Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Malibu Park Residents Assess Impact of MHS Field Lighting During Use

• Temporary Restraining Order Provides Opportunity for Football Team to Finish Season under the Lights

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Malibu High School’s athletic field lighting debuted on Friday night for the MHS Sharks’ homecoming game. A temporary restraining order issued by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant allowed the lights to be used for two nights—Oct. 26 and Nov. 2—and then be removed while a lawsuit filed by the Malibu Community Alliance, a recently-formed community group comprised of many of the 400-plus homeowners directly impacted by the stadium lighting is addressed.
The homecoming game featured an extensive list of special guests, including members of the Malibu City Council and the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, who participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The event also featured a parade with many of the school’s other athletic teams, and the traditional halftime show, showcasing the Malibu High School cheer squad and drum line and the homecoming king and queen.
The Sharks played the Fillmore Flashes on Oct. 26, losing 49 to 6. They will go up against the Santa Clara Saints this Friday, seeking to win second place in the Frontier League in the final game of the season.
Area residents have stated that they are taking advantage of the two night games to assess and document the impact of the lights on their homes and primary views. A number of Malibu Park homeowners indicated that they did not have a sense of what the lights looked like until they saw them installed last week.
The Oct. 26 game was played in Santa Ana conditions, with winds gusting up to 30 mph. Weather forecasts indicate that this Friday’s game may be played under a more typical marine influence, offering an opportunity to observe sky glow under conditions with higher humidity.
The California Coastal Commission required that the lights be “downward facing” and equipped with the best technology available to direct the lighting onto the field and shield the environment from the impact of light spill. The lighting installed at the school is equipped with the “best technology available” from the contractor, Musco Lighting, according to the district.
However, observers reportedly documented sky glow generated by the lights from Broad Beach, the top of Trancas Canyon Road, Point Dume State Park, and at various points throughout Malibu Park.
The greatest impact from the lights was observed along Merritt Drive, where the lights appeared at eye-level for residents and motorists and along Harvester Road and Clover Heights.
The Malibu City Council required that the district remove the lighting fixtures each year when the period of light use specified by the Coastal Commission ends.
The MCA is expected to ask the judge to require the district to also remove the light poles. They are also expected to ask that the district be held to the 16 nights of use originally requested by lighting proponents.
The judge has ordered a follow up hearing on Nov. 8.
The Nov. 2 game kicks off at 7 p.m., following a ceremony to honor the senior players at 6:15 p.m.

State Lands Commission Set to Hear Broad Beach Project

BY BILL KOENEKER

The California State Lands Commission is scheduled to meet at Malibu City Hall on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 5 p.m.
The public hearing is about the Broad Beach restoration project. The Broad Beach Geological Hazard Abatement District is the project applicant representing 114 homes, spanning from Lechuza Point to Trancas Creek.
The commission staff has completed what the state agency calls “an  analysis of impacts to public trust resources and values” for the proposed project.
The Broad Beach GHAD was formed in Sept. 2011 with the blessing of the Malibu City Council.
The GHAD applied to the Lands Commission for a lease to address extensive erosion at Broad Beach. As proposed by the district the project would address geologic hazards at Broad Beach associated with storms, flooding, beach and dune erosion and anticipated sea level rise.
The components of the project analyzed by the state agency include “placing high-quality beach material to replenish Broad Beach with “dry” sand between the dune system and the shoreline, which is part of the beach nourishment program,” according to the SLC staff report.
The plan then calls for burying “the existing emergency revetment in the landward edge of the widened, nourished beach, and place imported beach-quality material over the existing  revetment to create a restored dune. That requires “finding offshore beach material probably by dredging and transport to the site. The dredge beach-compatible material at an offshore site or sites would be delivered from a holding vessel via dredge discharge pipeline,” according to the report.
Broad Beach resident Zan Marquis, a member of the GHAD, said that would be the preferable way or it might be delivered by truck depending on which location is chosen. He said a [source] location by Mugu Lagoon could be done by trucks.
Marquis added the South Bay location that got so much press because a couple of council members down there objected is still under consideration.
The State Lands Commission notice calls for an alternative onshore sand source. The sand could be collected from a stockpile adjacent to Calleguas Creek in Ventura County located near the intersection of Los Posas road and Hueneme Road and transport the sand by truck via Pacific Coast Highway to Broad Beach, according to the report.
A reservoir of sand “will be built to restore the dune habitat with native plant species,” the report continues. “The beach itself would be widened to provide enhanced public access and recreational opportunities along Broad Beach.”
“Between 1974 and 2009 approximately 600,000 cubic yards of sand was lost at Broad Beach, a majority of which has moved east to nourish Zuma Beach. On average, the shoreline moved inland 65 feet,” a report from Moffatt and Nichol in April 2010 concluded.
“The sand rate turned negative in 1974 and the loss rate accelerated to approximately 35,000 cubic yards per year during the last five years. 
Recent higher erosion rates during the 2009-2010 winter season necessitated that emergency precautions be taken to protect residential structures and onsite wastewater treatment systems located seaward of the residences,” the report went on to state.
Consequently, the homeowners obtained emergency permits for the installation of a rock revetment about five feet high and 25 feet wide, to protect the existing homes along the beach, city officials noted.
The property owners are now working on getting permits to allow a permanent buried rock revetment along with the periodic sand nourishment. The California Coastal Commission is the permitting agency and will oversee the project.
GHADs, according to the planning staff, are a political subdivision of the state and are formed in specific geographic areas to address potential geological hazards.
The purpose of a GHAD is to prevent, mitigate, control or abate defined geologic hazards through maintenance improvements or other means.
Financing of a GHAD is accomplished through an assessment of only those property owners who own real estate within the boundaries of the designated district, issuing and serving of bonds, notes or other debentures is also authorized under a GHAD.
The assessment was based on an engineer's report, which was prepared by ENGEO, Inc, according to city planners.
The assessments and associated financing of the GHAD improvements would be overseen entirely by the GHAD board.
The document prepared for the public hearing may be viewed electronically in PDF format on the CSLC Internet website at www.slc.ca.gov  and copies are also available at Malibu City Hall and the Malibu Library.
The State Lands Commission meeting will take place at Malibu City Hall on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 5 p.m.

