Malibu Surfside News

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Seven Candidates to Vie for Three Council Seats on April 10

• Secretary of State Randomly Determines Ballot Order for Listing of Candidates’ Names

BY BILL KOENEKER

The ballot for the Malibu City Council election set for April 10 is complete as the nomination period of nearly five weeks of candidate hopefuls returning papers has ended.
Seven candidates qualified for the council race with their position on the ballot determined by the Secretary of State who chose letters at a random drawing to determine placement.
The following are the candidates for the upcoming election in ballot order:
Hamish Patterson, carpenter; Skylar Peak, business owner; Hans Laetz, reporter/environmental analyst; Andy Lyon, Realtor/actor; Joan House, retired teacher; K. “Missy” Zeitsoff, teacher; and John W. Sibert, scientist/administrator. There are three seats up for election.
Those who did not return papers or declined to run are: current Councilmember Jefferson Wagner, producer Bobby Hayward, attorney Mike Sidley, attorney Jack Utter and Optimist Club member and community volunteer Amy Zimmermann.
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who is termed out, is precluded from running again.
Councilmember John Sibert is the only incumbent. He is seeking reelection to a second term.
All of the candidates were asked by the Malibu Surfside News to briefly state why they are running and what their top priorities are.
Peak said, “I am running for city council to be a participant in the decisions that will affect the future of Malibu, our residents, our mountains and our coastline. My decisions will protect and preserve Malibu. I am open minded and willing to listen to both sides of an argument. Malibu has a small town vibe and I don’t want that to change,” Peak said.
The council hopeful indicated he has a vested interest in a long-term plan for the community, “as I am 27 and plan to be here for life. I am the only candidate that has gone to school here from kindergarten—university, having firsthand experience in our local public school system. My priorities are education, wastewater, safety and fiscal responsibility.”
Peak also took some stands on issues. He noted that he thinks Malibu’s youth will benefit from having its own school district. He pointed out that wastewater is a complex issue, but can be summed up by saying, “Onsite water treatment systems work when engineered properly, evaluated and monitored regularly. And the science is backing this up. I am not convinced a centralized facility is needed in the Cross Creek area as this will pave the road for more development which leads to more traffic.”
Hans Laetz introduced himself by saying, “We have a really good group of candidates, experienced, neophytes and then there is me.”
“I have never been on the council. I can’t match the multiple terms, but have been working on civic issues for five years,” he added.
Laetz said he did not want to sound negative, but the incumbent John Sibert has to offer some explanations on how he voted on some of the issues. “The incumbent has a lot of explaining to do to uphold the General Plan when he voted for 12 variances and waivers on a huge project at Trancas,” he said.
Laetz also said House owes the voters an explanation on her decision to run for a fourth term.
“That is not what the people voted for. Again, I don’t want to sound negative, but that has to be an issue, but that is just politics,” he said.
“But what really matters is there has been a 20-year failure to fix PCH, a failure to demand safe power lines and a failure to provide adequate water for fire,” he added.
House referred to her candidate’s statement. “I consider it a duty to protect Malibu’s environment and its natural and cultural resources so that future generations can enjoy what my family had enjoyed for over thirty-five years. That is why I served as vice-chair of the General Plan Task Force which wrote Malibu’s ‘Constitution,’ chair and present member of the planning commission; mayor, and member of the Malibu City Council.
“I have a proven record of working to end pollution that threatens our water; controlling high-density development; addressing the traffic dangers on PCH; and striving to build a financially healthy city by establishing an $8 million reserve fund.
“If elected, I pledge to demand that large landowners consider the community’s needs, not just their balance sheets; to limit the ‘build-out’ in the Civic Center and Trancas areas; expand our recreational facilities to meet the needs of our adults and youth; create a city-wide shuttle service which will reduce traffic and pollution; and implement a fire-safety program.
“I will encourage civil dialogue and avoid discord which stifles our creativity, and divides our community. I would be honored to serve you, and ask for your vote on April 10,” she wrote in her statement.
Missy Zeitsoff said she has some unfinished business from 20 years ago. “The greatest little city in the world has growing pains, and I have a plan to keep Malibu…Malibu. We don’t need a redo of a perfectly fine lagoon. We don’t need a growth inducing, potentially hazardous and outrageously expensive sewer in the Civic Center. We must work with A Safer PCH, and bring back “Slow Your Pace on PCH.” Seniors need low cost housing, and an assisted living residence.
“We need to honor the voters who, in 2008, voted for an ordinance for view restoration. We need to stop a rapid decrease in our reserve fund, as disaster could occur at any time in Malibu. The budget needs more scrutiny, and belts must be tightened. The council needs to make policy; the staff needs to carry it out. Currently, this isn’t the case. We became a city to have slow and sensible growth. We need a slow growth ordinance, which measures every project against infrastructure constraints, like PCH. These are my major goals for my one term as a council member,” she concluded.
Incumbent Councilmember John Sibert said he decided to seek one more term to finish some of the work he has begun in the last few years.
“Particularly the initiatives on clean water and protecting the unique Malibu environment. We have kept the budget balanced while maintaining a reasonable reserve and still building parks and the new City Hall,” he said.
“There are also a number of issues of public safety and relationships with external agencies that must be addressed in a fiscally responsible manner. I believe that I have the experience that can contribute to successfully accomplishing many of these goals.”
Council hopeful Andy Lyon said he is running because he wants to try to preserve the town he grew up in.
“I feel that right now Malibu is at a critical crossroads and I don’t like the direction that the current council is taking it. We became a city to fight the sewers and stop overdevelopment to keep Malibu’s rural beauty intact from outside forces, and it seems that is exactly the opposite to what the city is trying to do,” Lyon said. “Basically I am doing this because I feel that if the direction the majority of the current council is allowed to be reinforced with more of the same ‘machine’ people, the Malibu I love will be lost. Now is the time to stop the machine.”
“My top priorities: To stand up for Malibu. I want to stop the lagoon project. I want the city to reverse their stance on the sewer issue now that the USGS report is showing that it is bird fecal matter not septic [systems] polluting the lagoon and take that information to fight the [Regional Water Quality Control Board]. The local homeowners will pay for a sewer that will benefit the commercial developers. I am concerned with the overdevelopment of central Malibu that seems to be the direction that the current council is letting happen with going down the road of sewers,” Lyon added.
Patterson said Malibu became a city to protect itself from urban encroachment, keep the environment healthy and intact, and nurture a cohesive and friendly community spirit.
“What happened? Sewers, shopping plazas, parking lots, traffic, bulldozers in environmentally sensitive areas, deadly roads, and community fragmentation,” he said.
“How are we worse off than when we started? Hidden agendas, closed-door meetings, outside influences, and community disillusioned at a city government with a deaf ear to its needs,” Patterson added.
The council hopeful said PCH is deadlier than ever, only the super-rich can build dream homes, community services lack, chain stores threaten to make Malibu a giant shopping mall from Trancas to Big Rock.
“It is time for new faces, new ideas and new energy. I have worked, struggled, and grown up in Malibu, which gives me a genuine feel for the community. My only agenda is to be of service to Malibu and prevent its alteration into another overdeveloped beach town,” he added. The nominating process is whereupon candidates must obtain the signatures of not less than 20 Malibu registered voters “nominating” the candidate for a position on the ballot. No more than 30 signatures may be obtained.
The filing period for write-in candidates is Feb. 13 through March 27. Voters may request vote-by-mail ballots from March 12 to April 3. The last day to register to vote is March 26.
joan house
hans laetz
andy lyon
hamish patterson
skylar peak
john sibert
missy zeitsoff

Broad Beach GHAD Dissenter Wages Online Assault to Air Major Concerns about Project

