “We do not have the authority to tell them how to do their business.” The LASD provides contract law enforcement basis for the city and, although the city has no direct power over the agency, it is a client with an annual tab of $6.5 million. Many also think the community’s high media profile might mean that its opinions warrant agency attention.
Although the council looked at the issue from a broader perspective—something that many of the proponents reiterated, one of the driving forces for the proposal was the community’s widespread concern for the fate of Mitrice Richardson, a 24-year-old Los Angeles resident who was booked at Lost Hills on two field-citable misdemeanors two years ago, and released at minutes past midnight without her wallet, money or cell phone. She was found dead in remote Malibu Canyon backcountry located seven miles from the station eleven months later.
Psychologist Ronda Hampton, Richardson’s college mentor and friend, stressed the global nature of the issue of safe release and said common sense should prevail when applying the Lost Hill manual’s directives on release policies and that would not allow the release of individuals “without the means to care for themselves.”
Linda Vallejo of Monte Nido, who has been a longtime supporter of the effort to learn what happened to Richardson, told council members that “the Malibu City Council should be the squeaky wheel, which gets [the LASD] to change its release policy.”
Lisa Santamaria, who has been an important part of the friends-and-family effort on Richardson’s behalf since she first went missing in 2009, relayed the specifics of several other cases of the release of individuals who were incoherent or did not have access to belongings in impounded vehicles.
She also noted that the station still does not have a separate payphone located in the lobby where people can make private phone calls that are not monitored by desk personnel at Lost Hills.
Council members expressed optimism that Lost Hills Station Commander Captain Joe Stephen acknowledged their concerns. Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich said, “[I am] sure Capt. Stephen will work with us.”
Lou La Monte spoke to Stephen directly, “We have to give you a strong recommendation. We know you want to get the right thing done.”
Stephen commented on concern about telephone access, “There is no phone issue at the Malibu station.” He said there are two phones on the LHSS front desk; but he did not indicate if anyone can just walk up and use them, whether long distance as well as local calls can be made—a concern with some phones used in holding cells, and he did not state whether calls on those phones are recorded.
Stephen also reiterated statements he made at the August Public Safety Commission meeting, saying the station has been responsive to Office of Independent Review 2010 recommendations for Lost Hills policy changes. “We allow arrestees now to keep cell phones,” he said, and noted the station now records all incoming calls inquiring about or for inmates, and “[when people are released now, they are] shown a list of these calls and have to sign off on them.”
The Lost Hills commander indicated that there is no budget for camera monitoring of exterior perimeters of the station, as was also recommended by OIR, but said more will be done in the future when funding permits.
Stephen made an interesting departure from what LASD has been stating regarding who determines whether a detainee is perceived to be unable to assure their own safety or might be a danger to others, making them subject to a “5150,” or involuntary hold, and held for medical evaluation.
The captain said, “At Lost Hills, the jailer makes that determination,” shifting the spotlight back on the role played by Sheron Cummings, the jailer, or custody assistant, who booked Richardson.
LASD spokesperson Steve Whitmore, speaking at a rally in October 2009 outside Lost Hills Station, said, “African-American jailer [Cummings] said she engaged [Richardson who was African-American] in ‘lucid’ great length.” Whitmore indicated that the jailer said they “talked about music.”
However, according to family members who viewed a booking cage video of Richardson, she looked dazed, distraught, and appeared unable to operate a telephone.
Cummings has declined to be interviewed by the Malibu Surfside News, or allow a personnel file photo or other photograph of her to be made public by the sheriff’s department.
The only quote by Cummings used in a lone off-camera broadcast interview was similar to the paraphrasing offered by Whitmore at the Lost Hills rally. Cummings said, “When I found out [Richardson] didn’t have a ride, I asked her why don’t you stay [in a locked cell]. It’s kind of dark and a bit cool, you don’t have a jacket. I knew she lived out in L.A. and didn’t know the area. But she said she didn’t want to spend the night in jail, and she was hooking up with some friends.”
Unconfirmed reports are circulating that Cummings may not have stood by that quote when she was deposed by the attorneys representing Richardson’s parents in litigation against Los Angeles County.
When the settlements proposed in those lawsuits are finalized, it is believed there may be media access to all of the depositions taken during the discovery process.

MRCA to Manage Access

• Five Beach Easements Are Transferred


The transfer of five beach accessways to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority is almost completed with a grant of $20,000 from the state’s Coastal Conservancy.
In August 2011, the MRCA board voted to accept title to the five vertical easements in transfer from Access for All and to manage them for public use, according to state officials.
“The immediate need is for MRCA to manage an existing beach access stairway located at 26500 Pacific Coast Highway in the neighborhood known as 'Latino Shores,” a Coastal Conservancy staff report states.
AFA had notified the Conservancy in July 2011 that it no longer had an interest in holding five of the six vertical access easements with the exception of the Ackerberg easement.
The California Coastal Commission, Coastal Conservancy and AFA agreed that those five easements would be voluntarily transferred to another public entity or nonprofit organization by September 1, 2011.
The Latigo stairs and an accessway on the Geffen property are the only ones open and needing management, according to state officials.
Management of the Geffen accessway has been funded with monies provided through settlement of the litigation pertaining to the opening of that accessway. The settlement funds will be available to MRCA.
State officials say they have determined that most of the funding provided under the proposed allocation of $20,000 will be used for management of the stairway at Latigo Shores.
The unopened accessways or future projects include 26664-26668 Seagull Drive, 19016, 22126 , 26520, 26524 and 26330 Pacific Coast Highway.
Since 2000, AFA, a nonprofit based in Malibu, has accepted 47 access easements that were derived from Offers to Dedicate required by the Coastal Commission as part of its coastal development permitting authority, according to state officials.
AFA was successful in opening the easement of the Geffen property. State officials acknowledge the relationship between the AFA and the state agency soured in 2009 over litigation involving the Ackerberg easement.
“The [Coastal] Conservancy and the MRCA have recently been working together to construct a beach stairway on Malibu Road, to design another accessway on Conservancy-owned property on La Costa and to manage Lechuza Beach.
“This grant will expand MRCA’s role in managing beach accessways in Malibu,” the Conservancy report concludes.

