Malibu Surfside News

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Council Candidates Forums Tackle Wide Array of Issues

• Pt. Dume Forum Draws Largest Crowd


As is usually the case, the Point Dume city council candidates forum is usually the most well attended event on the campaign trail, which proved to be no exception this year with a standing-room-only crowd.
The biggest difference than other forums was the absence of John Sibert, who is running for re-election. He called in sick with the flu. His wife was given the opportunity to offer opening and closing remarks.
Candidate Andy Lyon, much to the amusement of the audience, was able to weave an answer about the Malibu Lagoon into almost all of the questions asked about the issues including the proposed diversification ordinance.
Malibu Lagoon he said is like the mom and pop of lagoons “and they want to bring in a Wal-Mart.”
Throughout his time on the campaign trail, Lyon has emphasized the sole importance of the lagoon as rising above all issues before the city.
He said the time frame is not very far away and the impact to the entire community, or anybody who uses Pacific Coast Highway, is immense.
After the meeting, candidate Hans Laetz said he believes Lyon, as a Realtor, has a financial interest in the outcome of the lagoon plan and had said so at a previous forum when Lyon said the real estate reps would have to offer full disclosure especially to summer renters and said, “It is a big issue for me…I’m taking the hit on this thing because of that.”
Some candidates have followed suit including Hamish Patterson, who has also urged the council take action. He said it is an interconnected web of individuals, who have control over events in Malibu and remain unchallenged by local entities especially the city. He called the city’s plan to study the lagoon documentation a stalling tactic.
Candidate Joan House told the Point Dume audience there should be more study and that there were issues, though she said she did not like how the plans call for the removal of the island and the bridges.
Council hopeful Missy Zeitsoff said she found herself on the side of Lyon and Patterson.
There have been some noticeable stumbles on the campaign trail. One happened at Point Dume
All though no candidates challenged her, council hopeful Joan House, who has served on the city council for two terms and five years on the planning commission, was apparently unaware that the headland shuttle had been already shut down when she described it as a waste of money and called on the funding to be used for other transportation.
She also called for some sort of citywide public transportation. That is currently being studied by the city and its commissions.
However, House is not the only candidate, whose assertions have gone unchallenged.
During the first forum at the Malibu Stage Company, candidate Hamish Patterson, in another one of his major riffs on accountability for city government ,called on Malibu to be audited every ten years. The city is currently audited by an independent third party every year.
Patterson has made his platform a call for greater scrutiny of the staff at the highest levels.
It was no different at Point Dume, except that he went a step further this time and said the city manager, city attorney and other department heads should be subject to a voter referendum.
Candidate Missy Zeitsoff has often said the way to get a handle on commercial growth in the Civic Center is to enact another moratorium.
City officials have repeatedly said there is no legal opportunity for the city to call for another moratorium.
However, because of the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s septic ban in the Civic Center there is a de facto building moratorium currently in place.
The apparently easiest question asked of all the candidates, who agree on the same answer, is about whether Malibu should become its own school district.
All of the candidates have said yes to the questions including at Point Dume, with some of the candidates suggesting finances are a big consideration.
Most candidates were quick to also say yes to the proposed diversification ordinance.
The exceptions were Sibert, who had previously said it would be inappropriate to give an answer since the matter came up at the city council dais and House, who said it seemed more like “government in your face.”
Another topic that had not been touched upon in previous forums was fire and disaster preparedness in Malibu.
All of the candidates are either lifelong or for the most part, long term residents who have one or two fires under their belts.
House said, “It is not a matter of if there is a fire, but rather when.” She called on a separate municipal office for overseeing the removal of hazardous brush, which becomes fuel during a wildfire.
House insisted that how a hillside homeowner fares depends upon whether the neighbors have removed brush in and around their home.
Patterson said the community needs a plan and that he has noticed when disaster strikes folks in Malibu seem to come together.
In a kind of playful jab at that comment, Lyon said folks are always talking about coming together after the disaster but they never seem to get together before disaster strikes as they should.
Candidate Hans Laetz reminded everyone the city does have a plan, but any plan is only as good as it provides for proper logistical management.
He cited an instance in which he observed during a fire, that out-of-area firefighters were not given any maps, which put them and others in jeopardy.
Candidate Skylar Peak said a community plan is important so that families know what to do when a disaster strikes.

Two Council Candidates Forums Tackle Wide Array of Issues

• MoHo Residents Air Specific Concerns


As is almost always the case, mobile home residents at the Paradise Cove candidates forum held last week sought a promise from each of the council hopefuls that they would protect rent control in the parks and would also oppose Assembly Bill 317.
The proposed legislation is described as a measure that could adversely affect residents of Malibu’s two mobile home parks.
Each of the candidates promises to do so were somewhat eclipsed by incumbent Councilmember John Sibert, who is seeking to retain his seat, when he announced he had placed the matter on the city council’s agenda for this week. The council unanimously agreed to oppose the measure at its meeting this week (see story on page 17).
By now the candidates are settling into a routine on the campaign trail. They were “performing” at the apparently last scheduled forum.
They have distinguished themselves from one another by their campaign platforms and talking points on the issues.
Hamish Patterson and Andy Lyon were the loud and funny guys, who blasted City Hall for sitting on its hands, cavorting with developers and being part of the bureaucracy of the acronymic agencies, The SMBRC, the CCC, the RWQCB and other state and federal agencies, the outsiders who were taking over Malibu.
Skylar Peak, apparently with the help of consultants, took on the demeanor of the middle-of-the-road guy who sometimes wore a suit coat and tie, appeared clean-cut and reasonable and stressed his credentials as a locals’ local. “I am the only one here, who went to all of the Malibu local schools,” he said, including a stint at Pepperdine University.
Sibert, who has the most current track record, and longtime office-holder Joan House easily became the targets because of a track record, a propensity for defending the current council and previous sitting councils and the status quo. They seemed sometimes taken aback by the comments, but almost always had a handful of facts to counter claims.
Missy Zeitsoff, though a former office holder, seemed to find herself more in league with newcomers to the political scene, Lyon and Patterson, agreeing with their assertions and often siding with their positions on the issues.
Hans Laetz could be described as the policy wonk of the candidates. He described his platforms, position papers and white papers, which were available for review on his website.
As a journalist, he knows about sound bytes for public consumption, and it will be up to the voter to decide if they share his approach to the issues.

Lengthy City of Malibu Diversification Ordinance Process Gets Underway

• Preserve Malibu Group’s Supporters Claim Victory and Celebrate the Community’s “New Dawn’