• Contends Homeowners in the Dark

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Broad Beach Geological Hazard Abatement District has a dissenter in its ranks. Property owner Paula Kent Meehan has gone on the offensive with a websit—FriendsofBroadBeach.com—that challenges the GHAD, its board and its activities.
Kent Meehan is reported to be a Beverly Hills resident who made her money developing Redken hair care products, which she subsequently sold. She currently is president of her own investment company.
Board members found out about her objections when a glossy handout was distributed at last Sunday’s board meeting and Alan Abshez, a land use attorney representing her, tangled with board members. Years ago Abshez represented the Malibu Bay Company in a fight with Malibu city officials.
Ken Ehrlich, the attorney representing the GHAD, said as far as the board knows, she is a lone dissenter, who owns two homes on Broad Beach.
“She is FriendsofBroadBeach. com, which is sort of misleading. We prepared a letter in response and are going to see how it plays out,” the GHAD attorney said.
Ehrlich said Kent Meehan has also hired another law firm to take care of a nonprofit created to accept donations and a public relations firm Dakota Communications. “There are 121 parcels and one dissenter,” Ehrlich added.
Neither Kent Meehan, nor any representation, was at the city council meeting when the GHAD was formed.
Her website goes on to state,
“The GHAD is planning to expand Broad Beach to create a large public beach in front of our homes without the homeowners first being provided a full understanding of the environmental impacts of the project.” Her brochure says “Our money. Their Beach?”
Just weeks ago, board member Zan Marquis noted the GHAD enjoys “overwhelming support among the 100 plus property owners along Broad Beach.”
He indicated restoring the dry sandy beach and dunes of Broad Beach is in everyone’s interest.
“The rebuilt sand dunes will cover the rock revetment and the widened sandy beach will provide extensive public access along the entire beach,” he added.
There is an upcoming vote on Feb. 5, asking property owners to consider a proposed assessment cap of $400 per linear foot. As noted by the board, the vote is not asking property owners whether they want to be included in the GHAD.
The Kent Meehan brochure challenges the sand replenishment program saying the tons of sand “can destroy intertidal biota, dune plants and other [marine life].” The website maintains the homeowners will pay the entire costs for a public beach without any guarantees.
GHAD Broad Beach property owners Steven Levitan, Zan Marquis, Norton Karno, Marshall Grossman and Jeff Lotman were tapped as the initial board of directors for terms not to exceed four years.
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.
The Broad Beach GHAD spans the entirety of Broad Beach and a portion of Victoria Point concluding with 6525 Point Lechuza.
GHADs, according to the city’s 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.

City to Spend $40,000 for Skatepark Design

• Current Equipment to Be Moved Temporarily to Location

BY BILL KOENEKER

To the thunderous applause of a standing-room-only crowd of young people and skateboard enthusiasts, the Malibu City Council this week unanimously agreed to spend up to $40,000 for design services for a new skatepark at Malibu Bluffs.
Skatepark enthusiasts praised the council’s decision. The call for design services is for a permanent facility at Bluffs Park.
However, this time was not without controversy as another group of park users, mostly seniors, urged the council to seek another venue for the skateboarders instead of Bluffs Park.
Hope Berk said it was too much to add another facility at Bluffs Park.
Jane Hannigan said the Bluffs Park location is “an impossible location” and that other sites should be more closely investigated including Trancas or Zuma Beach.
Council candidate Hamish Patterson said there had already been extensive discussions about other locations and that Bluffs Park fits the bill. “To deny use of the park to any one group would not be right,” he said.
There was a line of not just youngsters, but adult skateboarders moms and dads, who came to the council chambers to express their support for a skatepark and in particular a skatepark at Bluffs Park.
“Think about sharing it with the children. It is a world-class location. If you oppose it, take a deep breath, but keep the kids off the street,” he added.
Point Dume resident David Brotman suggested the design and construction of a skatepark could be turned into a competition for possibly a unique design.
Former planning commissioner Regan Scharr, whose son is a skateboard champion, said there are more children with a skateboard than own baseball mitts. “Skateboards are not just really for children,” she said.
Last year, the city council formed a Skatepark Ad Hoc Committee to address the loss of the city’s skate park. The committee, comprised of outgoing Councilmembers Jefferson Wagner and Pamela Conley Ulich, were tasked with assessing the need for a permanent or temporary skatepark, identifying potential locations with favorable zoning and community acceptance and researching funding sources and costs for new park construction.
The panel assessed several options for construction of a temporary skate park. Of the sites considered, a portion of the Malibu Bluffs Park parking lot was deemed the most feasible location.
Both council members talked about how other locations were looked at, but none proved as feasible as the Bluffs Park since the city owns the land.
“Bluffs Park is the place to put this. The kids are already there,” said Councilmember Lou La Monte. “We need to find a way to build a world-class skatepark. But we need to put a temporary park in now.”
“The staff is currently working on a plan to establish a temporary skate facility at the park, including negotiating an agreement with the adjacent property owner to use a portion of his land for parking,” said Bob Stallings, the city’s parks and recreation director, in a memo to council members.
Councilmember John Sibert said he had met with the folks who oppose the location. “We don’t know the design. We don’t know how it fits in at Bluffs Park,” he said, saying that is what the designers would show.
Sibert asked City Manager Jim Thorsen how long it would take to build a new park and was told anywhere from 15 months to two years.
At first, the council members got into a confusing discussion about how to proceed and what money to spend, but got back on track when City Attorney Christi Hogin explained that what was before them was only a Request for Proposal with authorizing up to $40,000 for the design process.
The council figured they already have the money to make the move of the old equipment onto the existing site at the bluffs location.
During subsequent meetings, according to city officials, community skaters expressed interest in placing a higher priority on constructing a permanent skate park in Malibu.
“The proposed scope of work for the RFP will include tasks for community outreach, conceptual design, schematic design, final design development and construction documents. The design work would include conceptual and schematic design, grading and drainage plans, community meetings to discuss needs and final construction documents and specifications,” Parks and Recreation Director Bob Stallings told council members.
Conley Ulich and Wagner announced at the previous council meeting they had reached a tentative agreement for locating the skate park at Bluffs Park.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said the old equipment is expected to be relocated to the new site and the agreement is being routed through attorneys. The municipal staff is currently looking at the exact cost for the move over to the Bluffs Park.
The city council several months ago unanimously voted to authorize the city manager to negotiate and sign a short-term lease/permitting agreement not to exceed $35,000 annually to relocate the city-run skatepark.
Almost 10 months ago, the city received notice of termination of the skatepark agreement, the new owners including Steve Soboroff needed to get back the land for an Environmental Impact Report that is about to begin on the property for a Whole Foods anchored shopping center. Soboroff said recently a lease has been signed by the Whole Foods Company
After further consideration, Soboroff agreed to extend the use of the property through Oct. 31, 2011 to allow more time for the city to relocate the park.
Municipal officials have always talked about using the parking lot at Malibu Bluffs Park.
However, planners insist the feasibility of relocating to the site is dependent on the use of the privately owned property adjacent to the park to offset the loss of parking spaces.
The committee also considered relocating the skatepark to the west end of the Zuma Beach parking lot # 12.
Wagner said the problem in relocating the park is the difficulty in securing property. “It is not a matter of will,” Wagner said in addressing the critics at a previous meeting. “We are not sitting on our hands. And I agree the park should be for all ages.”
Other costs include moving the ramps, possible fencing, windscreens, resurfacing, access gates and office trailer and utility connections.
“Until the relocation site has been identified, the projected costs are anticipated to range from $15,000-$50,000. Once a final location is determined, staff will present a budget to the city council for approval,” Stallings concluded in a previous staff report.
For more than 12 years, the city had maintained an agreement at no cost to use vacant land that was called Papa Jack’s skate park.