CCC to Hear Modified MHS Lighting Plan

• Report Indicates Project Still Has Negative Impact


The California Coastal Commission staff report for the City of Malibu’s Local Coastal Program Amendment to permit field lighting at Malibu High School, which will be heard at the Oct. 5 CCC meeting in Huntington Beach includes modifications to reduce environmental impact but also states that any athletic field lighting at the school will create light pollution and has the potential to harm wildlife, despite mitigation measures that will lessen but not eliminate the impact.
California Coastal Commission staff is recommending the commission deny the City of Malibu's Local Coastal Program Amendment to permit athletic field lighting at Malibu High School and approve a modified amendment that requires an extensive ornithological survey and monitoring program if the lights are used during fall or spring bird migration periods, and a prohibition on the light use more then three times a week, or on consecutive nights and during certain periods of bird activity.
The staff report finds that “Allowing any field light use during fall or spring bird migration periods has the potential to result in significant impacts to night migrating birds.”
The staff report states that the City of Malibu's proposed Local Implementation Plan Amendment “does not conform with, and is inadequate to carry out, the provisions of the certified Land Use Plan. Certification of the Implementation Plan Amendment would not meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act as there are feasible alternatives and mitigation measures that would substantially lessen the significant adverse impacts on the environment that will result from certification of the Implementation Program Amendment as submitted.”
The report acknowledges that “the proposed amendment has the potential to impact migratory birds and nesting and roosting raptors and owls,” and that the school is “situated within the Pacific Flyway, and potentially within the pathway of northward spring and southward fall migrations, which occur during the months of late March through May and September.” The document states that “once drawn into an artificial light source a number of negative outcomes can occur.”
The staff report also states that “field lighting will unavoidably create illumination/sky glow when operated at night, particularly along the coast where foggy conditions are common, that will be visible from nearby public scene viewing areas that include Zuma Beach County Park to the south and National Park Service land/Zuma Ridge Trail to the north.”
To mitigate the negative impact, the modified LCP amendment proposed by staff requires that:
a. Lighting shall be minimized, directed downward, and shielded using the best available visor technology and pole height and design that minimizes light spill, sky glow, and glare impacts to public views and wildlife to the maximum extent feasible.
b. Lighting may only occur for a maximum of three days in any calendar week and must be limited to the following time restrictions: During Pacific Standard Time (defined as of 2011 to be the first Sunday in November to the second Sunday in March), the lights may be illuminated no later than 7:30 p.m.
From each September 1 through May 31 period, inclusive, the lights may only be illuminated after 7:30 p.m. up to 18 times, and then (a) only until 10:30 p.m., (b) never on consecutive nights, and (c) on no more than two nights in any given calendar week. The lights may not be illuminated at any time between June 1 and August 31, inclusive, of any year.
An “avian monitoring plan” prepared by “a qualified ornithologist” is required if the lights will be in use at any time from September through the first week in November, or from the last week of March through through May.
The plan shall, “at a minimum, include the following elements: Monitoring shall be conducted by a qualified ornithologist/ecologist to assess potential adverse impacts to migratory and resident bird species.”
“If the Monitoring results indicate that the approved field lighting results in significant adverse impacts upon birds, the City shall require modification of the approved lighting schedule in order to ensure avoidance of the identified impacts.
“The applicant shall be required to submit a written statement agreeing to the above restrictions.”
The report is available online at

Water Tank Hearing Delayed

• Park Service Expresses Concerns


The Malibu Planning Commission is expected to consider the proposed Trancas Highlands water system and utility improvements at its meeting on Oct. 18, after the hearing scheduled for last week was postponed.
The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the National Park Service issued comment letters that were cautionary about how the city had planned for the proposed trails in the area and about how the project might impact views.
City planner Bonnie Blue acknowledged the items had been pulled from the agenda to consider those comments.
“We want to make sure we have an adequate analysis,” she said.
The current plans call for a 500,000-gallon water storage tank constructed on a vacant lot at 31537 Anacapa View Drive, which is located in the northwest corner of the neighborhood, according to planning department documents.
At the same time, at a separate hearing, the council is expected to consider an application on the same property at 31537 Anacapa View Drive for the construction of a new, 12,731 square-foot, two-story single-family home and a new 2250 square-foot access road.
The Trancas Highlands Homeowners Association, one of the applicants, proposes forming a special assessment district to fund the extension of a public water line from Trancas Canyon Park north along Trancas Canyon Road and within the gated private streets of Anacapa View Drive, Beach View Estates Drive and Foxview Drive. The assessment district would encompass about 66 parcels and 209 acres, according to municipal planners.
Water would be obtained from a booster pump station constructed at Trancas Canyon Park, near an existing Los Angeles County Water District No. 29 storage tank that would pump water up to the new tank. Fire hydrants, two pressure reducing stations, valves and other appurtenances would be constructed along the public and private streets.

‘Whole Foods in the Park’ Project May Still Be Many Years Away


Just when is the Whole Foods market coming to Malibu? If the gauge is the planning stage, then the Malibu City Council approval recently of selecting a consultant to prepare the Environmental Impact Report means the project is still years away.
There was no discussion about it. The staff report indicated Camarillo-based Impact Sciences, Inc. was tapped as the consultant to prepare the EIR document for the planned Civic Center Whole Foods in the Park shopping center.
Last November, the council directed planners to seek proposals for consulting services for the EIR for the project. A total of 15 proposals were received. Impact Sciences looked to be the best by the planning staff that reviewed all of the RFPs.
The total cost of $227,935 will be paid for the EIR by the applicant. Generally it takes about up to a year for the EIR to reach the planning commission’s table or longer.
Steve Soboroff, who is spearheading the project, has stated that the project, which consists of the Whole Foods store and four commercial buildings on a six-acre site, would hook up to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, although it could still be several years before it is built.
So if someone asks, “When is Whole Foods coming to Malibu? In local parlance, “Soon.”
In the mean time, the City of Malibu is planning a farewell party for Papa Jack’s Skate Park, which is located on the property and named for its previous owner, on Oct. 1.
The skate park has operated in conjunction with the city’s parks and recreation department for more than 10 years. It is closing to prevent it’s inclusion in the EIR, according to Soboroff.
“We have extended the right for the SB park to stay, rent free, for as long as possible,” Soboroff told the Malibu Surfside News. “Oct. 31 is that date. [The] agreement is signed and complete. We also donated $25,000 to the relocation, I sit on the relocation committee to help, and we are paying for the Oct. 1 event, [and] are doing all we can. Zuma or Bluffs Park seem cool. The city is working hard,” Soboroff said.
Other relocation suggestions have included the Malibu High School campus, the unoccupied triangle of land on the corner of Webb Way and Civic Center or one of the other undeveloped parcels in the Civic Center area.
The city’s skateboard park subcommittee will meet at Malibu City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at noon, after The News goes to press.
An unofficial flyer for the event is requesting that parents bring their children and skateboards to the event.