The Malibu City Council on Monday directed the planning staff to draft a preliminary retail diversification ordinance. On a 4-to-one vote, Councilmember Lou La Monte in opposition, council members provided a skeletal outline for initiation of the development of an ordinance limited to two commercial areas of the city—the Civic Center and the Trancas Center.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said, “These are very general parameters, and the direction may change,” but proponents of a diversification ordinance expressed public jubilation that the process was going to begin.
Since the direction provided is a starting point and where the process leads will depend on citizen and business owner participation, City Attorney Christi Hogin added, “All is to be studied. There is no hard and fast way.”
The birthing of the ordinance preparation process was lengthy and arduous. After hearing 80 speakers, council members began deliberation at about midnight. For nearly three hours, they had listened to multiple variations on a number of basic issues from the proponents and the opponents of a municipal diversification measure.
Where proponents want balance and more local day-to-day resident needs met with affordable options, instead of high-end clothing stores, opponents of regulation said residents dictate retail composition by using their wallets to create the balance they want.
Mayor Laura Rosenthal reminded speakers, “We need to be a town for new [more affluent] residents as well,” as she professed delight that her favorite retail cosmetics chain has opened in Malibu.
Proponents discussed the role of small, independent businesses in creating community character, but opponents said chains offer inventory and price. Opponents added that they don’t have small independent applicants seeking space in Malibu centers even when they offer discounted rents.
Proponents contend too many businesses are geared toward visitors and the large local student population than full-time residents. Opponents cite a “trickle-down” theory that chains pay the way for smaller businesses, even though anchors and large chains often pay less per square foot than small stores because they are taking more space and can sign 20-year-or-longer leases.
At its most basic, the argument is one of political philosophy—faith in the free enterprise system and the belief that “the government that governs least governs best,” disregarding that controls that range from the tax system to health and safety regulations impact every sector of the economy, and no enterprise is “free” of these laws.
Though his center was ultimately exempted from initial review, Zan Marquis, the owner of Point Dume Village, said, “Anything that makes the permitting process more difficult will hurt the local business community.” He predicted a dramatic increase in vacancies if a diversification ordinance is implemented as “there is not a large reservoir of prospective tenants looking at Malibu.”
Hamish Patterson, a candidate for one of the three seats in the April 10 city council race, said residents are “just asking for a little fairness. Commercial owners want to shut the public out of the process.” Using the example of putting a Subway franchise, even though locally owned, next door to the independent Point Pizza, Peterson said, “This is an unfair practice” toward the small business.
Another council candidate, Missy Zeitsoff said government “traditionally listens to those with a financial stake” in public policy. She said, “It’s now time to listen to the citizens who have no financial gain” on public policy issues.
Business owner Alex Hakim countered that business success is really about “survival of the fittest.” He said, “There’s a Peter Pan syndrome in Malibu, residents are scared to grow up.”
But ordinance activist Kerry Beth Daly explained, “Developers use Malibu’s assets—culture, reputation and infrastructure” to make money and they should have “to serve our community and respect our culture.”
A theme that resonated among critics of an ordinance proccess was echoed by Councilmember Lou La Monte, who referred to the Preserve Malibu Group that spearheaded the effort as a “small group from western Malibu,” and implied it was not representative of the community as a whole, particularly the eastern end, where he said there are “no balance issues.”
PMG members repeatedly cited the over a thousand signatures on their petition, as well as letters to city that were signed by more than 400 people.
But former city council member Sharon Barovsky made a rare public statement to the effect that the city council needs to hear from “the whole community and [should hold] more public hearings,” which the council has indicated will be done. She said council members “hear from just five or six people” and described the PMG petition as “a kiss-your-mother” petition that is meaningless.
Barovsky added there’s no law that can force a landlord to take a certain tenant or renew a lease, and warned that a diversification law is fraught with “pitfalls.”
PMG activist Jae Flora Katz later singled out Barovsky directly and said, “This is a real petition—not a kiss-your-mother petition, with specifics that 1200 people want to see enacted to encourage a local business balance.”
Despite all the late night sound and fury, what PMG seeks is not a business revolution, but an evolutionary transition to meeting local needs that grandfathers all current leases and only enacts controls as leases expire.
PMG did not get all of the specifics it seeks, but the council’s loosely worded directions to staff create a framework for ongoing discussion and the potential to work toward many of the group’s goals.
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, whose own effort at a retail formula ordinance was sidestepped procedurally earlier in the meeting, told diversification proponents via a telephone connection that more effort is required, and she expressed the “hope voters on April 10 will tell the Malibu City Council where [the voters] are coming from.”
On the directions to staff, Councilmember John Sibert said, “I hate to see too much government” and indicated he would like the “PMG energy put into a ‘buy local’ campaign,” The lone incumbent running for reelection then paused and said, “If I get defeated on this issue, that’s OK (then almost sotto voce added, “It might even be good”)
Sibert said the “council shouldn’t decide details tonight” because of the late hour, with which his colleagues generally concurred as long as planning staff had what is necessary to start the process.
Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski outlined the steps of ordinance process, which could take several months or longer. Associate Planner Joseph Smith, who was praised by both sides for his work on the diversification issue, is about to begin a month-long paternity leave, but it was indicated that preliminary groundwork could continue in his absence
Although there is still a long road ahead, PMG activist John Mazza told the Malibu Surfside News Tuesday, “Just like cityhood, a dedicated group of citizens fought to preserve the unique Malibu lifestyle and won. I am very proud of the many people who are working to make sure our city keeps its soul.”
PMG ranks were emailed, “You signed, you stood, you spoke, you preserved Malibu! Sustaining small businesses, protecting citizens’ retail needs, planning the future of our center of town and preserving Malibu just made a gigantic step forward!”
In April, the city planning department will begin a new planning clearance process that requires information about each new business seeking to open and those seeking major remodels that require permits
On Saturday, May 12, the American Independent Business Alliance will offer a free daylong “Strength in Numbers” program with emphasis on a “buy local” campaign in the Malibu City Council Chambers.

LASD Security Hold on Rodas Death Info Prevents Coroner Comment

• Representatives Discuss Department Misinformation at Malibu City Council Meeting


Finding Carlos Ivan Rodas’ body covered with blood outside Guido’s restaurant on Sunday, March 18, was a community tragedy that spiraled into local confusion and apprehension as the result of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department statements about the death of the seemingly healthy 32-year-old kitchen employee that appeared to contradict themselves as soon as they were issued.
Correcting first that Rodas was not the victim of a shooting, then that Rodas had not experienced a brutal beating by multiple assailants, the LASD now indicates the early suppositions were made without examining his body.
Last week, the LASD put a security hold on the county coroner’s office, preventing it from commenting on the case, even as the department announced Rodas had died from upper respiratory disease and no “criminal conduct” was involved.
However, as recently as Tuesday, Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter told the Malibu Surfside News, “There is still a security hold on the case [and requests are to go to] the LASD for information involving this case.”
LASD spokesperson Steve Whitmore told The News, “There is nothing nefarious about the hold. There is a lot of misinformation and we want to get it under control.” But it is now over a week later, and the gag on the coroner’s office is still in effect.
Following the initial rush of LASD reinterpretations, the City of Malibu issued a statement about the case, expressing disappointment with the “confusing and contradictory messages given to the media and public about this tragedy [because] the city’s goal is to get the most accurate and up to date information before disseminating it to the community.”
At this week’s city council meeting, the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station commander, Capt. Joe Stephen, told council members, “I apologize if there was perceived misinformation or fear in the Malibu community.” He said the coroner is currently conducting tests on “microscopic tissue [and LASD has] been assured they are going to expedite the tests.”
Homicide Lt. Eddie Hernandez, named by some outside media as the source of quotes triggering “murder in Malibu headlines,” also spoke Monday night.
Hernandez said investigations are “by nature complex [and] fluid,” then indicated he had not looked at the body when issuing the first statements attributed to him. Hernandez stated when he arrived, “The body was covered by a tablecloth [from Guido’s],” which he did not lift or pull back. An email from The News to the LASD to verify whether LASD protocol or coroner’s office directives expressly prohibit this action was not answered before the newspaper went to press. The newspaper’s inquiry about the propriety of conjecture being released to the media has also not received a reply.
The homicide detective said his misperceptions about possible assailants were influenced by the “acute observations” of a witness who was described as a schoolteacher whose family member was in a similar incident.
Rodas’ actual physical condition was not clarified until the next morning when a preliminary coroner visual exam determined there were “no external injuries.”
City council members did not ask the two men any questions about procedure or the ongoing investigation. Councilmember John Sibert, after referring to what he called the “‘Chicken Little’ response on the Internet,” said, “I wish we could get more info out quickly.”
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health has publicly declared that it has not found evidence of a public health or safety hazard as it awaits the DOC test results and no further action is expected until then.
Until the coroner’s lab results are in, local residents appear to be relying on the statement in the municipal press release, “The city will continue to collaborate closely with the Sheriff’s Department on communication to the public until the final medical report is issued that will separate the facts from fiction in this very confusing, yet tragic, case.”

Seven Candidates Tackle Malibu Lagoon and Other Issues

2012 Malibu City Council Campaign—Part Three

All of the Malibu City Council candidates on the April 10 ballot were asked to respond to a questionnaire from the Malibu Surfside News.
The third series of questions and answers are published in this week’s issue, and the rest of the questions will be published in the April 5 issue.
The questionnaire is an effort to provide prospective voters with an opportunity to compare all of the candidates’ responses simultaneously.
The responses appear in alphabetical order for easy cross reference. Aspiring city council members were asked to be succinct, but were not restricted to a set word limit.


How would you rate local government transparency? Ability to communicate? What would you change?

JOAN HOUSE: Federal & state laws govern transparency. Communication is the key to successful government. Both are operating now.

HANS LAETZ: I very much resent all the locked doors and ‘employees only’ areas. City Hall belongs to us, and we should be able to walk down a hallway without escort, as if we are interlopers. The public should be able to read official city emails to and from developers—right now those emails are ordered to be deleted by the city attorney. The city council and commission process is broken. Public comment is not analyzed before decisions are made. Commissions hide behind Roberts Rule of Order, which is a great way to handle high school debate teams but a lousy way to listen to residents, answer their questions, and allow them to have sufficient input. I have an entire position paper on my web page explaining how I would fix a deaf City Hall.

ANDY LYON: Not great. Everything that goes on there should be accessible to the public with the available technology. Anytime there is a meeting with any staff it should be in a room that can be monitored and watched by the public. Not everyone is able to take off work to attend these daytime meetings but should be able to watch live. I would love to also see a skype access to council meetings so that the public can comment from home.
HAMISH PATTERSON: Opaque! They communicate just enough with the public to placate it and have the appearance of interaction. They work for us and technology is cheap, the first thing that can be done to include the public is to allow public comments via Skype or similar platforms, second wire the entire city hall with cameras and sound, and stream all that occurs there live, so that anybody, at anytime, anywhere can see and hear what is occurring in their city hall. The public has the right to know who their staff is meeting with and what they are meeting about. A live streaming city hall is the future; it is time to remove the barriers between the public and its hired staff.

SKYLAR PEAK: Local government transparency can be improved and more importantly communication must be improved. I think some residents are frustrated they cannot find information easily online. Many questions have complex answers and some are not always presented in laymen’s terms. The Freedom of Information Act helps. However, I want city government to be more proactive in informing residents about issues of importance and for people to continue to feel welcomed to their city hall as they are now. We need more people to participate in the process.

JOHN SIBERT: Transparency is very important in local government, as it is closest to the citizenry. There is a continuing tug-of-war between transparency and individuals’ privacy as well as the need to negotiate contracts and inter-governmental disputes. I try to err on the side of transparency.

MISSY ZEITSOFF: I sense an attempt to eliminate public input and citizen decision-making whenever there is an option to do so. The fact that public channels are not broadcasting very important public meetings is one example. The city commissions have little power, and are limited in the ability to put items on their own agenda. The efforts to communicate, educate and invite for participation and observation, are limited by the staff. I am worried that the decision-makers, the council, don’t receive adequate or accurate information from staff departments.

What should the city’s position be on the Malibu Lagoon construction project? Do you favor the project, why? If you don’t, what action should be taken by opponents?

