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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Facilities District OK’d for City Sewer

• No One within Proposed Boundaries  Files Written Protest

BY BILL KOENEKER

On a 4-1 vote with Councilmember Skylar Peak dissenting, the Malibu City Council this week approved forming a Community Facilities District to levy special taxes on 15 properties within the CFD boundary for the Malibu Civic Center wastewater treatment plant design phase in order “to issue bonded indebtedness.”
The city council had previously given notice declaring its intention to form a CFD in order to levy special taxes within the district utilizing bonds to pay for $6.5 million worth of design work for the wastewater plant.
City Clerk Lisa Pope informed the council she had received no protests and only one public speaker came to the council chambers to voice objections.
Peak did not explain his dissenting vote. When it was his turn to speak, he said, “No comment.”
City Attorney Christi Hogin spoke before the council members’ comments. She asked, “How did we get here?” and indicated, “We do not believe the Civic Center is polluting the ocean. We brought new science to the water board, which chose to believe in the old science and issued the [discharge] prohibition.”
“This has nothing to do with growth inducing. How much can be built is governed by the General Plan and the Local Coastal Program,” Hogin said.
The city attorney said this is a way to test the old science versus the new science. “We think the wastewater plant won’t have any effect on water quality. If we are proven wrong, why wouldn’t we go to phase two and three? We are not going to ask people to pull out expensive onsite systems,” Hogin added.
Councilmember Lou La Monte praised City Manager Jim Thorsen for his negotiations with the RWQCB that resulted in the memo of understanding creating a phased in approach.
La Monte said it was time for the Civic Center property owners to begin to pay the design bills rather than the city. “The city paid its fair share,” he said.
Councilmember John Sibert agreed, “What the water boards did is the triumph of dogma over fact. The negotiations got it down to phases,” he said.
Sibert talked about how the proposed injection wells for discharging effluent would not be deep wells. “They will be 180 to 250 feet. That is not a deep well,” he said.
City Manager Jim Thorsen added the wells doe not go into bedrock.
Sibert said there is a misperception about the pressure. “It is about 2.5 pounds,” he said.
He said people are talking about millions of gallons, but the injection is done only when it is needed and not all of the time. He said there was discussion about forms of storage, but nothing panned out.
“We are trying to keep property values stable. We are doing this in such a way we can show doing all of this doesn’t make a difference in the ocean. We avoid using our money upfront,” Sibert said.
Councilmember Joan House said the story about the board and he city sounds like “Alice in Wonderland,” adding, “It is important the city not invest its own money in this. This is not growth inducing.”
Mayor Laura Rosenthal also said she supported the actions. “Not any of us wanted this. It is the law. I appreciate people keeping to the facts.
Thorsen was asked when the city would get its money back and he said the $1 million invested by the city for design work already performed would come back when the bonds are sold.
The city manager said the city looked at an ocean outfall. “The outfall was a non-starter with about every environmental group,” he said.
The resolution sets forth the rate and method of apportionment of the special tax for the district and the special tax to finance the plant design and the incidental expenses.
The maximum special tax for each assessor’s parcel of non-residential property shall be $19,707.33 per acre and for each assessor’s parcel of residential property shall be $3,941.47 per acre, according to the public notice.
Beginning with fiscal year 2012-2013, and for each following fiscal year, the special tax shall be levied in equal percentages on each assessor’s parcel, up to the applicable maximum special tax. The maximum special tax shall not be levied after fiscal year 2052-2053. 
“If the city council determines to submit for a vote the question of levying the special taxes within and authorizing bonded indebtedness of community facilities district an election will be held to approve the levy of the special taxes and the issuance of bonds. At the election, each landowner within the community facilities district shall be entitled to cast one vote for each acre of land or portion thereof that it owns within community facilities district. For a proposition to be adopted, two-thirds of the votes cast at the election must favor passage, according to city officials.
The date of the election is November 20. On Nov. 26, the council can certify the election. The tax could be levied by Dec. 10. The bond sale can occur in January.
Feldman said the CFD would not attempt to collect the tax payments until after a benefits assessment district could be formed.
The vacant properties include what is called the Whole Foods parcel, which is headed by Steve Soboroff, who told the council it was the correct thing to do to start taking action.
Other property owners include the Malibu Bay Company, whose president David Reznick said he wanted to talk to the council about jump-starting the deadlines to adhere to the precise deadlines in the MOU.
Lagoon critic Andy Lyon told the council, “This is ridiculous. We don’t know if the design is going to work. Why aren’t we fighting this? What are we doing? This talk about buying Civic Center land—after doing this? There are no bargains. This is a joke. There are 15 owners who are going to decide,” he said.
Neither city nor county land can be included in a CFD, according to state law.

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