Anti-Shark Fin Activists Still Await California Protection Act Signature

• Governor Has Until Oct. 9 to Approve AB 376


After a week of deliberation, and recent release of approved and vetoed bills by California State Governor, Jerry Brown, many are left to question what is delaying his authorization.
AB376 is a bill designed to protect sharks from the tormenting practice of “finning.’”
Finning is described as a gory procedure that requires the severing of a sharks fin for commercial use. Once amputated the deep-sea creature is tossed back into open waters, left to sink and die on the ocean floor.
The increasing demand for shark fins has had a devastating toll on the shark population. Assembly California Legislature representatives have noted that “up to 99 percent” of the shark species has been “decimated,” and our ocean’s ecosystem is now at stake.
According to a press release from Governor Browns’ office, it is against protocol to “comment on legislation prior to the Governor taking action.” However, it was clarified that AB376 is still on Governor Brown’s desk, and he has until Oct. 9 to act upon it, along with “500 other bills still on his desk.”
If the bill is not addressed by the set date, it will die, along with several numerous sharks that will be left without protection from the act of finning.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lawsuit Challenging Septic Ban Moves Step Closer to Courtroom

• Malibu Road Homeowner Calls RWQCB Action a Regulatory Taking and Demands 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, will have her day in court on October 26.
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.”
The state attorney general's office, in its first response to the allegations, has filed what is called a demurrer.
“A demurrer is appropriate when the complaint does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action against a party,” the legal brief from the AG's office states. “When the complaint lacks sufficiency, the court must decide whether there is a reasonable possibility that the plaintiff may cure the defect by amendment. The petitioner bears the burden of proving such reasonable possibility. Where the petitioner fails to meet this burden, the court may properly sustain a demurrer without leave to amend. In considering this demurrer, the court may accept all properly pleaded material facts in the first amended petition, but not its contentions, deductions or conclusion of fact of law.”
Here, a review of the first amended petition demonstrates that the petitioner challenges quasi-legislative actions which cannot be challenged through a petition of writ of mandamus. The defect cannot be corrected by further amendment. Thus, the court should sustain this demurrer without leave to amend.”
A prohibition on all Civic Center area septic system 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, over-broad, 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.

A&F Subcommittee\Memo Indicates City Budget Is Already Dipping into Red Ink

• Reserve Fund Has Dropped to Half of Former Size


Despite assurances from Malibu Mayor John Sibert and other council members that the municipality’s finances are on target and in good shape, the Administration and Finance subcommittee heard last week how the city’s current fiscal year budget has dipped into red ink and that the once robust reserve fund has dropped to half of what it once was.
Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman delivered the bad news at the A&F subcommittee meeting on an update of the adopted budget for fiscal year 2011-2012.
Feldman, in her report, noted the council also approved a one-time transfer of $561,000 for CalPers, which came out of the reserve fund.
“The amended general fund expenditures budget for fiscal year 2011-12 is $22,229,534, which provides for an amended budget with expenses exceeding revenues by $1,492,892. The revised projected general fund undesignated reserve at June, 2012 is now $8.3 million,” she noted.
Just last April, the council adopted a policy for a general fund reserve of no less than 50 percent of the city’s annual general fund operating budget. At one time the undesignated general fund stood at nearly $16 million.
Feldman, in her memo, indicated that the council has appropriated $914,500 in additional general fund expenditures. Those approved appropriation are: $8,500 for wireless access at Bluffs Park, $755,000 for litigation expenses for one the Natural Resource Defense Council lawsuit, $34,000 for the Malibu Coastal Vision Project, $40,000 for the Kanan Dume Road improvements design, $2000 for the Arts Task Force stakeholders summit, and $75,000 for the PCH safety study matching grant.
The city also authorized $20,000 for the school district to fund a study on whether an additional athletic field could be constructed at Malibu High School.
Feldman delivered more bleak news about the city’s future finances. This has to do with the debt obligations which are slowly mounting as commencement of payments either has begun or will start soon.
This goes back to the acquisition of Legacy Park in 2006 when the city issued $15 million in certificates of participation or COPs. Feldman noted the city uses the rent collected from the three commercial properties to meet the debt obligation and maintain the property. The annual debt service associated with the COPs is $1.2 million. The city generates $1.3 million from rent collected from the three properties acquired as part of the purchase of Legacy Park.
In 2009, the city acquired the new City Hall and issued another $15 million of COPs for the acquisition of the building. In 2010, the city issued an additional $5 million of COPs for the improvements to City Hall.
“The debt service associated with the City Hall COPs will commence in FY 2012-2013 with a partial payment. By FY 2015-2016, the city will be paying $1.7 million a year in debt service for the COPs associated with the City Hall acquisition and improvements,” Feldman wrote in her staff report.
One idea discussed by the subcommittee was the possibility of generating revenue by licensing Malibu’s name.
The subcommittee, comprised of Mayor John Sibert and Councilmember Lou La Monte heard from the staff about the branding program at the city of Beverly Hills. The city trademarked and licensed its shield logo and is using it on merchandise that is sold throughout multiple retailers and on the Internet.
In 2007, the city entered into a licensing agreement with a full- service licensing agency to promote the Beverly Hills brand. The agreement provided for a split of royalties based on merchandise sold and did not require an upfront fee by Beverly Hills.
However, the arrangement did not generate as much revenue as expected and more recently the city has entered into an agreement with a branding company to specifically market a Beverly Hills perfume and a separate agreement with William Morris Endeavor to market the logo on other merchandise. The city expects to sell its merchandise at a new visitors center it is opening up.
The city also generates cash for the one-time use of their logo in movies and television, which generated $15,000.
Hopes are high that in the future the city could generate revenue up to $500,000.
Feldman recommended the city could establish a branding and licensing committee to work on creating a Request for Proposal to establish a trademarked logo.
Subcommittee members also got to take a look-see at an audit report for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
When the full council ordered up the report, members insisted the audit for the $6.2 million contract for law enforcement was to ensure the city is receiving all of the services specified in its contract with LASD.
The city’s independent auditors Lance Soll and Lunghard performed the review to evaluate compliance of LASD with the city's contract.
“The attached independent accountants’ report indicates LASD is providing and the city is receiving all of the services as required by the contract between the two parties,” wrote Feldman in a staff report.
The auditors indicated through an inquiry with Lt. Steven Smith of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s station, they obtained an understanding of the controls and procedures established by the department to record the number of minutes each month and ultimately for the entire year for the personnel assigned to the service of the City of Malibu.
“In addition, we performed tests to determine that the controls established by the LASD were functioning as intended and that the sheriff was in compliance with the total service units purchased by the city as reported,” the audit report states.
“We obtained the monthly services compliance report summarizing the minutes by day for sworn personnel, civilian personnel and reserve deputies who provided services to the City of Malibu. We judgmentally selected one day each month and traced the minutes,” the audit report noted.
One day from each month from July, 2009 through June 2010 was selected. There were no exceptions, the auditors found.
The auditors also obtained timecards and checked them. The deputy daily worksheets and timecards were traced to the service minutes detailed report.
Auditors checked about tracing the hours to the payroll register, comparing the total minutes provided to the city to the total number of minutes purchased on the contract. The city purchased 2,671,131 minutes and LASD provided 2,684,189 minutes or 13,058 minutes more than the contract.