Final EIR for MHS BB Construction Released

• Light Pollution Remains Major Issue

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

The final environmental impact report for Measure BB-funded construction on the Malibu High School campus, released this week, indicates that the project will have a “significant and unavoidable impact” on dark skies, and that the light pollution generated by the development project will create permanent light pollution that will potentially change the “character” of the community.
The draft EIR received 30 comment letters expressing concern over aspects of the proposed project, which includes a 150-space parking lot, lit until 10 p.m. on school nights with 18-foot poles on a bluff overlooking the school, a new library and two-story middle school building and a new drop off area for students.
The majority of the letters expressed concerns over the impact of the parking lot lights on the area’s dark skies.
“Night lighting associated with the 150-space parking lot that would be operational until 10 p.m. on school nights with some exceptions, would result in a significant and unavoidable impact due to the night lighting’s contribution to sky glow, discussed in detail under DEIR Impact 4.1-3. As disclosed on DEIR page 4.1-82, “... Between the hours of dusk and 10 p.m. on evenings when school is in session, the proposed outdoor lighting’s contribution to sky glow would further reduce the contrast of stars and other celestial objects against the dark sky background, which are considered natural scenic resources,” the EIR states.
“To reduce the Proposed Project’s impact, mitigation measures 2 intended to direct light downward onto school property and to maintain the dark conditions of the surrounding area during the late hours of the night have been identified,” the report states.
However, “implementation of these mitigation measures would not reduce this impact to a less than significant level. Therefore, in consideration of the existing night lighting conditions in the surrounding area, the DEIR has made the appropriate significant and unavoidable impact finding.”
In addition to the parking lot and a new access road, other elements of the project include a reconfigured pick up and drop off area; a new library; a new two-story middle school building; two new tennis courts; synthetic turf for the athletic field; and improved waste water systems.
The Final EIR is available online at www.malibucity.org or www.smmusd.org
SMMUSD’s Board of Education will consider certifying the Final EIR and adopting findings, a statement of overriding considerations, and a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program at the SMMUSD Board meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2, at Malibu City Hall.

Residents Raise Concerns over Lagoon ‘Dewatering’ Proposal

• Council Members Agree Plans Require Closer Scrutiny

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Malibu residents raised a number of concerns over a dewatering process for the proposed Malibu Lagoon construction project at the Malibu City Council meeting this week.
“I’m here to speak this evening about the 1.3 million gallons of treated water that is going to be entering the surf zone in regard to the Malibu Lagoon Restoration project,” Malibu resident Wendi Warner told the council during public comment. “I am speaking about the narrow window of opportunity to ensure that beachgoers, swimmers and surfers will be protected during the Malibu Lagoon construction project, if it moves forward.”
“I have completely lost confidence in the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the environmental organizations that are supposed to be responsible watchdogs for the public,” Werner said.
“I have poured over hundreds of documents that obviously were not transparent to the public, in response to all of questions, and as I've been looking into these documents I've found that there are some serious questions raised by the City of Malibu,” Warner said.
“The proposed water quality for the sampling is sorely lacking in bacterial analysis and the city also finds that the proposed filtration method, using carbon and resin vessels, will not disinfect. Using only chlorine for disinfection at the flow rate is not recommended.
“The proposed list of constituents for testing only included fecal coliform [bacteria], and all three fecal indicator bacteria must be monitored during the [dewatering] process,” Werner said.
“I ask the city to seriously pursue new monitoring and the best available science.”
“Last year, the bidders for this project pointed out that the dewatering plan was completely flawed,” Werner stated. “[The project] completely ignored the real potential for bacteria to increase during the construction and post construction, especially between the dewatering discharge location and the surf zone. So, this project for the ocean could cause a serious public health hazard, and I’m asking the city to please make sure that this lagoon project is, if it does go forward, that you take a serious look at it.”
Werner told the Malibu Surfside News after the meeting that the proposed dewatering mechanism described in the official project manual is one-tenth the size required to clean and disinfect the 1.3 million gallons of water that must be pumped out of the lagoon and into the ocean per day in order to enable the construction project to commence.
“According to the bidders, and they are the expert contractors that will be responsible for the actual work, it’s 10 times smaller than it needs to be,” Werner said. “As designed, it’s only capable of handling 10 percent of the water.
“[Project spokesperson] Suzanne Goode hasn’t addressed this. She keeps saying ‘we can’t dig the lagoon out with a spoon,’ but they don’t have a concrete plan for the dewatering.”
Longtime Malibu resident Steve Dunn, who is Werner's husband, also had concerns about the dewatering portion of the lagoon project.
“I have had the pleasure of surfing in Malibu since 1962,” Dunn told the Malibu City Council. “The process with which the [lagoon project] will discharge the water with no monitoring locations at the discharge site, sending levels of bacteria into the surf zone, will cause a public health hazard and possibly close the beaches and the surf zone.”
“They propose discharging 1.3 million gallons per day on the sand and the beach,” Dunn said. “The rate of discharge, as proposed, will inadequately disinfect the water before it is discharged into the surf zone. These organizations that receive public donations to be our environmental watchdogs are the ones in fact creating a public health hazard. In the long run, leaving the City of Malibu holding the bag.”
“I think we are all concerned with that, and were in the beginning,” said Councilmember John Sibert.
“The letter that the city sent said, ‘the City of Malibu has strong concerns regarding the project's potential adverse impact on water quality,’” Sibert read.
“‘We have developed and believe two specific areas need to be enhanced by additional permit conditions on the lagoon restoration project: bacterial indicator monitoring during construction and post construction and avian surveys pre-construction and post-construction.’”
“That was just part of the letter we did send to the Coastal Commission, because we had the same concerns that you did,” Sibert said. “I think we can reiterate those concerns.”
“I hate to do this, but I want to read from the same letter John was reading,” said Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich. “It also clearly states based on the expertise and information provided to the city by the agency involved, the city is again voicing it’s support of the project and the commissions’ issuance of a permit to complete this project.”
“The concerns were outlined after the support was given,” Conley Ulich said. “Since that time—we’re going to be working on it tonight-we had a meeting in April 2011 where we did have different scientists testify and there was ample opportunity to take your support and withdraw it and ask the governor to reconsider. I did that,” Conley Ulich said, describing her trip to Sacramento, where she spoke with the governor’s representative and told him about her concerns with the project.
“I think its time for the city to take a stand and either support the project on the record or oppose it, or ask for a reconsideration, instead of just trying to pick out the words that suit your case, let’s look at the whole case.”
“I would invite all of my colleagues on the city council to take action. It’s not time to sit back and wait. The project is going to commence in June. The time to act is now.”
“I wanted to also report that I was informed by Scott Valor of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission that I was appointed as an alternate of the City of Malibu I have been replaced by Laura Rosenthal. John Sibert, who is the vice chair, replaced me. Unfortunately I didn’t get notice from John.”
“I’m not the vice chair,” Sibert said.
Sibert is described on the SMBRC website as a voting member of the governing board. He explained that he selected Rosenthal because Conley Ulich will be termed out of office in April. Sibert is running for reeliction.
“Well, you are on the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, decided to replace me with the alternate of Laura. I just found that out last week,” Conley Ulich responded.

Publisher’s Notebook

• Day One on the Malibu Campaign Trail •

BY ANNE SOBLE

The streaming of this week’s city council meeting—when it wasn’t being interrupted by technical glitches—was an opportunity to see some of those who are now candidates for Malibu City Council speaking as such.
The lone incumbent in the race was at the dais, with access to the advantages that incumbency accrues—name recognition, a carryover campaign organization, a proven donor base, and the potential to implement council actions beneficial to a reelection campaign.
Four of the neophyte candidates had face time during the public comment and agenda item segments of the meeting and demonstrated an ability to speak cogently on diverse issues and work a crowd in their favor.
If municipal voters are going to go to the polls with as clear a picture as possible of the seven people on the April 10 ballot, it is time for voters to try to begin to attend political functions, watch city meetings online and read everything political that is available.
Talk has already begun about “new blood/time for change” candidates versus “old guard/machine politics” candidates. Whether candidates fit into categories along these or any other lines is expected to play out in the weeks ahead.
Interestingly, there are marked age differences between the first four names on the ballot and the final three, although two of the latter are in such clear opposition on issues and allegiances that they defy pairing.
One is stating the obvious when noting there is a tremendous amount of discontent with a number of current council stances. This reminds me of when city voters rebelled against the controversial then-council-backed Measure M—which happened to have been co-authored by one of the current council candidates—that would have allowed major commercial development in parts of Malibu.
When politicians are being criticized, they often try to marginalize opposition by slowing down the decision-making process with redundant studies. Issues can be dragged out until right before an election (possibly after many absentee voters have already cast their ballots) or kept from being acted on until after the polls have closed—classic Machiavellian political strategy.
The opponents of the state’s Malibu Lagoon construction project have made it clear that they will not be marginalized. They have dubbed the council’s recent move to undertake a new study without withdrawing the initial city support of the controversial project a political ploy.
However, those seeking a city measure to uphold Malibu’s General Plan and Mission Statement and protect its semi-rural atmosphere and locals-serving small businesses are apparently being co-opted to try to prevent that concern from becoming a council campaign issue.
Those who were so outspoken about PCH safety last year also seem to have been lulled into repose, but at least three council candidates so far have indicated PCH is going to be a major campaign talking point for them.
Malibuites should tell those seeking their votes that stalling for political advantage is not tolerated. Voters then might be able to rewrite the maxim “You can’t fight City Hall” to read “City Hall keeps Malibu Malibu.”