HOUSE: I am waiting until a qualified scientist, agreed on by both sides, makes a recommendation on the project. State Parks would have been better served had they communicated with the community about the project to begin with. Even though it is State Parks’ land and State Parks’ money and the City has no say, I am very upset that they plan to remove the bridge which permits people to be totally engaged in the lagoon environment.

LAETZ: I do not favor the State Parks project because it was imposed on us, without the city council stepping up to protect the valid concerns of the minority of wildlife advocates, surfers and nearby residents. We never had a hearing or a study here to see if this was as bad as the opponents feel.
But the opponents had their day before the Bay Commission, State Parks board, the Coastal Commission and the governor. They had all of their arguments examined in court before a judge whom they picked. They lost every single one of their legal, scientific and factual arguments, every single one of them. They have an appeal filed, but construction will start before it is heard, and a stay does not look likely this time. The minority lost. The rest of us in Malibu cannot afford the political capital or the legal expense to once again make our city look like a bunch of whiney, emotional losers on the wrong side of the facts, science and law. We are stuck with it because the city council bailed out on its role four years ago.
The Trancas fiasco is a textbook case how NOT to handle an entitlement. City staff, the planning commission, and the council bent over backwards to give the developer every single variance, waiver and exception he asked for. It fell to a private citizen (me) acting alone to demand that such rudimentary functions as lagoon preservation and PCH widening for a turn lane, bike lane and pedestrian path be added.

LYON: I am beyond opposed to the project. It is a huge waste of taxpayer bond money and employs the same theories as the first attempt at this nearly 30 years ago only on a bigger scale. Now that it is finally looking natural there they want to rip it up again. I don’t like the fact that the sewer’s main problem is dispersing water and the lagoon project will allow it to hold more water and that there are too many common denominator players involved. The city should oppose this project even though as they say it isn’t their project. I am so tired of the ‘it’s out of our hands’ answer…. As mayor of Malibu you have clout …USE IT!
Stand up to these guys. What is the point of being a city if we are going to get walked over?

PATTERSON: The Lagoon project is ill conceived, poorly planned, and environmentally unsound in principle as well as the theoretical execution. There are too many unknowns and our own city has said as much, and if they do not know what is going on with the lagoon project, who does? The lagoon project is just a stepping-stone to sewer development, and various entities filling their bank accounts. The fact that this project will occur in June and last five months, which is the busiest, most congested time of year in Malibu, should raise alarm bells.
The lagoon project is a terrible idea and if it is allowed to precede this community will be forever impacted in a negative way. The project is a scam and we as a community need to wake up to the players involved and realize they have neither Malibu nor the lagoon’s best interests at heart, it is all about money, money which should be invested in fixing the perpetually leaking Tapia water treatment plant. Save the lagoon, save Malibu, bulldoze the lagoon, bulldoze Malibu, it is that simple.

PEAK: The proposed Malibu Lagoon Restoration Project has too many questions surrounding it for me to support it in its current state. Opponents should offer a better feasible solution than the proposed project and not go after well intentioned agencies like Heal the Bay that have done so many positive things to help clean up the watershed and oceans between Point Dume and Palos Verdes.

SIBERT: There has been so much misinformation promulgated about this project and so many mutually exclusive scientific statements made that I requested that the city hire an independent reviewer to review all of the published studies and claims on both sides of the issue and return to the council and citizens, before the election, with a summary that separates fact from fiction. A number of potential reviewers have been submitted to the city manager, but to date, all have been rejected by one side or the other. We may be very close to an acceptable candidate, but time is running out. At the time I originally saw this project, all the evidence was on the side of the project. On reviewing the final plans, a number of serious questions have arisen and will be addressed in a firm third letter to State Parks from the city regarding the impact of this project. As a scientist, I believe in making decisions based on facts and, when I get new facts, I reassess my position. I believe that responsible decisions should be made on the basis of verifiable evidence, not tendentious tracts and anecdotes.
ZEITSOFF: June 1st is approaching for the start of the Lagoon Destruction. The 7+ million dollar project is going to destroy wildlife, cause traffic, dust, interruption of tourism and business profits. The city should join the lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission, on appeal. The city should consider a lawsuit against the Ca. State Parks, leader of the project. Why is it that we are sued by so many, but we never use the options of mediation or litigation when our city is threatened?

Do you think there is a need for special legislation, such as a diversification ordinance, to promote the well-being of small, independent, locally owned businesses? Who would oversee any such program if implemented?

HOUSE: This is an intriguing idea that I support looking into. Government should tread lightly when it gets involved in regulating the private sector. We must study this carefully lest we face disastrous unintended consequences.

LAETZ: No. City government is not supposed to grant special favors to one class of commercial citizens over another. But our city has already stormed into the marketplace, by going into the high-end retail business at the Lumberyard. This has forced up rents (although the recession has been a moderating factor). Malibu needs to take small, measured steps to ensure that its residents can get the commercial services we need. That’s what the diversification ordinance would do, and I am proud to support this small zoning matter. Like every city, Malibu already broadly regulates what type of businesses locate here. I think the commercial landowners have been unduly defensive as Preserve Malibu seeks small concessions. Our zoning officials already handle programs like this.

LYON: I am in support of what Preserve Malibu has put together and would hope that they would have a committee to help oversee along with the council.

PATTERSON: Let us focus on occupying the commercial spaces we have. The issue of mom and pop retail versus chain stores is a trick to get the community tacitly supporting more commercial development. The real problem is that mom and pop retailers are being forced to compete with chain-store retailers and their deep pockets, which have the ability to subsidize their retail outlets in Malibu. Malibu is not a retail-shopping destination, never has, and hopefully never will be; our infrastructure cannot handle it, as the PCH and the canyons are all choke points that prevent any retail entity that does not cater directly to the community from being financially feasible without subsidies from outside sources. It is a sad state of affairs that a community cannot support the retail stores that serve its needs because a few well financed property owners are using Malibu’s name to lease retail space simply so that chain store retailers can use Malibu’s cache in their marketing campaigns.

PEAK: Yes. Yes.

SIBERT: I believe that we need to do what we can to sustain community- serving businesses. That certainly should include a citizen-driven buy local campaign. This issue of potential diversification regulation or ordinance has united a large number of Malibu citizens. I hope that will be the nucleus for such a grass-roots effort. It may be important to produce a diversification ordinance, which could be enforced administratively or by the planning commission. However, that comes before the council on March 26, and I will listen to the arguments from both sides. It would be inappropriate for me take a position prior to that public hearing.

ZEITSOFF: I will support a diversification ordinance to balance local business, both service and retail, with some chain commercial. I would explore the possibility of a new — Independent Business— Chamber of Commerce. I would consider the creation of a Commerce and Finance Oversight City Commission. And, I am interested in the possibility of an Economic Element for our General Plan.

Publisher’s Notebook

• Bearly Legal Malibu Opinion •


The runaway media flap over the out-of-state killing of a mountain lion by the California Fish and Game Commission chair has resulted in a newfound surge of energy in the local wildlife protection community. The realization of the solidarity among wildlife activists throughout the state is expected to encourage them to become more aggressive in the public policymaking process that relates to California’s wildlife resources.
These activists are now taking a closer look at all sport hunting practices and are expected to try to make some changes in the laws now on the books that will be vociferously opposed by the ever declining—based on license and stamp purchases—sport hunting population.
The image of the hardy and independent country dweller hoisting a firearm over a shoulder and heading out with the trusty household canine companion to acquire the family’s winter meat supply is a carryover from times past. The notion of the lone human against the elements has gone high-tech. Today’s hunting can involve aircraft, GPS devices, a dozen radio-collared dogs and half as many handlers, and a “hunter” who often has paid a hefty fee to wear the title but usually does little more than pull the trigger on a frightened and cornered animal verging on collapse from exhaustion.
In this context, a measure was introduced in the California State Legislature last week that would prohibit hunters from using dogs to pursue bears and bobcats. A number of other states where bear hunting is legal do not allow the use of dogs, including Colorado, Montana, Oregon and Washington, according to the measure’s sponsors.
Two Democratic state senators, Ted Lieu of Torrance and Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, spearheaded the bill that has the support of the Humane Society of the United States and already has major state and national hunting lobbies scrambling to kill the measure.
SB 1221’s supporters contend that hound hunting in the digital age is inhumane and is no longer fair sport. Pitting the hunter’s skills in a match of wits with the wilderness has given way to mechanized slaughter that requires less skill than the typical carnival game.
Hunting proponents fear that this is another step in the process of the incremental banning of trophy hunting by one species and one context at a time, as it should be.
As part of this evolutionary change, the current effort to change the name of the state Department of Fish and Game to the Department of Fish and Wildlife is a reflection of the critical need to reflect the public mindset and protect species being threatened by habitat loss, poaching, rodenticides, and human fear and ignorance.
AB 2402 proposes this renaming and is currently up for review in the California State Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. The suggested name change reflects the values of a majority of Malibuites, as well as the values of most residents throughout the state, that wildlife is not just a moving target.