View Hearing Scheduled

• Council Hopes to Attract Big Audience


The Malibu City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed view restoration ordinance at its meeting next Monday night.
The agenda item was to be originally heard this summer, but was postponed after Councilmember Lou La Monte said the summertime scheduling 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 cobble 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 version.
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 in 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 the proposed ordinance, which was crafted by the municipal task force charged by the city council to vet the issue.
One of the 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 Santmann, and Lucille Keller all joined forces to urge the commission to recommend adoption of their proposed ordinance.

CCC Appoints New Director

• Former Commission Staffer Chosen


A seasoned staff member of the California Coastal Commission with a background in law and academia was tapped by the panel as its executive director replacing longtime head Peter Douglas, according to a commission press release.
The Coastal Commission voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Charles Lester to the top administrative position effective immediately.
Lester has served as senior deputy director of the commission since 2006. His employment at the state agency began in 1997.
Commission Chair Mary Shallenberger said commissioners are fully aware of Lester’s capabilities and approach.
“The entire commission recognizes and appreciates the unique experience, unwavering integrity, and clear vision Dr. Lester brings to this position. While Peter Douglas leaves very large shoes to fill, Charles fits into them quite comfortably,” said Shallenberger.
Lester, who received his PhD in jurisprudence and social policy from the University of California in Berkeley, in addition to a J.D. at Boalt Hall School of Law, said he would emphasize the ongoing importance Californians place on protecting coastal resources and coastal access, the press release stated.
He also acknowledged the importance of improving communications and collaboration with public agencies and local governments along the coast to achieve the purposes of the Coastal Act.
“I am deeply committed to implementing the Coastal Act, but I am also a problem-solver, and I look forward to bringing people together around environmentally sustainable solutions that protect coastal resources and provide maximum public access to the coast for all Californians.”
Lester takes the helm of an agency with 142 authorized staff positions and an annual budget of approximately $16 million.
Before he came on board the commission staff, Lester was an assistant professor of political science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Lester earned his undergraduate degree in geochemistry from Columbia University, the CCC press release added.

Publisher’s Notebook

• Malibu Can Lead the Way •


The Malibu City Council will have the opportunity Monday night to follow the lead of its Public Safety Commission and explore whether to recommend to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that it consider making some changes in its policies and protocol related to the release of arrestees.
The issue of releasing individuals, who either have been booked and are not detained, and those who have spent some time in custody, without adequate consideration for their ability to care for themselves once they leave a sheriff’s station has developed a vocal constituency throughout the nation.
The critics of the status quo says it is in conflict with law enforcement agencies’ commitment to “protect and serve,” may put vulnerable individuals in harm’s way, and ultimately may cost taxpayers large sums of money to defend litigation that might lead to even larger settlements or jury awards.
This public policy concern isn’t related to just one individual or a single case. There have been numerous documented incidents where people have been released from Lost Hills and other LASD stations late at night without access to their car, money, credit cards, or cell phones.
If these individuals don’t have someone to contact, or are unable to reach assistance, they may have to walk alone for miles or accept rides from strangers, or they might even disappear and be found dead.
Certainly, no one in Malibu would want a family member cast out under comparable circumstances. And disparaging these individuals as “law violators” ignores American legal philosophy of innocent-until-proven-guilty and equal-protection-of-the-law.
If an arrestee is ill, physically or mentally, the odds can be even worse. They are struggling to deal with a disability in an area that is unfamiliar, and they may not have access to the usual mix of urban services.
The PSC recommendation that persons not be released between sunset and sunrise unless there is confirmed transportation is simple humanity.
Assuring that individuals are not separated from the personal belongings they need for their personal well-being and safety—a wallet, money or credit cards, a cell phone, and, in cold weather, an outer garment—should not be subject to an arresting officer’s discretion. It should be mandatory.
The City of Malibu can take the initiative in this discussion, which is now occurring in a number of communities throughout the state. The LASD hierarchy recognizes the importance of the issue, it might even welcome the community stepping forward and making it easier to implement a change.

Native American Activist Files Lost Hills Report Alleging Assault by City Committee Member

• Detectives Have Interviewed the Two Men and Are Contacting Possible Witnesses to the Incident