Trancas Center Lighting Hearing Is Postponed

• Proposal Including 43 Pole-Mounted Lights to Be Heard Nov. 19

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu Planning Commission at its meeting next week is expected to continue a hearing originally scheduled for a request by contractor Scott Rosier to amend a coastal permit for night lights at the Trancas Country Market.
The staff recommendation is to continue the public hearing to the Nov. 19 regular planning commission meeting. The matter was originally scheduled for an Oct. 1 hearing, but was postponed after the applicant wanted to meet with neighbors, who were beginning to raise concerns about what the developer wanted to do.
According to Tony Dorn, a commercial broker selling space in the center, Erewhon Market, Starbucks, Sea Lily and Malibu Nursery have been joined by soon-to-be tenants Wells Fargo Bank, Pritchett Rapf Real Estate and restaurateur Antonio Alessi from Tra di Noi.
The original request for the shopping center, which is currently under construction, included changes to the previously approved lighting plan to allow the addition of 43 pole mounted lights that vary in height from 12 to 20 feet located throughout the parking lot and pedestrian areas, as well as other site lighting and building mounted lighting, according to a public notice issued by the city’s planning department.
The shopping center is currently being remodeled and this is the second set of changes or amendments to the coastal permit that have been requested.
Night lighting has become an issue, especially in Malibu Park, because of lights approved for the high school sports field and proposed for a new parking lot.
The planning commission turned down night lighting for the planned 150-car parking lot.
Even more controversial is the field lighting installed at the football football field last week at nearby Malibu Park.
The MHS field lighting was not heard by the planning commission, but was approved by the city council, instead.
Critics of the both night lighting plans point out that the requested lighting, when considered cumulatively, would result in significant negitive impacts to the night sky that cannot be fully mitigated.

Challenges to RWQCB Septic Prohibition Legality Grow

• City Defers Filing Lawsuit Over the Ban

BY BILL KOENEKER

While Malibu city officials have deferred legally challenging the LA Regional Water Quality Control Board and the state water board in Sacramento over the Civic Center septic ban, there are others that have filed suit.
Malibu municipal officials have deferred doing so while they work from a memo of understanding between the municipality and the water boards.
However, others such as Joan Lavine, a Malibu Road resident and attorney is legally challenging the legitimacy of the discharge ban accusing the boards of not following the law.
Currently she is challenging a lower court's ruling based on the bifurcation of the case and ruling judges. She is also appealing other aspects of the lower court's ruling.
Two environmental organizations, rather than challenging the prohibition, which they asked the board to impose, are challenging the MOU between the city and the water boards.
A petition of the Santa Monica Baykeeper and Heal the Bay is challenging the memo of understanding regarding phased implementation of the basin plan amendment prohibiting on-site wastewater disposal systems in the Malibu Civic Center area.
When the RWQCB board meets next week it is scheduled to discuss these items in closed session when it is also expected to discuss additional litigation by Green Acres, LLC versus the water boards challenging the basin plan amendment prohibiting on-site water disposal systems in the Civic Center.
Green Acres, LLC is the partnership entity, owns the Rancho Malibu Hotel property located on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Canyon Road.