Surfing Coalition Plans ‘Hands Across Lagoon’

The Surfers Coalition to Save Our Malibu Lagoon is sponsoring “Hands Across the Lagoon” on Saturday, April 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Malibu Lagoon State Park. The chain hand holding begins at 2 p.m.
“The purpose is to draw attention nationally and locally to the impending disaster and to persuade Governor Jerry Brown to put a stay on the 66 bulldozers scheduled to begin rolling June 1 (Malibu’s heaviest traffic time of the year!) and to implement an extremely less invasive and extremely less costly method of maintaining the lagoon such as oxygenation, which has already been investigated with good results,” a press release states.
Organizers are urging folks to bring a picnic lunch, signs, costumes and kids.
Activists who are scheduled to speak include Daryl Hannah; Pamela Anderson; Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers; Robert Downey Jr.; Alan Sarlo; and more.
Attendees will make an effort to hold hands forming a human chain around the lagoon “to protect it and the thousands of wild birds and animals, who will have just given birth to their young (some of whom are on the protected and endangered species list), and will be killed if the bulldozers roll.
“To protect and preserve the beautiful sustainable, not overly developed way of life here in Malibu,” the press release states.
Organizers say the entire community is encouraged to attend. For more information contact 310-985-0068.

Malibu Screenwriter and Political Activist Left Lasting Legacy


The newly remodeled Malibu Library is scheduled to open its doors on April 22. In anticipation of the event, the Malibu Surfside News is taking a look at some of the amazingly diverse writers who have made Malibu their home and shaped its literary landscape.
Philip Dunne made Malibu his home for 45 years. Longtime Malibu residents remember Dunne as a gentle man, with a wickedly sharp sense of humor, who was passionately committed to the environment and to preserving Malibu.
He is best remembered for his screenplays for “How Green Was My Valley,” “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,” “The Robe,” “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” “Stanley and Livingstone,” “Forever Amber,” “Johnny Apollo,” and “Last of the Mohicans.”
Dunne received two Academy Award nominations, the Writers Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his screenwriting, but he also wrote numerous syndicated newspaper articles, contributed articles and short stories to The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly, wrote speeches for the presidential campaigns of Adlai E. Stevenson and John F. Kennedy, penned two plays, and wrote a biography of his father and his own autobiography.
Dunne was also an important political activist. He was co-founder of the Writers Guild and vice-president of its successor, the Writers Guild of America, from 1938 to 1940 and, together with William Wyler and John Huston, he helped organize the fight to oppose the Hollywood Blacklist in the 1940s and 1950s.
“The blacklist these witch-hunters forced on our industry remains to this day the dominant feature of Hollywood’s political history,” Dunne wrote in 1979.
Dunne, who died in 1992, chronicled his life in an autobiography entitled “Take Two: A Life in Movies and Politics,” published in 1980.
“I tell this story mainly to emphasize my total lack of preparedness for the career in which, somewhat to my surprise, I eventually found myself,” he wrote.
Philip Dunne was born on Feb. 11, 1908 in New York City. His father was Chicago syndicated columnist Finley Peter Dunne. His mother was Margaret Ives Abbott Dunne, daughter of journalist and novelist Mary Ives Abbott. She was one of the first women golfers and won the first gold medal for women’s golf at the second Olympics in Paris 1900.
Dunne had an extraordinary childhood. His father’s creation, Mr. Dooley, a Chicago Irish barkeeper with a thick brogue and canny observations on politics and the human condition, who appeared in cartoon form and more than 700 “sketches” in the syndicated papers and later anthologized in a series of best selling books, was so popular and so accurate in assessing the mood of the nation that President Theodore Roosevelt reportedly had them read each week at the White House cabinet meetings. Famous “Dooleyisms” include the advice to “trust everybody, but cut the cards.”
“[My father] expressed a life-long empathy with society’s unfortunates,” Dunne wrote. “[There is] a leavening of melancholy in my father’s work, of black Irish humor and occasionally stark tragedy.”
Finley Dunne and Roosevelt became friends and the family moved in influential literary and political circles.
Dunne attended Harvard, graduating in 1929, the year of the great stock market crash. Unable to find work in New York, he headed to Hollywood and landed a job as a script reader. By 1932 he had written his first screenplay. In 1937 he signed with 20th Century Fox, where he would continue to write for 25 years.
Dunne chronicles many Hollywood adventures—and misadventures—in his autobiography, included renting an apartment from Harpo Marx, having drinks with Hemingway and offending British humorist P.G. Wodehouse.
“In 1937 I was chairman of the Screenwriters Guild’s membership committee—in effect, chief organizer for the union at a time when it was fighting desperately not only for recognition but for it's very survival. A competing organization called the Screen Playwrights took the field against us and was immediately recognized by the producers. We in the Guild considered it a company union, and I said as much in a letter to Wodehouse, who had been publicized as one of its members.
“My letter was intemperate, to say the least. In effect, I asked Wodehouse if he realized that he was consorting with scabs and scalawags in an organization whose sole malign purpose was to break our virtuous guild.”
Wodehouse showed the letter to the officers of the Playwrights. Fireworks resulted.
The letter was published. Producer Darrel Zanuck, the mogul of 20th Century-Fox, called Dunne the following morning demanding that Dunne leave the studio. The writer stood his ground. “My father had taught me that if I ever needed a grievance redressed, I should always go to the top,” Dunne wrote. He requested “an audience” with Zanuck, was “ushered into that long, long office, painted Zanuck green” and decorated with the trophies of many African safaris, “and found myself facing the great man in person. I remember thinking how small he looked sitting behind that great big desk. I suppose that I had expected a giant.”
Dunne reported that at the end of the interview, Zanuck said, “Forget it. Go back to work.”
In 1938, Dunne met Amanda Duff, a young actress who had just signed with 20th Century-Fox. Thier first date was at King Gillette Ranch, now part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
“It had taken me all of two weeks from the time we started going out together to summon up enough nerve to ask the question,” Dunne wrote.
In July of 1939 the couple were flown by a friend to Nevada, where “they were married by a justice of the peace in Mark Twain’s famous Comstock Lode ghost town.”
“We found the J.P. in the bar next to the courthouse, so it isn’t too surprising that Amanda promised to endow me with all her worldly goods, while I promised to love, honor and obey her, which I have,” Dunne wrote.
By 1940, Dunne had written six pictures in three years for Twentieth. His seventh assignment came “as an afterthought” on Zanuck’s part. “He sent me a studio-written script based on Richard Llewellyn’s best-seller ‘How Green Was My Valley,’” Dunne wrote. He describes the draft he received as “long, turgid and ugly.”
Dunne, discarding the screenplay in favor of the book, crafted his own script for what many critics regard as one of the greatest films ever made. It was shot at what is now Malibu Creek State Park, the Santa Monica Mountains doubling as Welsh coal-mining country.
The Dunnes both volunteered during WW II. Amanda was with the Red Cross. From 1942 to 1945, Philip Dunne served as chief of production for the Motion Picture Bureau, U.S. Office of War Information, Overseas Branch.
In 1947, Dunne and his wife purchased a bluff top property on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and began building the home where they would raise their three daughters and live for the rest of their lives.
“Their house was kind of an ad hoc center for liberal Hollywood,” screenwriter and novelist David Freeman, a longtime friend, remembered in an article that appeared in the L.A. Times shortly before Dunne’s death. “Political meetings were held there for both local issues and big national issues—the war in Vietnam, for instance. It’s a way of Hollywood life that we just don’t have now, and I don’t think it will come again.”
“Reading from left to right, I have been called, in and out of print, a crypto-fascist, social-fascist, quack, rightist, reactionary, undercover FBI agent, pseudo-liberal, bleeding heart liberal, leftist, socialist, radical, Marxist, fellow traveler, comsymp, Communist stooge, Communist, and radical Jew actor, this last in 1939 in Adolph Hitler’s journalistic outlet in Los Angeles, the Weckruf und Beobachter, whose reporter clearly failed to do his homework: I am not now and have never been an actor,” Dunne wrote.
In addition to his numerous screenwriting credits, Dunne went on to direct several films. He died at his Malibu home in 1992. He was 84.
“I have few private regrets. I have good reason to be proud of my family and the fact that none of us has emerged from the normal rough-and-tumble of family life with visible scars.
“I cherish the friendships Amanda and I have formed over the years and which bear flowers in autumn as they did in spring and summer….I have done the best I could, and all that is left for me to say is “‘Print it-and that’s a wrap,’” Dunne wrote.