SMMUSD Approves $225,760 for ‘Soft Costs’ Associated with MHS Field Lighting

• Community Fundraising Planned to Help Cover Portion of Final Project Cost Estimated at $665,000

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

The controversial Malibu High School field lighting plan took another step forward last Thursday, when the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education approved without comment a consent item authorizing a budget of $225,760 to pay for the estimated "soft costs" of installing permanent field lighting at the Malibu High School athletic field.
According to the staff report, the soft costs include “design, CEQA, project management, and agency fees.”
“The total project costs, including the soft costs and hard costs, are estimated to be $665,000,” the report states. “A subsequent board item will be submitted requesting a budget allocation for the hard costs at a future meeting. A more accurate estimate of the hard costs will be prepared after the planning and design is complete,” the report states. A fundraising organization is reportedly being organized in Malibu to finance the hard costs of installation, which the staff currently estimates at approximately $436,520.
The board also approved an additional $44, 886 for Atkins North America, Inc. to pay for “additional services to prepare an addendum to the approved Mitigated Negative Declaration for the proposed Stadium Lighting project at Malibu.”
“On July 1, 2009 the board of education adopted Resolution 8-49, finding that the mitigated Malibu High School Football Lighting Project will not have a significant effect on the environment, adopting the Proposed Project MND, and approved the project,” the report states.
“The approved MND was based on the analysis of a temporary lighting system. However, in October of 2009 the California Coastal Commission did not approve an amendment to an existing CCC permit that would have allowed the use of temporary lighting at the site.
“Their reason for the disapproval was that the approved Malibu Local Coastal Plan did not allow the lighting.
“On Oct. 5, 2011, the California Coastal Commission approved an amendment to the Malibu Local Coastal Plan, presented by the City of Malibu, allowing lighting at the Malibu High School athletic field. The project being proposed is to install permanent lighting at the athletic field.
“The California Environmental Quality Act, Section 15164 requires that the differences between the approved project (temporary lights) and the proposed project (permanent lights) must be analyzed and any new impacts not addressed in the approved MND must be mitigated.
Atkins will “complete an analysis of all 17 CEQA issues analyzed in the approved MND, and prepare an addendum to the approved MND,” the report states.
“If the completed analysis determines that the proposed project introduces new impacts and mitigations not addressed in the approved MND, a supplemental MND process would be required to allow public review and comment on the new impacts and mitigations.”
“On July 1, 2009, the Board of Education adopted Resolution 8-49, finding that the mitigated Malibu High School Football Lighting Project will not have a significant effect on the environment, adopting the Proposed Project MND, and approved the Project. The approved MND was based on the analysis of a temporary lighting system.
“However, in October of 2009 the California Coastal Commission did not approve an amendment to an existing CCC permit that would have allowed the use of temporary lighting at the site. Their reason for the disapproval was that the approved Malibu Local Coastal Plan (LCP) did not allow the lighting.
On Oct. 5, 2011, the California Coastal Commission approved an amendment to the Malibu Local Coastal Plan, presented by the City of Malibu, allowing lighting at the Malibu High School athletic field. The project being proposed is to install permanent lighting at the athletic field. The California Environmental Quality Act, Section 15164 requires that the differences between the approved Project (temporary lights) and the proposed project (permanent lights) must be analyzed and any new impacts not addressed in the approved MND must be mitigated. Contract Amendment #22 is for Atkins to complete an analysis of all 17 CEQA issues analyzed in the approved MND, and prepare an Addendum to the approved MND.
If the completed analysis determines that the proposed project introduces new impacts and mitigations, not addressed in the approved MND, a supplemental MND process would be required to allow public review and comment on the new impacts and mitigations.”
Before the lights can be installed, the district must apply for and receive a Conditional Use Permit from the City of Malibu and develop an avian monitoring program required by the California Coastal Commission.
If the CUP is received, the lights will be subject to restrictions imposed by the CCC in an attempt to mitigate what the coastal panel acknowledged will be a “negative impact” from increased light pollution.
The SMMUSD’s field lighting plan for Malibu High School has been a highly divisive issue in the City of Malibu, pitting residents and environmental activists against sports enthusiasts.
The CCC agreed with activists that the plan as proposed first by the school distract and then by the City of Malibu would have the potential to negatively impact resident and migratory birds and imposed limits to the number and frequency of nights the school will be permitted to use the lights, provided the funding and the city permits are secured.

Local Business Support Efforts Allowed to Wane by City Council

• Stakeholders Group Assumes New Leading Role

BY BILL KOENEKER

A staff report prepared for this week’s Malibu City Council meeting described as an update on what was once a hot topic—growing and sustaining local community serving business—is being criticized by the resident group that was formed to tackle the commercial development issue.
The update indicates the most recent step implemented by staff was formation of a stakeholders group to provide direction.
“The stakeholders group [consists] of ten participants—five from the Preserve Malibu group and five commercial shopping center property owners/ managers/representatives. Each interest determined its representation; however, the meeting [was] informal and not open to the public,” wrote Joseph Smith, an associate planner for the city, in a staff report.
However, before the council members could discuss the stakeholders meeting the first session was held last week.
Smith stated in the memo the objectives of the meetings will be to attempt to reach a consensus between the varying interests, allow an informal platform to openly share with one another and consider possible outcomes for future consideration by the city council.
He did not name the participants who are the stakeholders.
The reaction in a flurry of emails, sent to Smith from the Preserve Malibu group was less than enthusiastic.
“We really don’t see much point in attending this January city meeting that is simply updating the council—we’re unsure what the planning department will be updating them on as very little has moved forward, unfortunately, since the last city meeting.
“At this pace, Trancas [shopping center] will be finished and leased before any ordinance is created—this pace is simply not acceptable to citizens. We fully understand that the lack of progress is because no clear direction from the city has been given to the planning department to write up an ordinance,” wrote J. Flora-Katz on behalf of the residents group.
The group also questioned why the update was being moved from its schedule on the agenda in February to the meeting in January.
“We see no reason why the city can’t get the info together for a real city meeting in February—where a vote will happen. There’ll be a meeting with developers in the next few weeks. It is highly unlikely in [one month] that they agree to anything—or at least much of anything. Our proposal is ready. You know, we know what the citizens are asking for. It’s very clear. In reality this city effort is not dependent on an agreement with the developers. Would be nice, but not required and should not hold up a vote,” Katz and the group responded.
Smith indicated the update had been moved on the calendar “due to scheduling conflicts with the draft view restoration ordinance.”
At the city council meeting, none of the so-called major stakeholders spoke to the city council or discussed their reactions.
Smith also indicated the staff is recommending to the council, at this time, to not create an independent business alliance and instead use the $1000 allocated toward a community seminar.
“The community seminar would cover a wide range of opportunities to enhance local community serving business in Malibu. If there is any direction to be taken…The city has invited the Malibu Chamber of Commerce to be an integral part of the workshop,” Smith wrote.
The staff is recommending a $1000 be combined with an allocation of $1500 to be allocated to the American Independent Business Alliance in order to host a community seminar titled Strength in Numbers.
AMIBA, which was suggested by Councilmember John Sibert, who is running in the upcoming city council race to retain his seat, would host a one-day community seminar in early 2012, according to Smith.
“Strength in Numbers is designed to bring together the various interests engaged in local community serving business and seeks to build a coalition to stimulate local business and the economy.
The presentation begins with the economic, civic and environmental benefits of independent community based business and some of the hidden costs accompanying reliance on absentee businesses or chain proliferation. Examples are given from successful campaigns in numerous communities to illustrate, ‘Buy Local’ campaigns, programs to nurture local entrepreneurs and polity initiatives,” Smith noted.
The city would provide meeting space for the seminar, advertising and general coordination with AMIBA. The seminar could be offered free-of-charge to participants or by fee, according to Smith.
“It is anticipated that participants will emerge with a solid understanding of keys to successful local business alliances and best practices for a range of activities and campaigns,” Smith explained.
In possibly explaining their own strength in numbers in a campaign year, the group reminded the associate planner that the city was given petitions with nearly 2000 signatures, that are described as “primarily Malibu residents.”
“In a small town the size of Malibu, with approximately 8-9000 full-time residents including their children—nearly 2000 adult signatures is enormously significant and an overwhelming proportion of the adult population. Those voices must be heard and acted upon,” Katz and the rest of the resident group cautioned.
Katz did not speak at the meeting and apparently none of this sentiment was communicated directly to the council. members.
Council members then briefly discussed the matter and unanimously agreed to approve the staff recommendation of a one-day community meeting overseen by AMIBA at a cost of $2500. The council was told the stakeholders group would meet again in February.