On Wednesday, Sept. 14, at about 7 p.m., outside the main entrance to Malibu City Hall, Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station deputies took an incident report from David Paul Dominguez, a Chumash activist who alleges that a member of the City of Malibu Native American Cultural Resources Advisory Committee assaulted him.
Dominguez told the responding deputies that Harold Greene, a member of NACRAC, which is chaired by his wife Francine Greene, brandished a knife and the Chumash activist feared for his safety. He told the deputies he is “desirous of prosecution on the charge assault with a deadly weapon (knife).”
The incident report was turned over to Lost Hills Detective Sam Taylor for further investigation. He and others have interviewed Dominguez and Greene and are now seeking to communicate with possible witnesses, including two of the other committee members and Jessica Blair, the city staffer who was at the meeting.
Dominguez told the Malibu Surfside News on Monday that he arrived at a NACRAC meeting that was scheduled for Sept. 14 at city hall, and when he learned at that time that the meeting was cancelled, he said he tried to voice criticism of the group’s irregular meeting schedule and what he perceives as its inadequate oversight of Native American resources.
Dominguez said he “felt animosity as soon as [he] entered the meeting room,” and when he learned he would not be able to speak due to the cancellation, he said that he told the members, “You have to quit doing this. You stall on recommendations. You are not protecting our sites.”
The Chumash man said he started to approach the meeting table to discuss this issue with the chair, when Harold Greene allegedly said, “There’s no meeting [and I was told] to get out.”
It was then that Dominguez, who is 50, said he noticed Harold Greene had an open knife in his right hand. He described the knife as red-handled and said he thought it had a three-to-four-inch blade.
The Chumash activist said he thought he heard Francine Greene “yell out ‘Harold, stop…no,’” but he alleged, “[Greene] kept moving forward [and] threatening me.”
Dominguez, who noted that his father is a former chief of the Santa Ynez Chumash reservation, said he thinks the alleged incident was about more than a meeting cancellation.
He indicated that he believes that the “committee stalls on taking action because it is pro-developer.” Dominguez asked, “What recommendations has [the committee] made on cultural resource protection in the past few years?”
Dominguez also contends there is concern among some Chumash that “not enough mitigation [is being required] in archaeologically sensitive zones.”
When contacted by The News on Tuesday, Greene, who is 75, said he had not yet been apprised of the incident report at Lost Hills. In a subsequent call to the newspaper, Greene said there was a message on his home telephone answering machine and he contacted the Detective Bureau at the station to “tell his side of the story.”
Greene said the Wednesday NACRAC meeting was cancelled because of a lack of a quorum. He said Dominguez appeared to become upset at this.
When told he was being accused of “attempted assault with a deadly weapon (knife), Greene laughed and said, “That’s fun.” He had a similar reaction when told that Dominguez indicated that he is desirous of prosecution.
He dismissed the allegations as those of “an argumentative man [who] was acting aggressively toward my wife…and as I was the only man there, I felt I had to do something.”
Greene explained the presence of what he called a “pocketknife” by stating that he “was opening a package containing a piece of art [at the table] when Dominguez began to speak out, [and I] did not realize that I still had [the knife] in my hand” at that point. Greene said, “As soon as I realized it, [I] folded the knife and put the closed knife in my pocket.”
Greene described Dominguez as “very agitated” when he entered the meeting room and said he appeared unwilling to listen to Greene’s explanation that the committee “gets its instructions from the city and has no independent investigative authority.”
Greene said he told him, “If the planning department doesn’t put [a project] on the [NACRAC] agenda, it can’t be discussed.”
On the city website, the group’s charge is described as: “The Native American Cultural Resources Advisory Committee may make recommendations to the city council on matters within the city’s jurisdiction concerning Native American cultural resources, heritage preservation and education programs, and other matters as directed by the city council.”
NACRAC and the other committees and commissions were formed in 1998 by the Malibu City Council. From 1991-1998, municipal study groups addressed the same issue areas. Some critics of the reorganization contended that the change of format politicized the new panels and curbed their independence.
Greene, who made an unsuccessful bid for city council in 2010, and his wife have been involved with the eight-member NACRAC since it was formed.
Francine Greene has also played a primary role in the coordination of the annual City of Malibu Chumash Day since the event’s origination 13 years ago.

25th Annual Triathlon Event Attracts All Types of Athletes


The 25th Annual Nautica Malibu Triathlon, held Sept. 17 and 18, filled Zuma Beach and the surrounding area with competing racers, supporters, volunteer staffers and race sponsors.
Event officials reported a total of $1,120,000 raised for the race’s benefit organization, the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Race officials estimated that the race registered 3200 to compete and attracted hundreds of onlookers as well.
For many attendees of the event, raising money for the Children’s Hospital was just one of the weekend’s attractions. The four Team in Training groups, competing in either Saturday’s Olympic-distance race or Sunday’s Classic-distance race, raised funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Teams from Los Angeles, Orange County, Arizona and even Iowa cumulatively raised over $300,000 for the health organization, according to team captain Holly Sortomme.
Other racers were attracted by competition itself. Elite triathlete Magali Tisseyre, ranked 7th internationally according to Nautica race officials, finished first in the Olympic-distance professional division, with a time of 2:05:45.
Finishing just over 12 minutes behind Tisseyre was Brianna Blanchard, a recent Pepperdine alumna who entered the professional circuit just a year ago.
Finishing first in the men’s professional division was Chris Foster with a time of 1:50:17.
In the Classic-distance race, the overall winners were Craig Pansing with a time of 1:23:41 and Bridget Rosalanka with 1:50:42.
Some competitors have found that triathlon training is a fun way to stay fit. For Lee Wald of Tarzana, the Malibu Nautica Triathlon was his inspiration to get back into shape three years ago.
Wald said he was sitting on the couch eating Twinkies and smoking cigarettes when he saw the race on television. “I thought, I can do that! And then I trained for the race for a year, lost 55 pounds, and did the [Classic-distance race],” Wald said. Since then, he has done a Half-Ironman and an Ironman triathlon, and this year he came back for the Olympic-distance race in Malibu.
Especially inspiring was the display of strength and determination by paratriathletes, who compete despite disabilities such as amputations.
Many paratriathletes in the race were sponsored by the Challenged Athletes Foundation. The organization funds the purchase of athletic prosthetics for people who need them in order to train and compete. Such prosthetics can cost up to $35,000-$40,000, making them unaffordable for many, especially those who are living on federal disability funding.
CAF has donated over 25 million to recipients since it began 18 years ago, according to Travis Ricks, a CAF beneficiary who raced this weekend. With one leg amputated above the knee, Ricks completed the Olympic-distance race with a time of approximately 3:33. Nearly 20 racers affiliated with CAF raced in the Classic event.
The unique Malibu racing experience also draws many competitors and fans. Matt Bonvicin, Council Member for the Southeast Region of the USA Triathlon organization, came from Birmingham, AL to race the Malibu Nautica as he has for the past five years.
He said he enjoys the anonymity of racing in a locale where he is relatively uninvolved, but he also feels that racing in Malibu is something special. “This is such a cool atmosphere. People might think it’s about the celebrities, but it’s just a laid-back kind of town. I love this race,” Bonvicin said.
Whatever the race is about, there was a celebrity racing division as usual, with Ryan Sutter winning the men’s division and Ali Vincent winning the women’s.
Besides cheering on family and friends and watching for famous faces, spectators also were entertained with a Sandcastle demo and many booths run by sponsors of the event.