SMMUSD Superintendent Discusses Details of Fundraising Reform


The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Superintendent's Advisory Committee met Monday might in Malibu at Webster Elementary School to discuss details of a districtwide fundraising campaign. The anticipated issue on the agenda was the revelation of what Sandra Lyon and her staff consider “quality programs” of educational need, which she intends to equalize among SMMUSD schools.
The superintendent allowed members to view a preliminary breakdown of “quality programs” currently funded by all PTAs. Under this model, distributed to the members of the advisory committee, school programs are put into tiered categories and the top tiered programs will be funded first. Top tiered programs in Santa Monica, which are slated to receive the money from Title 1 Funding (Federal Government funds distributed public schools in need), include instructional aids, Spanish reading support, English reading support, and bilingual community liaisons. At this point, no Title 1 money funds any of the above programs in Malibu.
To date, the Malibu PTAs have funded their own instructional aids and reading assistants, as well as computer labs and computer leases, art history instruction, science labs equipment and maintenance, P.E. assistants, homework clubs, field trips, gardening programs, dance, music and more. Under the new fundraising model, all of these programs will be theoretically funded by the SMMUSD Education Foundation’s collective fundraising effort.
Opponents of the new fundraising model claim that the burden of raising enough money to continue to support the same programs in the two cities falls directly on the shoulders of Malibu residents and their donations to the PTA, because the Malibu PTA raises substantially more money than the Santa Monica PTA. They contend that Malibu residents can expect to receive between 27 cents and 45 cents on every dollar they donate to the PTA under the superintendent’s model, while the remaining assets are funneled into Santa Monica to fund programs at schools where fundraising is low. If there are not enough funds to pay for all the existing programs in Malibu and equal ones in Santa Monica, the programs the district determines are less important will be dropped.
These opponents also say that if sufficient money is not raised to support top tier and underlying tiered programs in Santa Monica as well as in Malibu, Malibu will cease to enjoy the benefits of voluntary parent donations and their children’s education will suffer.
Furthermore, upon the fundraising models commencement, possibly as early as next school year, many Malibu parents say they will be unwilling to donate money for school programs that do not benefit children in Malibu but leave the community and are “managed” by the Education Foundation, an outside organization, presenting to date, no external audit and no tangible accountability to the Malibu community.
Exacerbating the climate of distrust is the recent resignation under protest of Joan Chu Reese from the Financial Oversight Committee (FOC), claiming the silencing of non-Board centric points of view.
Initial comments from some members of the FOC last year to SMMUSD Board had questioned the rush and method of the implementation of district-wide fundraising and cited the expectation that money which SSMUSD expects to collect may be dramatically overstated and there likely would not be enough funds to maintain the educational programs currently in place.
During the meeting, an advisory committee member indicated that a PTA could still pay for an outside service directly, circumventing the district, as long as that provider is short term and carries their own liability insurance, to which the superintendent responded that the “spirit of the policy was not to create loopholes” However, opponents of the district model claim that if the district is going to force participation from the Malibu community, then they will be forced to explore all available avenues to ensure Malibu education experiences as little harm as possible.
Another attendee at Monday’s advisory board meeting angrily stated when asked about the current proposals under discussion, “Malibu citizens vehemently opposed this districtwide fundraising as categorically unfair to the children and citizens of Malibu, but it was passed nonetheless by a school board who could care less whether Malibu kids lost the special programs so near and dear to the folks in Malibu, because they saw Malibu as their cash cow, here to improve Santa Monica schools at Malibu kids’ expense.”

Council Opposes AB 317 Rent Plan


The Malibu City Council this week unanimously agreed to oppose Assembly Bill 317 described as legislation that could adversely affect residents of Malibu’s two mobile home parks.
The council authorized the mayor to send a letter to state Senator Fran Pavley and other interested parties urging them to oppose the measure, which has passed the Assembly and now goes on to the state Senate.
“This is an important issue, not only for Malibu, but the entire state,” said Councilmember John Sibert, who put the item on the council agenda. “This is a bad way to do this. We need to oppose this.”
AB 317 was introduced by Assemblymember Charles Calderon. The legislation would exempt a mobile home from any rent control ordinances if the mobile home is not the owner’s sole residence, according to a municipal staff report.
The city’s Mobilehome Rent Control regulations were enacted to control space rents charged to owners in Malibu’s two mobile home parks.
The code allows for surcharges to be imposed on space rents for mobile homes that are not the owner’s primary residence or units that are sublet, but AB 317 would remove protections for a mobile homeowner who owns or has ownership interest in another residence, the staff report states.
In other action, the city council unanimously approved a graywater ordinance.
The council had previously asked the staff to bring back proposed legislation with regulations that staff thought appropriate for Malibu.
Building Official Craig George explained the staff believed there are areas where graywater discharge is not appropriate such as on the beachfront and ocean bluffs.
Graywater is untreated wastewater excluding toilet, dishwasher, and kitchen sink wastewater, which has not been contaminated by toilet discharge, has not been affected by infectious, contaminated or unhealthy bodily waters and does not present a threat from contamination.
George said the staff is recommending that the issuance of a permit be required, though the state does not.
“Because of the constituents of graywater, it needs to be managed,” added George, who said other reasons include the varied terrain and topography of Malibu and other locations where it is not appropriate, such as the beachfront.
The permit would be free and would apply for both clothes washer systems and for simple and complex systems.
George also indicated the city will require all graywater drainage piping to be black in color to distinguish between graywater and recycled/reclaimed water.
The regulations would be crafted to prohibit graywater systems on the beach and that graywater systems must be sited more than 250 feet from any impaired body of water.
A 100-foot setback from any bluff top would also be required to prevent erosion.
According to research, total graywater within a residence may account for as much as 60 percent of the total indoor water consumption.
About 54 percent of water consumption in Southern California is attributable to residential use.
Because of a crowded agenda, council members had little to say.
Mayor Laura Rosenthal made the enactment of a graywater ordinance one of her campaign promises, but did not reflect on it at the meeting.

Longtime Residents Remember Malibu Yacht Club Activities with Affection


In the late 1940s an entrepreneur who advertised himself as Commodore Edward Turner sought backers to participate in financing the building of a yacht harbor designed by Cliff May at the site of the Malibu Lagoon.
Conversely, the founders of the Malibu Yacht Club (MYC) had no use for a grand marina.
The Sabot sailors, who incorporated in 1948, were satisfied to store their small boats inside a chain link fence on the sand east of the Malibu Pier between the new Casa Malibu Motel and the beer bar called “The Cottage.” Are there still some souvenir beer mugs from “The Cottage” out there?
The tiny, rustic clubhouse, built by members, included showers, toilets, a kitchen and a bar.
The small MYC was admitted to the Southern California Yachting Association a year later and was then able to compete in other yacht club races. It was also invited to join the North American Yacht Racing Union, and the Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs.
At the time, the Malibu Catamaran Club - affectionately called the “Cat Club” by locals-was sailing multi-hull boats off the beach, and soon joined with the Malibu Yacht Club.
One of the new members, a Topanga Canyon carpenter, Warren Seaman, remembering outriggers he had seen in Hawaii during WW II, designed a variation and named it the Malibu Outrigger. Seaman served as commodore of the MYC three times.
As they grew, his sons Roy and Gary learned and helped their father build many boats.
They continued working in the sailing and surfing business world. Roy took his custom designed Tornado to the final tryouts for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Now a grandfather, he is still an avid Malibu surfer.
In time, many members built their own Malibu Outrigger canoes from Seaman’s plans. Those early crafts were light, constructed with plywood, very fast, and could be launched through the surf.
Their unique construction drew so much sailing world interest that a six-page spread touting it appeared in the June 1950 Popular Mechanics Magazine. The Malibu Yacht Club was prominently mentioned as its home base.
Another article, in a 1963 Sports Illustrated Magazine with Sandy Kofax on the cover, included a picture of the Malibu Outrigger and the connection to the MYC.
Membership grew to approximately 100, but was limited because of space to store the boats within the fence on the sand.
The club sailed every weekend from February to March each year. Spring and summer involved racing, which meant trailering the boats to Balboa, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Lake Havasu, etc.
Entire families participated. Wives crewed for husbands (handling the ropes, watching the position of competing boats, and quickly throwing their weight where needed— sometimes out over the water—for smooth maneuvers). The children played on the beach, and then crewed for their dads when they were old enough. In its more than 20 years of activity, lasting friendships began for those sail-andsurf-world teenagers.
The Norm and Jinx Marchment family joined early. She crewed for him in races as far away as Australia.
In 1966 he was chosen commodore to represent the MYC in the sailing community. He says that anyone who did not walk fast enough in the opposite direction was named commodore.
Alice and John Abel and their children Paula and John participated from 1955. Abel was treasurer on the board of directors, then commodore in 1961.
William Buck led the club in 1960 and 1964. He, his wife Ethel, son Bill, and daughter Trudy enjoyed many years as members since 1954. Bill Jr. built his own 12-foot outrigger when he was only 15 years old. Trudy married widower Norm Marchment many years later.
Trudy reminisced about the great parties, too. After a day of racing members often headed to the Buck home for a spaghetti dinner, but the annual authentic Hawaiian luau was the most eagerly awaited.
The men dug a deep pit in the sand where an entire pig was roasted all day. There was poi, Mai Tais and sodas, exotic fruits and abundant roast pork. Sometimes Polynesian and Samoan dancers entertained.
“We danced, sang, and played games, guitars and bongos,” she says.
Many celebrities of the day dropped by the MYC’s beach space on weekends, including Keenan Wynn and his motorcycle, William Windom, Steve McQueen, Gardener MacKay, Robert Fortier (he built his own 18-foot and 26-foot Malibu Outriggers), Dyan Canon, Chad Evert and Warren Miller.
The club moved in the early 1960s to a still-empty beach space across from PC Greens Market (some old-timers believe it was the site of the Malibu Potteries).
The new location featured a grand 55-foot flagpole made by Norm Marchment from part of a Canadian mine sweeper that he and Matt Kivlin—a MYC member and well-known surfer—brought there from a Wilmington marine salvage yard. Sadly, the flagpole disappeared when the club had to move for the last time—to the Trancas-Broad Beach area.
Thanks to John Abel, Trudy Buck-Marchment and Norm Marchment for details of “the heyday” of the MYC.
Although the days of 60 boats racing beyond the surf on weekends at the Malibu and Paradise Cove piers have passed, that robust and creative era stands on its own in Malibu’s unique history.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Malibu West Forum Focuses Attention on Trancas Fields Issue