City Needs to Double Its Annual Spending on Road Maintenance

• Council Appears to Prioritize Other Needs over Roads

BY BILL KOENEKER

Malibu public works officials acknowledged this week at the regular Malibu City Council meeting, the city’s roadways have been underfunded for the last four years or longer.
Based on a proposed pavement management plan the city should have been spending a minimum of $600,000 per year, but has only been allocating $300,000 for annual street pavement overlay and maintenance.
Public Works Director Bob Brager told council members the “good news” is the municipality has not fallen behind yet and still ranks at about 70.
“Results showed that in order to maintain about 70 over the 15-year program period, a minimum annual funded budget of about $600,000 was required,” the staff report states.
Brager explained the city has approximately 45 centerline miles of city-owned streets with a replacement value of about $40 million.
The adopted budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 is $300,000 for street pavement projects. The plan recommends a minimum of $600,000.
A certain level of rehabilitation is required to maintain eligibility for Prop C funds and other transportation grants, according to city officials.
Brager said there are four streets that “are pretty bad” and Malibu Road should be the first street targeted because it is heavily used and in poor condition.
During public comment, Realtor Paul Grisanti said the city has been underspending on street maintenance for years. “The roads are not a sexy issue,” he said.
Ryan Embree insisted the underfunding is over a million dollars. “The $600,000 [figure] is way too low,” he said.
Council candidate Skylar Peak said he hoped the council would invest heavily in road maintenance. “I don’t think $600,000 would be enough,” he said.
The council briefly discussed how the budget should be increased, but also briefly discussed how they would have to find more money to do it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coastal Commissioners Take Quick Malibu Lagoon Field Trip

• Contentious Issue Expected to Play Major Role in Upcoming Malibu City Council Election

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

A man in a nine-foot-tall green frog costume and nearly 40 protesters were at the Malibu Lagoon on Thursday when the California Coastal Commission visited the location to hear a presentation on the controversial State Parks’ plan to drain, dredge and reconstruct the western portion of the lagoon. The lagoon stop was part of a commission field trip that included the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s Ramirez Canyon Park property, Broad Beach and a number of Malibu-area beach easements in addition to the lagoon.
The commissioners listened to a short presentation by California State Parks representative and restoration plan spokesperson Suzanne Goode and were given five minutes to walk to the first of three bridges on the beach easement slated for removal in June if the project does not encounter additional delays, before returning to their bus and heading to the next stop at Legacy Park.
Goode outlined the history of the Malibu Lagoon and discussed the 1979 restoration, which removed ball fields located in the area used today for parking, and excavated the current arrangement of channels and bridges. She reminded the commissioners that the State Parks project is “a matter involving litigation,” which restricted the commissioners’ ability to discuss the issue.
“I’m glad to have the commission here,” Goode said. “Some of you were not on the board when [the restoration and enhancement project] was approved.”
Goode stated that the 1979 restoration project “created some habitat,” and that some of the fill deposited by Caltrans during the construction of PCH in the 1930s was “removed successfully,” creating “habitat where none had existed.”
Goode stated that nutrient laden sediment has partially filled the channels. “Vegetation did not develop well, we didn’t get plants. We didn’t have benthic invertebrates. We realized early that it wasn’t working.
“What we want to do is make it a little more natural,” Goode said. “Remember, we can never go back to the way it was before, but we can make [the channels] a little more shallow, so that the channels will have a shallower gradient and will be able to have the zonation of different plants that are tolerant of different periods of inundation, so there will be more diversity.
“We cannot hope to get back to what it was before the Europeans came,” she said. “It’s too hemmed in by development.
“The channels must be reconfigured to allow scouring. The problem with the sediment is that it’s extremely high in nutrients and extremely low in oxygen,” Goode said, adding that the project will reestablish a bank on the edge of the main channel and create a single channel in place of the three that were created in 1979.
“This can’t be done with a teaspoon,” Goode said. “It needs the same equipment used to put [the fill] there.
“We will make [the channel] more natural, shallower. We do have two endangered species, the tidewater goby and the steelhead trout. It’s not expected that [they will be] affected by dewatering. Biologists will watch for nesting birds. Fish will be moved.”
Goode stressed that State Parks has found that “There’s very little circulation, very little oxygen,” in the channels of the lagoon, despite the appearance of lush vegetation and the presence of numerous bird species. “You will not see birds eating when the water is out,” Goode said.
Goode added that “[The plan is] not intended to address fecal coliform [bacteria], it’s intended to improve habitat for fish and birds. A side benefit is water quality for recreation,” she said.
Goode said that the bridge trail crosses through “sensitive habitat. There are pinch points [caused by the bridges]. The ocean has a very hard time, a right angle turn, to get in,” she said.
Goode said that the plan includes improvements to the remaining beach easement, which skirts the western side of the lagoon. “We’re going to improve it,” she said. “It will be very interesting.”
Plans call for a bird blind and education features. Goode told the commissioners that visitors “will be able to view wildlife the way they do now. Habitat will be much better, much healthier.”
Opponents of the reconstruction project did not agree.
A debate erupted between project proponent Shelley Luce, city council candidate Andy Lyon and lagoon project opponents Alden Marin and Athena Shlein after the commissioners left. “It has to be your way or not at all?” asked Shlein. “We’re angry. That’s the difference.
“Another difference is I understand the lagoon,” Luce replied.
“Look how the water is moving,” Lyon told the Malibu Surfside News. “Look at all of the kelp, how did it get this far up the channel if the water doesn’t circulate? It does circulate. It’s like a tidal bore when the breach is open.”
“It’s great that the commissioners came out here today, but I am dismayed that they only wanted to hear one side,” said project opponent Marcia Hanscom, who expressed disappointment that the commissioners were not given the time to walk down to the beach and see first hand the bridge trail and channels slated for removal.
She also expressed concerns over Goode’s presentation. “Almost 90 percent of Suzanne Goode’s data is based on old science,” Hanscom said. “Things have changed.” She added that mud birds are regularly documented feeding by the channels and raised the concern that it may take years for some species to recover from the proposed reconstruction. “Some may never come back,” she said.
Malibu City Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich has also expressed concern over the extent of the project. In a letter to Cliff Rechtschaffen, senior advisor to California Governor Jerry Brown, Conley Ulich wrote that there is “growing public concern that this project will not ‘restore’ the lagoon, not ‘protect’ wildlife, and not ‘increase,’ but decrease, public access.
“Many people with whom I have spoken believe it is a colossal waste of precious government resources,” Conley Ulich wrote.

