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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Council Tackles Hot Topics on Monday

BY BILL KOENEKER

It should be another big session for the Malibu City Council when it meets next week. The Malibu Lagoon, drug rehabs, hotel plans and the Arts Task Force report are all on the city agenda
The big ticket issues on the agenda include the Malibu Lagoon, drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities, the Arts Task Force Cultural Arts Report, public easement encroachments along Busch Drive and several contracts having to do with the proposed Rancho Malibu Hotel, parking agreement, and a Memo of Understanding for the Pacific Coast Highway safety study.
As part of his campaign promise, Councilmember Lou La Monte wants the city council to authorize him and Mayor Laura Rosenthal to tackle the proliferation and clustering of drug and alcohol rehabs in the city.
With the assistance from the city’s legislative consultant the two plan “to collaborate with state, county and local legislators to address the issues.”
For many years, Malibu officials, with the assistance from its legislative consultant, have attempted to address numerous traffic, health and safety problems related to the large number of rehabs and how often the facilities are clustered.
“The city has supported legislation that would require notification to local jurisdictions in advance of permitting new facilities,” a staff report states.
“[To] ensure compliance with local zoning codes, and restrict the number of facilities permitted within individual neighborhoods.”
It is not as if other sitting councils did not try to do anything. Almost every council for at least the last decade has attempted to put some controls on the rehabs, but bitterly reported they were not able to do anything at all because their hands were tied since the state has taken away authority from local entities.
Also on tap, the city council is expected to hear from the Arts Task Force on its final report, provide direction to staff about any of the aspects of the report the council might decide to undertake immediately and formally dismiss the Arts Task Force. The report was not available at press time.
In an effort to sway the council, Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich has put on the agenda a measure for the council to oppose the Malibu Lagoon Restoration project.
Conley Ulich wants the council to oppose the lagoon proposal and take the following actions: authorize the mayor to send a letter to the governor and all relevant agencies indicating the city's opposition to the project. Then direct the city attorney to file an amicus brief regarding the municipality's opposition of the project. Have the city manager negotiate and execute an agreement with USGS to conduct an independent study of the project. Appoint two members of the city council to an ad hoc committee which will meet and collaborate with the state and affected parties to see if a mutually agreeable solution is possible before the proposed project start date of June 1, 2012 and appropriate $50,000 from the general fund undesignated reserve for legal costs.
The Administration and Finance Subcommittee will provide its recommendation on the proposed allocation during the discussion of the item, according to the staff report.
The city continues to receive numerous communications from members of the public, environmental organizations and other interested parties, both in support and opposition to the proposed project, according to a municipal report.
The report goes on to state the council has considered but not yet taken a formal position in support or opposition of the project. Conley Ulich is urging the council to oppose the project and take immediate action to notify state officials of its position and seek a mutually agreeable outcome.
If the council approves the allocation of $50,000, the money could be used to pay for the preparation of the amicus brief, which is estimated at a cost between $2500 to $5000.
The city attorney or outside legal assistance could be used and should outside legal assistance be desired, the city would prepare a request for qualifications or RFQ or request for proposal or RFP to receive proposals from qualified firms. The city council previously authorized up to $25,000 for the independent USGS study, so that cost would not be included in the new allocation being considered.
The council is also expected to take up a staff report prepared on the fourth community meeting regarding public easement encroachments along Busch Drive and direct the public works staff as deemed appropriate.

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