• ‘Surprise’ Question Not Given to Candidates in Advance Asked about Their Positions on Measure M


The Malibu West Swim Club was the scene this week on Monday night for another candidates’ forum conducted much like the forums so far.
Candidates were given the questions before except for one question, which was not sent to the candidates in advance and were told they had two minutes to make an opening statement.
Most questions had a two-minute limit for answers except for one, which candidates were given a one minute time limit.
It was probably the one question-and answer-that almost everybody in the room wanted to hear and arguably the most important for Malibu West. The council hopefuls were asked about Trancas Field.
The question was: The City of Malibu has been involved for over 20 years in legal disputes with a property owner of a 30 acre parcel on Trancas, across from Tapia up to La Gloria. The property owner is claiming the right to complete a subdivision, which was begun but never completed prior to Malibu cityhood. If the city loses that lawsuit, the owner would be able to put at most 19 homes on that property instead of six. Many of us in Western Malibu are aware and concerned about the fact that a prior city council offered a settlement, which included the right to build 32 condominiums, a right which the property owner would not have even if they won the lawsuit, according to the California Subdivision Map Act. This right to build condominiums would have been granted if not for a successful lawsuit against the City of Malibu by Broad Beach [homeowners]. Will you commit to the people of Western Malibu that you will never allow condominiums on Trancas Field?
John Sibert, who is seeking reelection, commenting on the longest running litigation in the city’s history, said it is a very complex issues and not the sort of matter that lends itself to an easy simple answer. He did say he was opposed to condos on the property.
Joan House, who was on the council during some of the litigation and settlement talks, told the audience anybody who wanted to be on the council should be careful about a full fledged endorsement of any action since they would have to vote on the matter later and an answer now would not give a fair hearing to all of the parties and the council member would have recuse themselves.
Newer candidates were not so careful in their answers. Skylar Peak promised he would do everything possible to stop condos on Trancas Field.
He said it would be a compromise with developers since it would be giving them more than entitled.
Hamish Patterson implied that there were such strong differences between the candidates that the line was already drawn between those who would cave to developers and himself.
He said it was easy for the voters, if they wanted development, then they already knew who to vote for.
Patterson said Malibu was close to turning into an Orange County city.
Andy Lyon said instead of answering questions chosen for the candidates he would continue to talk about the Malibu Lagoon restoration project that he said was fast approaching.
After the forum, council hopeful Hans Laetz was asked by the Malibu Surfside News his position. “Joan is correct. You can't state a position and still give a fair hearing. You would have to recuse yourself.”
On the matter of condos. “Firstly no secret deals. That is what the city council tried to do when it reached a settlement on the condos. I would want to look at it. What if the footprint is smaller than the maximum number of houses allowed?” he said.
The second question dealt with protecting mom and pop businesses that serve residents rather than tourists. The gist of the question was: Will you support creating legislation in Malibu that enables the planning commission to reject at some threshold the addition of new tourist-serving shops in order to ensure that shopping centers in Malibu cannot gradually phase out resident-serving businesses?
Missy Zeitsoff said her track record on the first city council was the best answer for her. She noted the council imposed a commercial building moratorium. Zeitsoff said the city should be monitoring how any new project relates to the city’s aging infrastructure.
Peak said he would stand up for the mom and pops and he recognized why some folks did not feel comfortable with some of the chains or high-priced stores entering Malibu’s market place.
Laetz said part of his campaign advertising is centered around the photo of the Sephora opening in Malibu. He said promoting Malibu as a shoppers’ destination is wrong.
“What the Malibu Preserve group wants is so little,” he said.
Sibert, who will vote on a choice of options to preserve small businesses at next week’s city council meeting talked rather about a shop local approach before any other mechanism would work.
Other questions had to do with whether candidates would support enforcement of a dark sky policy in Western Malibu and if city council members should stay faithful to the General Plan rather “than compromising it in favor of receiving benefits from developers.”
The question that was not given in advance to council hopefuls had to do with asking candidates’ understanding of what Measure M would have done in 2003, whether they supported it and if they thought that kind of deal was in Malibu’s best interest today.

Chamber and Realtors Host Candidates

• Discussion Focuses on Retail and Commercial Development Issues


Council candidates had a chance to mix it up a little bit more at last week’s candidates’ forum sponsored by the Malibu Chamber of Commerce and Malibu Association of Realtors.
Chamber members wanted to know: Some have proposed ordinances which would increase permitting requirements, costs and time to open up a new business in Malibu. If you are in favor of such legislation (formula retail or diversification ordinances), please explain how that would improve the viability of businesses in our community. B. If you are not in favor of such legislation, please outline the proactive steps the city should take to improve diversity and support local diversification ordinance.
Last year several stores would not have made it, according to Joan House. “This is another way to have government in your face,” she said.
A related question was: “With historical high commercial vacancy rates, and distressing levels of business failures in Malibu, what legislative actions would you take as a council member to improve the business climate in our community?
Hamish Patterson said Malibu is a residential community. “Are we going to support floating businesses?” He cited as an example placing a burger joint at the end of the pier rather than a seafood restaurant as an example of a business failure based on what he considered bad judgment.
He said there is a bottleneck of traffic near the Civic Center shopping centers. “Our town is grid lock. Let’s take care of PCH first,” he said.
Patterson said diversification may be needed but the community could not have gotten an Anawalt Lumber and Hardware store.
Missy Zeitsoff said a long time ago during the formation of the General Plan the city looked at the possibility of including an economic element in the General Plan. “The city is a commercial owner. It might be useful to form a Commercial and Financing Commission. It is not fair when talking about chains [including] locally owned franchises,” she said. “If there is a high commercial vacancy rate,that means we don’t need more.”
Andy Lyon said the Cross Creek shopping area “Is not for us. The Colony is going to be Balboa. Are you ready?” he asked.
House referring to elements of the diversification ordinance proposed by some and being considered at next week’s city council meeting said, “I don’t know if a Conditional Use Permit is an attractive way to do business. It is an interesting problem.” Under a retail formula ordinance, House said, “Anawalt and Planet Blue would be chains.”
John Sibert said he has spent most of his life as a free market advocate. “Government is lousy at running business. One council member worried about the city becoming a landlord [when the Chili Cook-Off site was purchased], but that was for debt service, It is not the city’s job to fill commercial space. You guys at the chamber should be doing that. We should not be taking the lead,” John Sibert said he has spent most of his life as a free market advocate. “Government is lousy at running business. One council member worried about the city becoming a landlord [when the Chili Cook-Off site was purchased], but that was for debt service, It is not the city’s job to fill commercial space. You guys at the chamber should be doing that. We should not be taking the lead,” he said.
Another question concerned water district issues: There are 34 water tanks in the Malibu coastal area served by [Waterworks] District 29. Approximately 16 of those tanks do not hold enough water to satisfy the fire department standard for fire flow. Homes served by these tanks may not be able to expand by more than 10 percent and homes destroyed by any means may not be able to rebuild. How would you solve district 29 and the fire department problems?
“That is the biggest problem we have,” answered Hans Laetz. “District 29 is a disaster. There is no local control. We can’t even get answers about how bad they are. At some point there is going to be a catastrophe,” he said.
Missy Zeitsoff said part of the problem is the district is not doing capitol improvements. “It is unbelievable how much we are paying for water than others outside the district,” she said.
Chamber head Don Schmitz elaborated on the questions saying studies have shown it would take $250 million with about $150 million in required improvements in Malibu. “There is a change of policy instituted outside of the city that has created a de facto [building] moratorium,” he added about the district requiring new users to pay for costly upgrades to the system
Skylar Peak said the fire department action stems from a lawsuit by a homeowner in Acton. “The fire department got sued,” he said. “It is not fair for us to pay for all the litigation.”
Patterson noted there is a giant infrastructure problem in the entire country. “Maybe it is time to take back the water district. We need to get down and dirty on this issue,” he said.
Schmitz told the candidates the fire department has said no to any kind of personal water systems including a proposed 150,000 gallon storage system [for a hillside residential home]. “They still said no unless the homeowner contributed to the current water system,” he said.
Sibert noted Malibu has some of the most expensive water in Southern California. “I would love the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District to take it over. Hamish is right. We have to bite the bullet. But you cannot just take it over,” Sibert said.
House said, “We are talking about public safety. We passed approval on Trancas Highlands for a water tank. Malibu has always been expensive. Water is going up for everybody,” she said.
Lyon said it is noticeable about the constant repairs of the water pipes up and down the highway. “Pepperdine has huge tanks. Maybe they can get involved. The city council should work on it.”
Somewhat akin to a game show host, Schmitz wanted answers to the next question “in no more than 15 seconds.”
“Since cityhood we have had on-site water storage mitigation. Should we go back to on-site water storage?”
Lyon answered, “yes.” Laetz said he wanted to know why the firefighters have done so and would say yes only if the firefighters say it is safe. House said “on-site water storage is perfect. Patterson said, “Yes. Absolutely. But most of these houses are outside city limits.”
Peak said, “The issue of source should not be a factor. “Yes,” Sibert, who quipped, “The guy imposing this is retiring in a couple of weeks.”
“Maybe the city could take part.” Zeitsoff said, “I don’t see it as a problem. There has to be a good reason [for the decision] I don’t have the expertise,” she said.
The fourth question was asked: “Surrounding communities have hired third party consultants to analyze their permitting process for new homes and businesses, to make recommendations to the council on how to improve and streamline the process. Would you support such a study to improve the ability of new businesses and homeowners to establish themselves in Malibu?
Patterson said there has been too much use of consultants. “It is influence. If there is not the right people down there. Money talks,” he said. To which the audience murmured its disapproval.
Later, Patterson said he was not talking about corruption, but about how money could buy extra attorneys, consultants, permit expediters to move the process along.
“I’m not into streamlining. Maybe the planning process needs to be slower,” Patterson said.
Schmitz had interrupted Patterson to say, “The chamber is about good business. I have the highest regard for the planning department. There is no stench of corruption in the planning department,” he said.
House said streamlining should be looked at. “I am a big believer in using zoning codes to control building. The Ralph’s center would be a quarter size under the city codes. There has only been several commercial projects [approved by the city], a storage facility and office buildings,” she said.
Sibert said it is totally false about [comments made] about the staff. The problem we have is communication. But we have the California Coastal Commission. They are in favor of streamlining. I echo Joan. There is a potential of 800,000 square feet [of build out] that has been there all along. We took 130,000 square feet of potential commercial out. There is no evidence the city is leading development,” he said.
Laetz said he wanted to refer to how the Lumberyard shopping center has changed the character on the entire Civic Center area
Laetz said it was House and Sibert that gave “every exemption and waiver” to the Trancas market remodeling project. “Streamlining is one thing, but not loopholes,” he said.
The next question asked, “What do you see as the top three issues facing Malibu homeowners with respect to property values and property rights? If elected would you commit to making the tough decisions on these issues even if that decision is not the popular one?
Zietsoff said, “I am tough. It won’t be a problem. The infrastructure problems are the most difficult. Road repairs are not done. The CHP is back, but policing is an issue, but now we are spending money on studies for wastewater injection,” she said.
Laetz said schools and water had already been talked about. “I am an intervener in the SCE lawsuit. We are going to win $12 million. Now it is about how to spend it. I want it for studying the poles in the Santa Monica Mountains—an inspection.”
Sibert said PCH is a disaster. “The schools are really, really important. The permitting process makes it possible. I did my own permitting. The process worked well. I did not use experts. I have to agree with Hans on the poles. He did a great job.”
Lyon said the septic ban completely effects the surrounding properties saying Malibu has been made a hostage of the septic ban.
“The other thing is the Broad Beach GHAD. It will go on for 20 years. Even John [Sibert] said it is ‘spitting in the wind.’ And there will be an assessment district.”
House defended her vote on the Trancas market redevelopment saying the decisions were all unanimous. “I will come back with what the variances were. I have a serious problem with the water board. Package treatment plant in Civic Center?’”
Peak said the city needs to keep an eye out for the mobile home parks because of upcoming legislation attempting to abolish rent control. He said two other important issues for homeowners are wastewater and view, which are also important.