Several More Council Hopefuls Throw Their Hats in the Ring

• Wagner Decides Not to Seek Reelection to a Second Term

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council election set for April 10 got off to an official start four weeks ago and has picked up speed as the deadline on Jan. 18, after the Malibu Surfside News goes to press, approached for pulling nominating papers and qualifying as a candidate.
The biggest news may have been when Councilmember Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner announced last week that he would not seek a second term.
It had been rumored for weeks Wagner was considering not running for a second term for financial reasons.
The surfer/businessman maintains two residences, no doubt a burden for anyone like Wagner who describes himself as a man of modest financial means.
One home is purported to be located in the hillsides outside of city limits. Another residence is located within the city. This year when he took out nomination papers, Wagner gave his address as an apartment located in the Las Flores Canyon area.
Wagner not running for a second term means both his seat and Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich’s seat, who is termed out of office are up for grabs.
Councilmember John Sibert is the only incumbent. He is seeking reelection to a second term.
More council hopefuls including two new names Bobby Heyward and Jack Utter have pulled nominating papers.
Mike Sidley pulled papers and announced he was not going to run this time.
Two other council hopefuls, Skylar Peak, who pulled nominating papers last week, and Missy Zeitsoff, who pulled papers this week, have tentatively thrown their hats into the ring.
Activist and journalist Hans Laetz pulled papers this Tuesday afternoon and explained why.
“The Malibu City Council has never adequately addressed the issue of public safety. My three issues are public safety, public safety and public safety. The city doesn’t listen to its own commissioners and the people who talk at the meetings,” he said.
Laetz suggested the commissions could be more effective if there were always two city council members present at commission meetings to hear what is being said.
He noted existing practices tend to isolate the city council from public opinion.
Laetz suggested the council should have more meetings especially to avoid putting two controversial issues on the same agenda.
“The city council should have one meeting on every issue. It is ridiculous to have people waiting for hours for their issue,” he said.
The council hopefuls as of Tuesday who were deemed qualified candidates, meaning they had returned their papers and had the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder’s office declare at least 20 of the signatures on the nomination papers valid, include activist, real estate agent and surfer Andy Lyon, former councilmember and current planning commissioner Joan House, former planning commissioner and current city council member John Sibert. and social media skateboard enthusiast Hamish Patterson.
Newcomer Utter is an attorney with offices in Orange County and Los Angeles. He gave his home phone to the city clerk, which is a landline located in Emerald Bay in Laguna Beach, according to the phone company.
He told a local media outlet he has lived with his daughter in Malibu for the last six months.
His website indicates he is also a licensed real estate broker. He is the former president of Regency Real Estate, Inc. former CEO and Chairman of the board of Nerox Energy Corporation and Tommy Lasorda Foods, Inc.
His website reports he has offered legal services for 30 years and offers a broad range of services from corporate law, securities law, business and corporate counseling to residential and commercial real estate transactions.
Skylar Peak is the son of the late local activist Dusty Peak and has taken over his father’s electrical business Peak Power.
He is probably best known as one of the surfers who tangled with the law after his physical attempts to keep the paparazzi at bay on a Point Dume cove when a local celebrity was trying to surf.
Another newcomer, Hayward is the son of Andy Hayward, a producer well-known for putting together a string of successful cartoon programs that appeared on television in the ’80s and ’90s.
The son is best know, according to web information, as producing a short-lived reality program that thatfeatured local celebrity sons.
Hayward produced the program with another son of a television producer, CBS’s CEO Leslie Moonves.
City Clerk Lisa Pope explained as the nominating papers are returned to her, they are sent off to the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder’s office for verification of the status of the voters making the nominations. They must live in the City of Malibu and must be currently registered to vote, according to the city clerk’s office.
The nominating procedure is a formal process whereupon candidates must obtain the signatures of not less than 20 Malibu registered voters “nominating” the candidate for a position on the ballot. No more than 30 signatures may be obtained.
The last date to file nomination papers for incumbents was Jan. 13, the last date for all others is Jan. 18. The filing period for write-in candidates is Feb. 13 through March 27. Voters may request vote-by-mail ballots from March 12 to April 3. The last day to register to vote is March 26.

Plans for a Permanent Skate Park Site Start to Take Shape

• City Council Poised to Spend $40,000 for Design Plans in an RFP to Be Finalized Next Week

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council is prepared to spend up to $40,000 for design services for a new skate park at Malibu Bluffs Park.
Skate park enthusiasts last week praised the council’s direction, while details of the plans were not revealed until the release of the council’s agenda packet.
The call for design services is for a permanent multi-use facility at Bluffs Park.
Last year, the city council formed a Skate Park Ad Hoc Committee to address the loss of the city’s skate park. The committee comprised of outgoing Councilmembers Jefferson Wagner and Pamela Conley Ulich, were tasked with assessing the need for a permanent or temporary skate park, identifying potential locations with favorable zoning and community acceptance and researching funding sources and costs for new park construction.
The panel assessed several options for construction of a temporary skate park. Of the sites considered, a portion of the Malibu Bluffs Park parking lot was deemed the most feasible location
“Staff is currently working on a plan to establish a temporary skate facility at the park, including negotiating an agreement with the adjacent property owner to use a portion of his land for parking,” wrote Bob Stallings, the city’s parks and recreation director, in a memo to council members.
During subsequent meetings, according to city officials, community skaters expressed interest in placing a higher priority on constructing a permanent skate park in Malibu.
“During those discussions, Michael McIntyre, representing Action Sports Design (a company specializing in skate park design), presented an idea for a permanent skate facility along the southern edge of the Malibu Bluffs Park” added Stallings. “The concept introduced was for a mixed-used skate plaza that would combine challenging skate features with pedestrian friendly pathways and landscaping amid a skate park.”
The design could include an all-wheel design that would allow BMX and rollerblade uses. There was also discussion of a traditional style permanent skate park in the southwest corner of the park to be used, according to Stallings, exclusively for skateboarding.
Last week, the council directed the staff to return with an item for the issue of a Request for Proposal or RFP for design services for a permanent skate facility at Malibu Bluffs Park.
“The proposed scope of work for the RFP will include tasks for community outreach, conceptual design, schematic design, final design development and construction documents.. the design work would include conceptual and schematic design, grading and drainage plans, community meetings to discuss needs and final construction documents and specifications,” the staff report states.
Conley Ulich and Wagner announced last week at the council meeting they had reached a tentative agreement for locating the skate park at Bluffs Park.
A contingent of skate park enthusiasts came to council chambers Monday night to laud members for the probable relocation of the city-operated Papa Jack’s skate park, which closed last year.
Wagner and Conley Ulich told other council members, who have not been privy to the negotiations, that the tentative agreement is an outgrowth of the last skate park meeting held just before Christmas.
Councilmember Lou La Monte, who acknowledged he was just now hearing the news, said, “ You know a lot more than we have. I heard about Bluffs Park. We deserve a world-class park,” he said.
Conley Ulich said the next move is to issue a RFP at the next council meeting on Jan. 23.
Wagner said, “We elected to do this as a ad hoc committee.”
“Now it is up to the city council,” said Conley Ulich.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said the old equipment is expected to be relocated to the new site and the agreement is being routed through attorneys. The municipal staff is currently looking at the cost for the move over to the Bluffs Park.
The city council several months ago unanimously voted to authorize the city manager to negotiate and sign a short-term lease/permitting agreement not to exceed $35,000 annually to relocate the city-run skate park.
The council agreed to attach a Dec. 1 2011 deadline and if no offers were finalized, the ramps would be moved to the parking lot behind City Hall. Members upped the ante from $10,000 to $35,000 after a representative, acting on behalf of Steve Soboroff, presented the council with a check for $25,000 promised for relocation costs and $2500 for a farewell party the city had recently sponsored.
Almost 10 months ago, the city received notice of termination of the skate park agreement. The new owners including Soboroff needed to get back the land for an Environmental Impact Report that is about to begin on the property for a Whole Foods anchored shopping center. Soboroff said recently a lease has been signed by the Whole Foods Company.
After further consideration, Soboroff agreed to extend the use of the property through Oct. 31, 2011 to allow more time for the city to relocate the park.
The council had heard from a number of speakers who each had their own idea of what the city should do.
Hamish Patterson, now considering a run for city council, reminded the council skateboarding is also an adult sport and that the city should consider building a world-class facility that includes new equipment rather than the old ramps.
Conley Ulich said the city had set up a fund in 2008, but nobody contributed money in anticipation of the removal of the skate park.
Municipal officials have always talked about using the parking lot at Malibu Bluffs Park.
However, planners insisted the feasibility of relocating to the site is dependent on the use of the privately owned property adjacent to the park to offset the loss of parking spaces.
The committee also considered relocating the skate park to the west end of the Zuma Beach parking lot # 12.
As a follow up, the city manager and parks officials met with the Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors Deputy Director Kerry Silverstrom to discuss the potential use of the Zuma Beach parking lot.
“The county staff was receptive to the idea and requested time to fully vet the city’s request before committing to the relocation,” Stallings noted.
Wagner said the problem in relocating the park is the difficulty in securing property. “It is not a matter of will,” Wagner said in addressing the critics at a previous meeting. “We are not sitting on our hands. And I agree the park should be for all ages.”
Other costs include moving the ramps, possible fencing, windscreens, resurfacing, access gates and office trailer and utility connections.
“Until the relocation site has been identified, the projected costs are anticipated to range from $15,000-$50,000. Once a final location is determined, staff will present a budget to the city council for approval,” Stallings concluded in a previous staff report.
For more than 12 years, the city had maintained an agreement at no cost to use vacant land that was called Papa Jack’s skate park.

