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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Council Candidates Forums Tackle Wide Array of Issues

• Pt. Dume Forum Draws Largest Crowd

BY BILL KOENEKER

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.

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