First Reports on Death in Malibu Village Center Create Media Maelstrom


In the haste to be first with a news story, media outlets’ initial releases often will call for updates as new facts emerge, but recent coverage of a death in the Malibu Village shopping center is an example of some “news” that required multiple revisions.
The first news reports late Sunday night indicated that a man, a kitchen employee at Guido’s restaurant, “was shot” when he went outside to the trash dumpsters behind the shopping center.
According to officials at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Coroner’s Office, initial stories may have been based on witness reports that a dead man lying face down in what both agencies described as a tremendous amount of blood must have been “shot.”
That the notion of a “murder in Malibu” might take on a life of its own is not surprising given the preoccupation of out-of-area media with anything remotely connected to the community.
However, this supposition was never validated by the first responders, the paramedics, who, when they determined that the man would not benefit from emergency medical procedures, covered the body, and left determination of the cause of death to the county coroner’s office.
When a preliminary examination of the body on Monday found no bullet wound, someone who may not have been privy to the ongoing case, appeared to have given media information that the substantial facial injuries and quantity of lost blood were representative of the results of a beating by multiple assailants.
Conflicting witness reports were still being followed up by homicide detectives, but LASD spokesperson Steve Whitmore and Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter both told the Malibu Surfside News on Tuesday that those actually working on the case knew there was no indication of blunt force trauma.
Whitmore said, “The dynamics of the investigatory process can result in ongoing changes, which is why we try to stress that no information will be made available until the completion of the full autopsy by the coroner’s office.”
Winter, the lead coroner’s office spokesperson, said an autopsy was scheduled Wednesday morning to try to determine how “the Hispanic male in his thirties died.” Any results will be posted by The News at
Winter added, “Unless we find something to the contrary, it could be possible that the man fell or had a seizure and the cause of death was not homicide [death at the hands of another human].” He indicated that the large amount of blood might be consistent with someone hitting their head.
Winter said the name of the restaurant employee circulating in the community would not be verified until the department has completed notification of his family.

Seven Candidates Address More Major Community Issues

2012 Malibu City Council Campaign—Part Two

All of the Malibu City Council candidates on the April 10 ballot were asked to respond to a questionnaire from the Malibu Surfside News.
The second series of questions and answers are published in this week’s issue, and the rest of the questions will be published in the March 29 and April 5 issues.
The questionnaire is an effort to provide prospective voters with an opportunity to compare all of the candidates’ responses simultaneously.
The responses appear in alphabetical order for easy cross reference. Aspiring city council members were asked to be succinct, but were not restricted to a set word limit.


What is your assessment of the current Malibu City Council? Please be specific and comment on each member of the council.

JOAN HOUSE: I think they have accomplished some very good things, like adding the CHP police presence on PCH and grappling with the view ordinance. Accomplishment on Council requires majority approval; individuals cannot accomplish anything on their own.

HANS LAETZ: Altogether: Better than past city councils – but that’s a low bar. Willing to at least start the ball rolling on PCH safety changes. But way off track on the Civic Center sewers issue (see below).
Pamela Conley Ulich has done some amazing things, such as her work for the library. Elsewhere, she has been zany—such as calling for retractable air bags on PCH to protect bicyclists (she was serious) and an ice rink at Zuma Beach.
Jefferson Wagner deserves great credit for listening, leading and sticking up against the status quo politics. I only ran for office when I heard he was not standing for re-election.
John Sibert: John is a nice fellow. But he says ‘trust me’ to enforce the General Plan using science, then hands out variances and exemptions for commercial development at Trancas.
La Monte: Smart, hardnosed, willing to incur the wrath of people by speaking the truth on such controversies as the view ordinance and the motto flap.
Rosenthal: Seems to be on the ball.
ANDY LYON: All I can say about that is what I hear from clients that talk about a nightmare process. I used to watch them more when it was televised and it was very exciting TV.

HAMISH PATTERSON: Some, not all, are gutless and covertly promoting the agendas of commercial property developers at the expense of the community. I prefer not to comment on specific council members as that serves no purpose but cause hard feelings and possibly alienate myself from councils that I might possibly serve with. I will say though that Pamela was a voice of reason and asked tough questions and demanded answers when other council members waffled, and I will leave it at that.

SKYLAR PEAK: Ulich—Her 8 years of service and commitment to Malibu have improved our community, especially with the state-of-the-art library opening in April.
Sibert—A wealth of knowledge.
Wagner—Very fair, practical, and to the point.
La Monte—His diligent efforts and commitment to public safety have helped bring back the CHP to PCH.
Rosenthal—Always has an open ear for residents and is a great voice and representative for our community.

JOHN SIBERT: I believe it is inappropriate for me to rate individual members of the city council, I continue to serve with them and we will agree on some issues and not agree on others. It is important that civil discourse be maintained and that we recognize that reasonable people can disagree reasonably.

MISSY ZEITSOFF: Decline to state

What were the city council’s three best decisions during the last two years? Why?

HOUSE: The California Highway Patrol (CHP) returning to traffic enforcement on PCH, reopening of Rambla Pacifica, moving forward with Legacy and Trancas parks, water tank for Trancas Highlands, and the library.

LAETZ: (1) Applying for grants to begin the process of creating a PCH safety and capacity plan. Twenty years too late, and not nearly enough, but it’s a start.
(2) Pressuring L.A. County on the Water District’s inefficiencies and lack of capital planning.
(3) The Malibu Lagoon: the city council resisted the pressure of a small bandwagon of lagoon activists, led by an outside agitator acting to raise money, to argue against a project that has already been held by the vast majority of surfing and ocean organizations, other cities in the SM Bay, the State Parks board, the Coastal Commission, the governor and the courts to be the right thing to do.

LYON: No reply


PEAK: 1. Building the library, it needed improvement and will serve our community well.
2. Completing the dog park (although it was quite expensive)
3. Bringing back Joyce to the planning department.

SIBERT: Since I’ve been on the council they are: constructing Legacy Park and its clean water system; opening Rambla Pacifica to ensure the safety of the residents; and opening the Trancas and Las Flores parks, which provide recreational facilities for citizens on both the East and West ends of Malibu.

ZEITSOFF: I can’t think of any! Did they make any decisions?

What were the three worst decisions by the city council during the last two years? What action would you have recommended?

HOUSE: Moving the dais onto the stage and the bright lights. I would have left it the way it was.