Pot Smugglers Make Another Attempt to Unload at County Line in Malibu

• Illegal Boat Forays Are Becoming More Frequent

BY ANNE SOBLE

Federal authorities arrested three allegedly undocumented individuals on Sunday for attempting to smuggle marjiuana onshore in western Malibu north of Yerba Buena Road.
The latest incident occurred just two weeks after a major bust of over a ton of marijuana in the same vicinity had put federal agents and local law enforcement on alert for illegal activity off Pacific Coast Highway north of the county line.
The boat and its contraband were spotted first before dawn. A multi-agency foot search then got underway that resulted in the apprehension of the three men several hours later.
Officials indicated that the trio said they were transporting several hundred pounds of marijuana in the panga-like fishing boat and had brought the boat ashore and then scattered.
Smuggling incidents have increased in the Malibu 90265 zip code area of Ventura County in the last two years as other avenues for access to the local drug market have been closed off.

DFG Creates ‘Time-Delay’ Map for Gray Wolf on the Move

• ‘Journey’ May Now Be Nevada Bound

BY ANNE SOBLE

Malibuites interested in monitoring the travel of the Oregon gray wolf, OR 7, aka Journey, that is now wending his way through California, can follow his trail on a map on the new state Department of Fish and Game website dedicated to the wolf.
DFG put up the travel map on Friday that shows the nearly three-year-old male wolf’s approximate itinerary since he left his family pack in Oregon and headed alone across the state line.
To try to help assure the GPS-collared wolf’s safety, DFG will time-delay posting his actual location on the map.
California environmentalists heralding the return of a wolf may be disappointed to learn that Journey’s latest direction has been eastward through Lassen County toward Nevada. Since one of the animal’s primary objectives is to find a mate and establish territory, he may have decided that Nevada has more social potential.
When Journey crossed into California in late December, he is believed to be the first wolf to set foot in the state in more than 80 years.
Biologists warn that the young wolf faces numerous perils, and say that many of the tales of lone wolves striking out into unknown territory do not end happily.
The DFG map is located at: www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/wolf/docs/OR7-Map.pdf

Council to Hire Consultants for Trancas Water District Formation

• Funding Mechanism Is to Finance Long-Sought Tank and Distribution System for the Area

BY BILL KOENEKER

Moving forward with the formation of the Trancas Highlands Utility Assessment District, the Malibu City Council is poised next week to authorize the city manager to negotiate and execute an agreement with Penfield and Smith to provide consultation for the formation of such a district.
The cost of the contract is $52,500. The district would include Trancas Canyon Road, Anacapa View Drive and the surrounding gated private streets and access easements in the Trancas Highlands neighborhood, according to city officials.
The homeowners within the proposed district have deposited $86,200 with the municipality, which will be used for studies of special tax, utility engineering, bond and legal counsel for the formation of the proposed utilities undergrounding district and water distribution system.
In 2002, the city was approached by homeowners from the Trancas Highlands Association, interested in the installation of a new water distribution system and dry utility infrastructure improvements.
“Since that time, staff has worked with the homeowners to conduct preliminary engineering and feasibility studies. Recently, the THHOA secured a site for the proposed water tank and requested the city’s assistance in the formation of an assessment district,” wrote Robert DuBoux, a senior civil engineer for the city’s public works department.
Just last month, the planning commission approved a coastal permit for the construction of a public water system and dry utility infrastructure improvements in the highlands neighborhood.
Most of the area’s residents showed up in chambers to urge approval for the request. “The entire neighborhood is here,” said Scott Tallal. “This is about fire protection. We desperately need this.”
Commissioners were assured the additional water would not be growth inducing, that it was designed to “just serve the neighborhood,” including 18 new fire hydrants.
The Trancas Highlands Homeowners Association successfully sought a permit for a project, which calls 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 commission approved an application on the same property at 31537 Anacapa View Drive for the construction of a new 11,165 square foot house, reduced from the original 12,731 square foot, two-story single-family home with a basement and attached 640 square foot garage, a detached 447 square foot guest house, a motor court with fire department turnaround, swimming pool and a new 1,950 square foot access road, according to a public notice.
The HOA 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.
An additional “dry” trench is also proposed for undergrounding existing overhead electric lines and extension of utilities such as natural gas and cable.
Once underground utilities are installed, overhead lines and poles would be removed. The underground wiring is a safety factor, panelists were told.
Access to the tank would be a new 2,250-foot access road up to the building sites for the new water tank and the two new homes.
Commissioners spent some time discussing the access road and if during construction it would impact nearby neighbors.
The HOA will form the assessment district to fund preparation of final-engineering and construction plans.
The water system and utility plans would be designed in compliance with Water District 29, Los Angeles County Fire Department, City of Malibu and utility provider requirements.
Many of the homes in the highlands do not have potable water and must have water trucked to them and stored in tanks.
Most of the homes were developed with wells, which seem to have dried up for the most part in the hilly area above Broad Beach.
Homeowner Margaret Hauptman reminded commissioners that even when wells have water, if the fire comes, the power is usually off and then there is no way to run a well pump without electricity.
It has been a long-held dream of many of the residents for nearly 20 years to have piped water connected to their homes.

Unopened Access Ways Are Point of Interest During Coastal Commission Visit

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

In addition to a quick Malibu Lagoon visit and a picnic lunch at the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s Ramirez Canyon Park, California Coastal Commissioners participating in a Malibu bus trip had an opportunity to view a number of current and future Malibu beach easements.
According to a report published in December of 2011, 67 vertical access ways acquired through Commission permit actions have been opened in the six coastal California counties-60 percent of the 111 access ways acquired to date.
“In Los Angeles County, a total of 34 vertical access ways have been recorded pursuant to Coastal Commission actions since 1973. Of those 34 access ways, 13 (or 38 percent) have been constructed and opened for public use; and 21 (or 62 percent) remain yet to be opened.” All 21 of unopened Los Angeles County access ways are located within the City of Malibu, according to the report.
Commissioners caught a glimpse from their bus of many of the eight open and 21 future access way sites- including a Carbon Beach easement that has been held up by litigation for more than a decade, and blocked by a generator and a concrete wall, and Zonker-Harris, and Geffen access ways in eastern Malibu.
The commissioners had an opportunity to exit the bus and view the open Broad Beach lateral easement, while hearing first hand from CCC Ventura Office representative Steve Hudson about the issues involved in clearing, opening and maintaining public easements.
Critics have questioned why Los Angeles County and the State Parks Department has failed to open public access ways that, in some cases, have been deeded for decades.
Malibu City Councilmember Jefferson Wagner recently suggested that the state consider transferring Dan Blocker State Beach to the City of Malibu. While the Corral Beach portion of the park has been easily accessible and largely unchanged for the past 50 years, a smaller section, deeded to the public in the 1970s, but separated from the main beach by private property, remains fenced off and inaccessible, except at low tide.
Access advocates say that even the open access ways can be difficult to locate and confusing for visitors. Even longtime residents are often unaware of public easements.
“There's this view that Malibu residents hog the beach,” a Malibu beachgoer at Escondido Beach told the Malibu Surfside News. “Most of us don't live at the beach, we depend on public easements, too. I always took our kids to Zuma. I had no idea that this access was here. It's a great beach, it's great for swimming, really calm water, beautiful, and I never knew about it. How many other people have driven past 100 times and never seen the access sign or bothered to stop?”