March for Mitrice Richardson Marks the Date She Went Missing in 2009

• City Council Looks at Recommendations for LASD Changes to Try to Prevent Similar Tragedies


A march in memory of Mitrice Richardson took place last Saturday to mark the two-year anniversary of the date the 24-year-old Los Angeles resident mysteriously disappeared in 2009.
Richardson went missing the day she was released from the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station after being booked on two field-citable charges following a citizen’s arrest at Geoffrey’s restaurant for non-payment of an $89 dinner tab.
The whereabouts of the honors college graduate, beauty pageant competitor, and aspiring psychologist remained unaccounted for until her skeletal remains were discovered 11 months later by park rangers in a remote Malibu Canyon location that was the site of a former marijuana grow.
Friends and family were joined on Saturday by people who saw an announcement for the “March for Mitrice” event hosted by Mitrice, Inc., the nonprofit group formed in Richardson’s memory to try to bring about social change in areas where injustice is perceived.
That Sept. 17 is Constitution Day added another dimension to the day’s symbolism for those who believe that Richardson’s civil rights were violated. Constitution Day commemorates the final drafting and signing of the document in 1787.
March participants gathered just after dawn to trace what may have been Richardson’s final steps—from a residence in Monte Nido, where she is thought to have been sighted on the morning she was released, to the entrance to Dark Canyon on Piuma Road.
A hand-carved wooden signpost at Dark Canyon marks the way to the creek area where Richardson’s nude and partially mummified skeletal remains were found. One leg was at a separate location, and some of the garments she was wearing when she left Lost Hills were scattered in the area near the remains.
The details of the grisly find are a painful image for many of the march participants who hold different theories about whether Richardson was killed elsewhere and moved to the remote spot, or died at the site littered with the detritus of the pot farm.
Coordinating Saturday’s memorial effort was the dead woman’s college mentor and friend, psychologist Ronda Hampton, and the dead woman’s aunt, Lauren Sutton. They brought yellow and orange biodegradable balloons and sunflowers of the same colors—Richardson’s favorite flower.
Participants tied solitary balloons at locations along the route. At the conclusion of the march, marked by prayers, tears, memories and resolve to prevent a recurrence of what they believe to be the negligent release of someone experiencing a mental crisis, the remaining balloons were let loose at the canyon entrance.
When the balloons were released at the conclusion of the march, Pastor Robert Hendricks of New Testament Church in Los Angeles, where Richardson’s funeral services were held, looked up and said one of the balloons appeared to be leading the way.
Hampton said afterward, “There was a silence that was comforting…and [this] brought us a sense of peace.” She said, “I left feeling even more committed to uncovering the mystery behind Mitrice’s death, but also with a firm commitment to play a part in changing the policy of releasing people from jail in such a dangerous manner as Mitrice and others have been released.”
Hampton plans to speak at the Monday, Sept. 26, meeting of the Malibu City Council, when members will address a recommendation from a majority of the municipal Public Safety Commission and consider whether to “request that the sheriff's department consider a change in policy to have local stations allow detainees to be released only between sunrise to sunset unless proper transportation has been secured.”
In addition, a majority of the PSC recommends that “all arrestees be permitted to retain possession” of their wallet, cell phone or other personal possessions to assure their personal safety after release. Currently, the action is a discretionary determination by the arresting deputy, and detainees are often required to leave any belongings in an impounded vehicle that are not already on their person.
This was reportedly the case with Richardson, who was released just after midnight with no purse, money, credit cards, or cell phone, all of which had been placed in her locked vehicle that was impounded in Malibu.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Broad Beach GHAD Gets Council OK

• How to Represent Malibu West HOA Had to Be Resolved


A little wrinkle developed when the Malibu City Council agreed this week to considering setting a public hearing date to consider approving a petition for this week for the formation of the Broad Beach Geological Hazard Abatement District, or GHAD, when the Malibu West Homeowners Association, its president and an attorney came asking the HOA to be included on the GHAD board of directors.
The council was also set to approve the plan of control and appoint five property owners to the initial board of directors of the GHAD. The planning staff recommended the council appoint property owners Steven Levitan, Zan Marquis, Norton Karno, Marshall Grossman and Jeff Lotman as the initial directors for terms not to exceed four years.
Steve Rucker, Malibu West HOA president, said residents were extremely excited about creating a beautiful new beach with the other property owners at Broad Beach. The HOA owns a lot and would be one of the property owners in the assessment district.
Rucker said with 237 homeowners as part of the HOA, which owns 105 feet of beach frontage and a building used for commercial use, they wanted representation on the board.
The HOA’s attorney Ben Benumof said there were many unanswered questions about the plan of control and it would be worthwhile for a Malibu West homeowner to be on the GHAD board.
The council was told there was no opposition to the formation of the GHAD and it appeared—after a show of hands for support—many Broad Beach residents came to show their overwhelming support for the GHAD.
When it appeared there was council approval for the formation of the GHAD, the wrangling began on how the Malibu West HOA could be represented on the GHAD board.
“How do we accommodate the Malibu West HOA?” asked Councilmember Jefferson Wagner.
“I agree with Jay,” said Councilmember Laura Rosenthal. “How did you come up with the five owners?”
Council members were told the owners had already worked years on the project and represented different geographical regions of the beach.
At first when council members asked the attorneys representing the Trancas Property Owners Association about a Malibu West HOA, they were told “No one will step in the way.”
However, after details were explored about how a Malibu West HOA representative could be installed on the board, the wrangling began in earnest.
City Attorney Christi Hogin said, “I’d be reluctant to monkey with the politics of that. The group has been working a long time. Mr. Grossman says he is stepping down in a year and I would take that to the bank.”
Council members intent on having Malibu West represented kept pressing for a way that could happen. There was a discussion about an advisory member. Talk about if the “up to four years” terms could be changed or if more than five members could be appointed to a GHAD board.
Council members also wanted to know why the Malibu West HOA was making the request so late in the game.
“It is a recent thing,” said Rucker. “The notion of the GHAD is becoming apparent. We are the poor kids on the block. Malibu West is a modest neighborhood by Malibu standards.”
“I can understand Malibu West HOA interests. I want them to be represented,” said Mayor John Sibert.
Hogin replied, “I did not hear any resistance to an appointment.” A motion was suggested for the council to appoint an advisory board member for Malibu West.
But, then the GHAD attorney said firstly that Marshall would step down in one year. Then he suggested the council could leave the matter up to the GHAD board.
La Monte said why not call for an ex-officio board member decided by the GHAD. Sibert and Wagner went along with the motion, but Rosenthal dissented. Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich was absent.
According to the staff report, there is no immediate fiscal impact to the city. Once the GHAD has been formed, a funding mechanism has been approved by the board and affected property owners, the costs associated with the operation of the GHAD will be offset by assessments paid by the property owners within the district.
There was debate at the previous city council meeting when at least one property owner and the attorney representing the homeowner took issue with the majority opinion. but not without hearing from one property owner, who is vehemently opposed to it.
“The property on little Broad Beach is geologically different. They all have sea walls. It is a bad deal. It won’t control erosion. It just adds sand. The plan of control does not address erosion,” said an attorney attonery for the dissenting homeowners.
However, there was a show of many hands for the the formation of the GHAD and the plan which includes beach nourishment or replacement of sand.
Steven Levinson said he lives west of little Broad Beach, but believes the proposal offers great benefits for the homeowners. “We would like Broad Beach to not be ironic.”
Dolly Martin said since 1970 when she moved to Broad Beach she has lost 40 feet of her property. “The GHAD is the only way to go. It is putting the sand on the beach for the people. I can’t afford $250,000 [upfront]. The GHAD will allow me to keep [my property],” she said.
The GHAD petition was submitted by attorney Kenneth Ehrlich on behalf of the Trancas Property Owners Association.
The GHAD will provide a means of financing the beach nourishment and associated maintenance, city council members were told.
“The city Department of Public Works has reviewed the proposed plan of control and has determined that public health, safety and welfare require the formation of a GHAD,” a staff report states.
“I assume little Broad Beach and Broad Beach can work this out. There is no beach there. To replace the sand and make it a Broad Beach is a good idea,” he said.
The proposed action stems from the overall plans proposed for Broad Beach where experts have determined there has been a significant change in the width of the beach since 1946.
Broad Beach has experienced variable, but declining beach width at a rate of about two feet per year, according to experts.
“Between 1974 and 2009 approximately 600,000 cubic yards of sand was lost at Broad Beach, a majority of which has moved east to nourish Zuma Beach. On average, the shoreline moved inland 65 feet,” a report from Moffatt and Nichol in April 2010 concluded.
“The sand rate turned negative in 1974 and the loss rate accelerated to approximately 35,000 cubic yards per year during the last five years Recent higher erosion rates during the 2009-2010 winter season necessitated that emergency precautions be taken to protect residential structures and onsite wastewater treatment systems located seaward of the residences.” The report went on to state.
Consequently, the TPOA obtained emergency permits for the installation of a rock revetment about five feet high and 25 feet wide, to protect the existing homes along the beach, city officials noted.
The property owners are now working on getting permits to allow a permanent buried rock revetment along with the periodic sand nourishment. The California Coastal Commission is the permitting agency and will oversee the project.
Planners say it appears at the public hearing that owners of more than 50 percent of the assessed valuation of the proposed district object to the formation. If less than 50 percent submit objections, then the city council can move forward and form the GHAD. The proposed Broad Beach GHAD would span the entirety of Broad Beach and a portion of Victoria Point concluding with 6525 Point Lechuza.
GHADs, according to the planning staff, are a political subdivision of the state and are formed in specific geographic areas to address potential geological hazards. The purpose of a GHAD is to prevent, mitigate, control or abate defined geologic hazards through maintenance improvements or other means.
Financing of a GHAD is accomplished through an assessment of only those property owners who own real estate within the boundaries of the designated district, issuing and serving of bonds, notes or other debentures is also authorized under a GHAD. The assessment will be based on a engineer’s report, which is being prepared by ENGEO, Inc, according to city planners.
The assessments and associated financing of the GHAD improvements would be overseen entirely by the GHAD board.
In an email sent to local media late Tuesday night from Rucker, who described it as “a joint statement to the press,” Rucker wrote, “Despite the decision at last night’s city council meeting to deny Malibu West’s request to have a designated Malibu West member on the GHAD board, the Malibu West board and the Trancas Property Owners Association want our neighbors to know that we have a strong working relationship and a mutual trust in our ability to work within the GHAD to benefit the beach. Subsequent to last night’s meeting the newly appointed GHAD Board communicated to Malibu West the intention of adding a Malibu West designee as an advisory member to work closely with the GHAD Board. Malibu West appreciates the graciousness of this prompt action by the Broad Beach property owners and their representatives.”