LAETZ: (1) Hands down, the approval of the variances, waivers and loopholes to allow the oversized Trancas shopping center enlargement to just rip our General Plan to shreds. By that 5-0 vote, the city council showed itself unable to “just say no” to developers seeking to wedge in too much commercial development. I shudder to think what the current power structure will give away at the Civic Center. The General Plan reflects the will of the people, and city staff cannot be allowed to hand out exemptions and exceptions to developers like candy at Halloween. Remember this vote when the first pedestrian gets run over at Trancas.
(2) The City Hall project. Although the city negotiated a bargain purchase, the citizens were never presented with the matter in a “which would you rather buy” format. We were never asked if it was a good idea to buy City Hall versus paving streets, or versus buying a park, or versus buying our water system. No one ever asked us about the big picture.
(3) Creating the expectation in the city that a magic wand could be waved and everyone would have their views back—poof—without fuss, muss or taxpayer expense. The city council was not clear where they stood on the eventual outcome. It is clear that retroactively applying a property right 20 years back is a great idea … until you look at the price tag.

LYON: Sending a letter of support for the lagoon project to the CCC without putting it before the city council and discussing it with the public. And then proposing to spend $25k to get out of taking a stance before the election.
Allowing the Broad Beach GHAD without fully understanding the ramifications of approving something before an EIR is done and knowing that the EIR can be ignored because it is a GHAD. I would have made them do an EIR first.

PATTERSON: Spending twenty-five thousand to get an expert opinion about the lagoon project, what a cowardly stance to make about such an important issue. It was a stall tactic in an election season, and the community had to pay, and will continue to pay for this kind of hubris. I would have voted my disapproval of the project.
Not voting immediately to enact the retail diversification ordinance of Malibu.
The Broad Beach GHAD. I would have not supported it and made the state pay up for the project, as it is their sand they want to replenish, and I would have explored alternative options such as offshore reefs. The GHAD was the wrong way to go, and needs to be reexamined.
Approving the sustainable communities planning grant and incentives program grant application, because it is unclear what our city manager would be applying for in the grant application, and since we have to match the funds and are financially stopped as a city, vagueness is a no go and should always be voted down where city money is concerned.

PEAK: 1. Not purchasing the property at Heathercliff and PCH.
Parcels like this don’t come on the market for cheap all too often. It was a large parcel and purchasing it for a new park would have well served our community.
2. Writing a letter in support of the Lagoon Project without reaching out to the residents in the areas closest to the Lagoon
3. Not spending money to maintain the roads. Roads are one of the city’s important assets and will only cost us more money in the future.

SIBERT: I do not believe there were any seriously bad decisions, but I think we could have handled several issues better, particularly the process of enacting a view ordinance and determining our response to the Malibu Lagoon project.

ZEITSOFF: The council failed to move aggressively against the lagoon and sewer projects. I would have used the city’s powers, both political and legal, to block both of the state mandated harmful proposals. I would have had a better result on the 30 million dollar Legacy Park. I would have passed the View Restoration Ordinance, requested by the voters in 2008.

What is your position on the RWQCB determination that central Malibu requires construction of a sewer facility? Is this the answer to pollution problems at Surfrider Beach?

HOUSE: Regional and State Waterboards have mandated we meet the State and Federal Clean Water Act by 1215. Even though there is scientific evidence that the On Site Wastewater Systems (OWTS) can treat the water effectively, the city has to continue with the scientific study and the EIR for a working solution with the RWQCB. In the end, the people in the assessment district will vote the project up or down. Before that vote, the city must provide all information, such as cost, etc., to the affected residents so they can make an informed decision. But in the end, it will be their decision to make.

LAETZ: The city’s plan is to inject 760,550 tons of water per year under pressure into an active earthquake fault that the USGS says is likely to unleash a 6.5 quake within 30 years. Not acceptable. The only solution for Surfrider Beach is to eliminate every drop of Tapia water, and Civic Center “butterfly” reclaimed water, from the lagoon watershed. This can be done. We can use advanced onsite treatment systems in Malibu, and collect all the clean water. This surplus water can be piped away from both Tapia and Malibu, during daylight using solar power, out of the Malibu Creek basin. It’s complex, and I offer details at my website, sewerheads.html. But this plan relies on political support from outside agencies, and we will lose any credibility if we keep fighting them on the lagoon issue.

LYON: The USGS report, which is the most current science, says that it ISN’T the surrounding septics causing the problems. The source is traced to the birds.
Since it isn’t the existing septics why is a sewer going to be built to handle new commercial development?
Why isn’t the city going to challenge the MOU with the new findings? Who are they looking out for? And at the same time all the surrounding residential are stuck in this pointless septic ban. OSWTS are state of the art now and safer than a sewer line that can cut loose and dump raw sewage into the creek.
Malibu needs to fight Tapia as well to make sure that they send ALL the water back to the Valley.
Why is their treatment facility closer to Malibu than to the Valley?
PATTERSON: We need to fight tooth and nail to keep the sewers out of Malibu, the problems at Surfrider are a watershed issue and for us to be blamed for issues of the entire watershed is ridiculous. It is time for Malibu to stop taking the blame for a problem that includes a number of large communities outside the city that all contribute to the ills of Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach.

PEAK: I do not think this determination is fair to residents living in the MOU or all of Malibu for that matter. I have concerns about the proposed project regarding the size of the system, costs, and how much wastewater can effectively be pumped into the Civic Center soil from a centralized system without severely impacting the environment.
While it may be easier to monitor one system as compared to a hundred, one large system that fails will have far worse repercussions for Malibu. While centralized wastewater may improve the lagoon and Surfrider, there is no guarantee, and the most recent scientific study outlines that existing OSWTS are not the presumed cause of pollution in the immediate area. Moving forward, our community needs to be educated and involved in this project; plans, test results, and costs, need to be clearly communicated. Malibu’s commitment to the environment should require all existing OSWTS or water tables to be evaluated, monitored, and maintained.

SIBERT: I do not believe that the RWQCB septic prohibition was based on sound science—it was based on the persistent dogma that Malibu is polluting the ocean and the lagoon because of septic systems. I testified against this at public hearings and in negotiations with the Regional and State Boards. The board imposed it anyway, though we did gain some leeway to reduce the impact. The alternative is for the RWQCB to enforce the prohibition as was done in Los Osos in the ’80s. The litigation that followed that and the battle between the city and the State and Regional Boards went on for twenty years, and the homeowners took disastrous hits on their property values. That was finally settled in the favor of the Water Board and resulted in a $135 million sewer project. I will continue to fight for a rational solution for this imposed “solution” to a perceived problem, but if we go the way of Los Osos, property values will plummet in 2015! This is not a solution to bacterial pollution at Surfrider, but bacteria were only one of the six reasons given for imposing the prohibition. So while the USGS study takes that off the table, it does not deal with the other issues the Water Board raised, which include nitrogen, ground water elevation and commercial system failures.

ZEITSOFF: There is no human fecal bacteria causing Civic Center or ocean pollution. The USGS study put the blame on birds. We need state of the art septics for every home, and a series of small package plants for condos and commercial clusters. Why is the state ordering an expensive, hazardous centralized sewer system? Must be to accommodate huge commercial growth, subsidized by surrounding homeowner phases. Again, the city needs spine and needs to challenge State Water Control Board. Too little, too late?

What is your assessment of Legacy Park?

HOUSE: Legacy Park is a jewel in the Malibu crown. The choice of 128,000 sq. ft. shopping center or a park is an easy decision. Also, it has won many awards, including the Civil Engineers “best project in California” award.

LAETZ: Legacy Park is an abject failure both as a park and a water treatment site. It does not get any substantial use at all, and our city has a deficit of 11 athletic fields. Too many activities are being crammed in to Bluffs Park and the high school because of past decisions by a city council to kowtow to a developer and ban park activities from our central park. As for all the “pay to win” awards it is getting from civil engineering vanity magazines, it is doubtful that those agencies know that Malibu residents were misled as to what the scope and impact of what the water cleaning component would be. Look at the empty parking places. But, we are stuck with it. As to the water treatment component, it could have been built as a real park and still cleansed the runoff. It sucked every penny from the community of donors and the city treasury. And it was vastly oversold as to what it would do.

LYON: The weed park! Why is it already purple piped to take water from the proposed sewer? A colossal waste of money that the city has to keep justifying to us is so great. Seems the ones that are most pleased with it are the ones that put it there and the rest of us scratch our heads.

PATTERSON: A dysfunctional use of city money and resources for a storm water-retaining basin disguised as a park, that is purple piped to disperse wastewater once the sewer system the community will not be able to vote on is in place. Legacy Park is not a park at all, but rather one piece of urban development scheme that intends to transform the Civic Center into a shopping mall.

PEAK: I would rather see the park the way it is now than another shopping center. I understand it doesn’t look like anything special from the highway, however I appreciate that native plants were used and more pleased with the storm water treatment as far as the positive environmental impact. And the trees maturing in 20 years will only make it look better.

SIBERT: Legacy Park is an outstanding achievement, which will become a wonderful parkland resource for the center of Malibu for decades to come. It not only took 130,000 sq. ft. of potential commercial development out of the Civic Center, it cleans the runoff from over 300 acres and reuses the water for landscaping. This significantly reduces the demand on the precious imported water. The connection to the new library, which opens on April 22, will make this center of town a go-to destination for thousands of residents as well as visitors.

ZEITSOFF: Legacy Park, as a stormwater plant, is useful. But, $25 million for the land was a price driven up by the naive Malibu Bay Company negotiations. Add more millions, and we have a park in which to do nothing, and a giant fire hazard in the center of town. Some of the homeless appreciate it.