Whales Ahoy: Grays Are Making Their Journey South

• Large Numbers of These Magnificent Behemoths Appear to Be Traveling Closer to Shore than Usual

BY KAYLA BROWN

Malibu is renowned for its “27 miles of scenic beauty,” but from late December until April it is noted for the gray whales that grace its coast. These giant mammals, measuring up to 46 feet in length and weighing as much as 40 tons, travel every year from the arctic waters of the Bering Sea to the warm bays of Baja California.
According to the American Cetacean Society, “the gray whale makes one of the longest of all mammalian migrations, averaging 10,000-14,000 miles round trip.” This lengthy journey takes around two to three months as the whales travel from the feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, to the mating and birthing lagoons in Baja California.
These massive beauties feed on small crustaceans on the oceans floor. Grays feed on organisms like amphipods and tubeworms that live in bottom sediments. The construction of a gray whale’s mouth does not consist of large sharp teeth, like the species primary marine predator, the orca.
The gray whale is categorized as a baleen mammal, which means that its ‘teeth’ are made up of a series of fingernail-like plates, called keratin, that are similar to fine hairs within the mouth. To feed, the whale dives to the bottom of the ocean floor, rolls on its side to unsettle the bottom feeders, and draws the sediment and water into its mouth. As the gray whale closes its mouth, filled with 180 fringed overlapping plates, the excess water is expelled through the baleen plates and the food is trapped on the tongue and swallowed.
Although the gray whale spends most of its time under the water, Malibu locals can be sure to spot their prominent dorsal hump back, infamous flipper tail, or notched fin gracing the surface of local coastal waters when they come to the surface to breathe.
In past years Malibu residents and visitors have taken pleasure in the Malibu Pier whale watching tours and received a first hand experience to an amazing array of Malibu sea life. This tour has been cancelled for the 2011-2012 whale watching season due to the large September swell that damaged the landing at the Malibu Pier, according to the Pier website.
Although this whale-watching opportunity is not available, alternative nearby tours are.
Island Packers, the official concessionaire for Channel Islands National Park, offers a tour that departs out of Ventura and Oxnard Harbors and travels out into the channel for a 3 1/2 hour adventure. Adult tickets are $35, seniors are $32, and children $25. More information is available at www.islandpackers.com/GrayWhales.html. Reservations are suggested.
Marina Del Rey Sportfishing also offers weekend watching tours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $25 per person.
This nature excursion ventures into Santa Monica Bay and provides passengers the chance to witness the giant gray whales in action as well as “dolphins, porpoise, seals and all sorts of marine birds,” states the Sportfishing website. FI: 310-822-3625.
For whale watchers who would rather leave the water to the whales and stay on land to view the giant grays, Point Dume State Beach and the viewing platform atop the Point Dume Reserve is reportedly one of the best places in Malibu to spot whales.
The gray whale is one of the whale species to recover from near extinction due to over hunting.
This massive mammal was given partial protection in 1937 and full protection in 1947 by the International Whaling Commission, and since that time the Pacific gray whale population has multiplied into a population of 19,000-23,000 whales, according to the American Cetacean Society.
Malibuites have the luxury of viewing migrating whales traveling right past their backyard.
As the migration period for gray whales reaches its peak, whether one travels by boat or simply sticks to the sightings by land, everyone should keep their eyes open.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More City Council Hopefuls Pull Nominating Papers

• Some Prospective Candidates Begin Campaigning at First Council Meeting of the New Year

BY BILL KOENEKER

The upcoming Malibu City Council election set for April 10 got off to an official start three weeks ago and has picked up speed as council hopefuls took their campaigns to the city council meeting Monday night.
Two other council hopefuls, Skylar Peak, who pulled nominating papers last week and Missy Zeitsoff, who pulled papers Tuesday afternoon, have tentatively thrown their hats into the ring.
Activist and surfer Andy Lyon, the only candidate who has returned nominating papers and been deemed qualified by Monday night, launched his campaign by praising council members for reaching a tentative solution to locate the skate park at Bluffs Park.
“I wish it had been here when I was a little kid,” he said.
Just minutes before another council hopeful, Hamish Patterson commented on the skate park. “I am here on behalf of the skating community. Bluffs Park is an excellent spot,” he said.
However, Lyon was not finished with the council and moved on to one of his top issues, the Malibu Lagoon.
“Bring the lagoon project back for a vote. It has never been a clear vote. The staff letter still supports the project as designed. Support it or not and decide whether to pull the letter. Make it clear,” he insisted.
Minutes later, Councilmember John Sibert, who is presumably running for a second term, agreed and announced his own proposal.
“There is so much heat and so little light on the lagoon. The city needs to take a position,” he said, in calling for the municipality to finance a $25,000 study by an independent third party preferably outside of California “to look at the verifiable truth.”
“Let’s get this in front of us. I am not a hydraulic engineer, nor marine biologist or ecologist,” Sibert said, adding there is a lot of misinformation and a third qualified party could give “a good sound evaluation of what is there in the Environmental Impact Report.”
“This is not to do another study, but look at what is there. Do it quickly. When you get new facts, you reassess your position,” he added.
Other council members agreed, but were stopped short from deliberating on the matter after City Attorney Christi Hogin told members the proposal would have to go on the agenda for council consideration.
Mayor Laura Rosenthal, Councilmembers Lou LaMonte and Pamela Conley Ulich concurred.
Later in the meeting, soon-to-be candidate Missy Zeitsoff talked about how there has been no increase in the developer fee program for the benefit of the Consolidated Fire Protection District of Los Angeles. “There should be an increase in the development fee to support the fire department,” she said.
Zeitsoff said the city should craft a program for itself for law enforcement so that new development pays a share for the required increased services.
She said the city should look at creating their own version of the Quimby fee for every new residential development. “Currently the Quimby fee is only for subdivisions. Every new home should be charged and we would have a lot for the parks,” she said.
One more candidate pulled nominating papers Tuesday afternoon, Jack Utter, according to the City Clerk’s office, as the Malibu Surfside News went to press.
By the end of Tuesday this week, Joan House, Andy Lyon, Hamish Patterson, John Sibert, Skylar Peak Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner, Jack Utter and Missy Zeitsoff had gone to the city clerk’s office to obtain the documents.
City Clerk Lisa Pope explained that as the nominating papers are returned to her, they are sent off to the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder’s office for verification of the status of the voters making the nominations. They must live in the City of Malibu and must be currently registered to vote.
Councilmember John Sibert had already filled out a notice of intent to collect campaign contributions, according to the City Clerk’s office.
The nominating procedure is a formal process in which candidates must obtain the signatures of not less than 20 Malibu registered voters “nominating” the candidate for a position on the ballot. No more than 30 signatures may be obtained.
In April, there will be three seats open. Councilmember John Sibert is running to keep his seat, as is Councilmember Jefferson Wagner. Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich is termed out of office. Her seat will be up for grabs.
The last date to file nomination papers for incumbents is Friday, Jan. 13, while the last date for all others is Jan. 18. The filing period for write-in candidates is Feb. 13 through March 27.
Voters may request vote-by-mail ballots from March 12 to April 3. The last day to register to vote is March 26.