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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lagoon Critic Lambasts Doublespeak


• Says Council Member Appears to Modify Pre-Election Stance

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Andy Lyon, an outspoken critic of the State Parks Plan to drain, dredge and reconstruct the Malibu Lagoon, had harsh words for newly re-elected City Councilmember John Sibert during public comment at Monday’s city council meeting.
Lyon showed video footage of Sibert, who sits on the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, explaining to the commission why the council voted 5-0 to oppose the controversial project at its last meeting.
In the video, Sibert explains the Malibu City Council’s vote to oppose the lagoon project.
“The vote was based upon monitoring issues and the fiduciary responsibility of the local elected through the city,” Sibert told the SMBRC in the video.
“We have been through, as some of you know more than others, long years, of litigation over clean water issues and that was critical to us. That was the reason this was voted on, that’s the reason the city council voted, at least four of them, voted the way they did. And there was no support for funds for the Wetlands Defense Fund, or any of those sorts of things. It was specifically related to potential liability for the city, and that’s what the vote was taken on, and that’s what the letter will say. So, all of the other things you’ve heard are not necessarily true.
“One of the problems I had with this,” Sibert continued, “And I am going to say something about it at our next city council meeting—I should have mentioned it that night—is the demonization of your opponents because you disagree with them is the wrong way to do business and we need to get away from that demonization. So, I just want to get that on the record.”
“Sibert spoke for four of the council members as to the reason why they voted and what they voted for,” Lyon told the city council. “This is a new day and everyone is going to be watching.”
“There might be legal issues here with regard to speaking for the council. Nevertheless, he really changes his tune in front of this group, as opposed to the overflow crowd that stayed past midnight to finally hear the vote at City Hall,” Lyon told the Malibu Surfside News after the meeting.
“He also failed to mention to the SMBRC that the city would be filing an amicus brief,” Lyon said.
Mayor Laura Rosenthal submitted the city’s official letter of opposition to the project this week to California Governor Jerry Brown.
The letter dated April 23, 2012, states: “The primary reason for the opposition vote was the clear disregard of the city’s written concerns about the project and its potential impact on water quality and the environment. I am attaching the letters that the city has written to the California Coastal Commission and State Parks with regards to our water quality and environmental concerns. These issues were inadequately addressed in a response by State Parks on March 30, 2012. In addition, numerous project management concerns of the Malibu community have been ignored by the lead agencies, leading to mistrust and anger over this project.”
“In addition, at the same April 9 meeting, the city council authorized the procurement of the USGS (United States Geological Survey) to provide an independent scientific review of all the technical documents of the Lagoon project,” the letter stated. “The primary focus of the review will include biological, sediment transport, and water quality/hydraulic assessments. Finally, the city will be filing an amicus brief, citing the above issues, on behalf of the current appeal.
“Over the last several years, the City of Malibu has spent over $50 million on water quality improvement projects. 
“Even with this substantial commitment to protect our local creeks and oceans, we have been entangled in multiple lawsuits by environmental groups regarding water quality. These lawsuits have cost the City millions of dollars, which could have been better spent on improving water quality. As a result, we are extremely sensitive to water quality issues in our local waters and wary of projects that might negatively effect these hard fought improvements. Therefore, it is easily understood why we need to take action to protect our local waterways for our millions of visitors, our residents, and the aquatic life.
“At this time, we want this project to be placed on a permanent hold until State Parks has adequately addressed all of our concerns and until we have been able to secure an independent review from the USGS on the project.   Your support of the City’s request would be greatly appreciated.”

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