BOS Is Slated to Vote on Redistricting Plans

• Approval Requires Four of Five Votes


The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to approve one of three redistricting plans at a second public hearing on Sept. 27, at which the board may vote to adopt one of the plans.
A minimum of four votes is required for adoption.
Board action to adopt a redistricting plan must occur no later than the end of September in order for the corresponding boundary ordinance to be effective by the statutory deadline of Oct. 11, 2011, according to county officials.
On Sept. 6 the proposed redistricting plans, T1, S2, and A3 amended were considered at the first public hearing before the board. Following public testimony, the board closed the first hearing and scheduled the three plans to be considered at a second public hearing on Sept. 27.
Malibu City Council members said this week they will again attend the public hearing to try and convince board members the traditional boundaries that include upland mountain cities should stay aligned, and that the supervisor of the district should be familiar with the Santa Monica Mountains.
“We all spoke at the redistricting meeting. We would be separated from our traditional neighbors. We want to try to prevent that,” said Councilmember Lou La Monte. “We will tell them,‘We ain’t broke, please don’t fix us.’”
“There is also an environmental reason,” said Councilmember Jefferson Wagner. “With the new supervisor boundary, we get a new supervisor, who does not know the ecology of the Santa Monica Mountains.”
Mayor John Sibert said if there is no 4-1 vote, the process calls for a team of three composed of the county attorney, the sheriff and the county assessor to make the decision.
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.
Three proposed maps were each submitted 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’ disrict 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 undergird 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.”
“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 he I-710.
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.”
The board had appointed a boundary review committee to study proposed changes to the boundaries. The committee is an advisory body o the board and will be responsible for preparing a detailed and comprehensive report with recommended boundary changes, according to county officials.

$75,000 Allocated for PCH Traffic Study

• Caltrans to Provide $300,000 Grant to Look at Safety


The Malibu City Council, with Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich absent, unanimously gave the green light this week to appropriating $75,000 from the general fund to serve as a local match for $300,000 for a Malibu Pacific Coast Highway study project.
The city had submitted an application to the Caltrans transportation planning grants program to study safety along PCH in the city, but only metropolitan planning organizations are eligible for grants, so the city partnered with the Southern Californian Association of Governments on the application.
Under the grant terms, SCAG will be the primary recipient and responsible for administration.
Public Works Director Bob Brager, in his staff report, described the study as looking at all modes of travel on PCH and will examine current conditions, and analyze and identify potential strategies to improve safety.
“Ultimately, the study can be used as the basis for a master plan of safety improvements along PCH,” Brager added.
Public safety activist Hans Laetz said the two years to complete the study is too long. “This study won’t be a master plan. This starts us down a road that is not an express,” he said.
Laetz was quick to praise the city for getting the funding but said the city cannot wait two years before it embarks on any safety improvement projects.
“I agree with Hans. We need to try to do it quickly,” said Mayor John Sibert.
But Councilmember Lou La Monte said, “We should seriously consider anytime someone wants to give us money.” He insisted the ad hoc safety committee would move it along. “We are not going to wait for this one report.”
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal said, “I totally agree.”
“We can put the coals under the city manager,” said Councilmember Jefferson Wagner.
City Manager Jim Thorsen responded, saying, “We think we can beat the timeline. We are already meeting with SCAG. We can quickly organize it. There are several things we think we can come back with. We can look at quick and easy designs.”
Rosenthal noted the city got one-third of what was given out in grants. “It is important hearing from the public. I encourage all of us to get involved,” she said.

Use of Rodenticides at High School Raises Issues of Health and Safety

• Misinformation about Chemicals Used Downplays Problem


A sign posted at Malibu High School last week warning that three restricted use rodenticides are currently in use on the fields surrounding the school to kill ground squirrels has raised numerous concerns in the community.
Families of SMMUSD students received a list with the names of all pesticide products “expected to be applied at school facilities” this year. Parents who wish to be notified of “individual pesticide applications” have the option of filing for a “request for individual pesticide application” from their child’s school.
The document lists the following pesticides used by the district: permethrin, phenethyl propionate, piperonyl butoxide, pyrethrins, eugenol, bifenthrin, boric acid, hydramethylnon, bromadiolone, amorphous silica gel, deltamethrin, difethialone, diphacinone, fipronil, chlorfenapyr, cyfluthrin, imidacloprid, aluminum phosphide, zinc phosphide, and glyphosate.
Malibu Mayor Pro Tem Laura Rosenthal was critical of the initial round of concerns.
“I am kind of taking it upon myself to kind of tell you what the issues are,” Rosenthal, an outspoken proponent for the SMMUSD said at the Sept. 12 city council meeting. “I want to thank Bob Stallings, our head of Parks and Rec., for helping me with this, as well as speaking to the principal at Malibu High School, as well as speaking with Board of Education members. And, with a little research, this is what the writers could have found out, that there has been a big problem with ground squirrels at MHS. Not on the fields, but in the hillsides, and actually this school had gotten a notice from the county to take care of this problem. That they were running amok, I guess would be a good way to describe it. And that the school district, like our city, like the LAUSD, follows what California safe schools recommends, which is called an IPM, Integrated Pest Management, strategy that focuses on long-term prevention and suppression of a pest problem, with a combo of techniques.
“Because they do use what is called a toxin, they have to put up certain warnings,” Rosenthal said. “But I was glad to know that the toxin that they do use is a toxin that is in pellet form, is put down a hole, the holes are covered up, so nothing gets out.”
Rosenthal maintained that “the ground squirrels that do eat [the pellets] die, but the poison does not stay in their bodies, so that if they die above ground and another animal eats them, there is nothing left to affect the other animal, whether it be a coyote, a dog, a birds or anything like that.” She did not state how the poison vacates an animal’s remains, leaving them untainted, or where it goes.
However, Rosenthal’s contention that the three poisons listed on the sign at Malibu High School cannot cause secondary poisoning appears to be contradicted by studies and documentation published by numerous government agencies, including the EPA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as numerous scientific studies.
Developed in National Socialist Germany in the 1930s, aluminum phosphide, brand name Fumitoxin, one of the three chemicals listed on the MHS sign, was registered for mammal control in 1981, as a fumigant designed for the control of burrowing rodents.
The EPA has placed this rodenticide in its highest toxicity category. As a restricted use pesticide, it can be used by certified personnel only. According to the manufacturer’s description, the compound converts to a deadly phosphine gas when it comes in contact with moisture, eventually degrading into inorganic phosphate, which is not toxic to humans but is a groundwater contaminant and contributes to ocean water quality degradation.
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report published in 1997, aluminum phosphate has been found to eliminate certain species of ground squirrel, but that “burrowing fumigants will kill animals residing in treated burrows, so it is important to verify that burrows are occupied by target animals. Animals potentially affected by primary poisoning include nontarget rodents, burrowing owls, reptiles and amphibians, rabbits, raccoons, fox, weasel and skunk.”
The EPA lists all organophosphates, including aluminum phosphide, as “acutely toxic to bees, wildlife, and humans.” Recent studies suggest a possible link to adverse effects in the neurobehavioral development of fetuses and children, even at low levels of exposure.
Fumitoxin is alleged to have caused the death of a four-year-old girl and her 15-month-old sister in 2010 in Utah, after the fumigant leaked into the basement of the girls’ home after the defendant used the rodenticide to treat the family’s lawn for gophers. According to the allegations, the toxic fumes were spread throughout the house by the air conditioning. The case is currently being heard in Salt Lake City.
Strychnine and diphacionone, the other two rodenticides listed on the warning sign at MHS, are also restricted use pesticides.
Strychnine is a colorless crystalline alkaloid that is a favorite with murder mystery writers because of its high level of toxicity and the fact that it has no specific antidote. It is a well-documented frequent cause of secondary poisoning in cats and dogs, and species like coyote.
Diphacionone is an anticoagulant rodenticide. It has repeatedly been linked to the death of owls, hawks, and other non-target species. There is a growing body of research that links anticoagulants to sarcoptic mange in bobcats and coyotes, a crippling condition that leads to a slow, painful death if not treated.
A study published in March 2011 by scientists from Maryland and Colorado using American kestrels suggests that raptors are at greater risk from poisoning from the rodenticide diphacinone than previously thought.
The research, published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, examines the threat posed by diphacinone as its usage has increased following restrictions on the use of similar pesticides.
“Recent restrictions on the use of some rodenticides may result in increased use of diphacinone,” said lead researcher and author Barnett Rattner, of the U.S. Geological Survey. “Very few controlled studies have examined its toxicity in birds, so it is important to determine how lethal this chemical is to wildlife.”
“Diphacinone was found to be considerably more toxic to American kestrels than previously reported in tests of other wildlife test species,” Rattner wrote.
“The use of these pesticides is another example of the school district’s one-size doesn’t fit anyone approach,” one of the school’s neighbors told the Malibu Surfside News. “Santa Monica is an urban environment, western Malibu is not. The district doesn’t understand that, and our hawks, owls, bobcats, raccoons, skunks, dogs and children have to pay the price for that. This needs to stop. The City of Malibu is using raptor poles at Trancas to control the gophers. The district needs to look at the alternatives, too.”
City of Malibu Public Safety Commissioner Susan Tellem brought the issue up at the panel’s September meeting last month.
She requested that the item be placed on the PSC’S October adgenda. She was told by staff that Jim Thorsen, the city manager, would have to decide if the issue was appropriate for the commission to discuss.
“A lot of mothers are upset about this,” Tellem said. “Fumitoxin, strychnine and anticoagulants? This is really bad news for the kids. Kids, dogs walk on it, dogs being poisoned. I want to put it on the agenda. This is a major safety issue.”