Dick Van Dyke Co-Produces ‘Cabaret’ for Malibu Stage Co.

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Longtime Malibu resident Dick Van Dyke is producing his first play for the Malibu Stage Company.
 The 86-year-old actor will coproduce a revival of the musical “Cabaret,” scheduled to open Nov. 2 and run for five weeks, with Richard Johnson.
Cabaret, a 1966 Broadway musical, with book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, is based on John Van Druten’s 1951 Broadway play “I Am a Camera,” which was adapted from the 1939 novella “Goodbye to Berlin” by Christopher Isherwood. 
Set in Berlin, during Hitler’s rise to power, “Cabaret” brings to life the Kit Kat Klub, a decedent burlesque theater, and the characters who revolve around it.
The original 1966 production became a hit on Broadway, inspiring a 1972 film version that was only loosely based on the original, and a number of Broadway and West End revivals, including a London production that opened last month at the Savoy Theatre.
The Malibu Stage Company production of “Cabaret” is directed by Jeffery Passero. and stars Brent Moon, Lilli Passero, Denver Milord, Linda Kerns,  Allan Wasserman, Michael Hawley, Elizabeth Hayden, Joanna Burt, Michael Cusimano, Kevin Dennis, Britney Galido, Charissa Hogeland, John Lomazzi, Ian McQuown, Kristina Miller, Melanie Rose Mockobey, Meredith Overcash.
 “Life is a cabaret and you folks are going to see the greatest intimate theatre production of this musical of all time,” a press release states. “Brent Moon as the MC, Lilly Passero as Sally Bowles, with Dick Van Dyke and Richard Johnson producing and the great Jeff Passero with the director’s reigns, this promises to be the best ever.”
“Expect greatness and you will not be disappointed,” the press release states.
“It’s 1930’s Berlin and the sexy Kit Kat Klub has it’s share of trouble, what with the Nazi’s, and the Jews, and the many troubled dancers and singers,” the announcement continues.
“This passionate Kander and Ebb piece has received it’s just deserts in this major intimate production. What a date night, what a great night!”
The production is outgoing MSC artistic director Richard Johnson’s last project at the theater.
Van Dyke and his brother Jerry performed at the Malibu Stage Playhouse in a limited run engagement of Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys,” last year.
Earlier this year,Van Dyke performed in a one-night concert with his band the Vantastixs, at Pepperdine University to benefit the Malibu company, of which he is a founding member.
Van Dyke is this year’s recipient of the Screen Actors Guild’s Life Achievement Award. He is scheduled to receive the award during the group’s annual televised ceremony in January.
Performances of “Cabaret” are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m., at the Malibu Stage Company Playhouse, 29243 PCH, through Dec. 9.
FI and tickets: 310-589-1998.

Rusnak Porsche Celebrates Grand Opening of New Dealership

• Boutique Is Design Adjunct for Logo Enthusiasts

National economic pessimism was nowhere in sight as Porsche enthusiasts from Malibu to Monrovia  were poised to celebrate the official grand opening ceremony of Rusnak/Westlake Porsche last Thursday.
An upbeat and energized Paul Rusnak, chair and CEO of Rusnak Auto Group, hosted the event at the dealership at 3839 Auto Mall Drive in Thousand Oaks.
The new Rusnak Porsche dealership is on a five-acre lot and features a 9194-square-foot technologically advanced showroom.
Located about 30 minutes from Malibu via Kanan-Dume Road, Rusnak Porsche’s publicly stated goal is to “provide the ultimate Porsche experience.
Paul Rusnak said, “Since 1981, Rusnak has sold and serviced Porsches. Every department is staffed with Porsche certified personnel who are passionate about the brand.”
Rusnak added. “When you’ve been in the car business for 50 years, you learn that continually raising the bar is essential to growing your business. Our relationship with Porsche Cars North America has been outstanding and we are pleased to elevate sales and service experience to a higher standard.”
In addition to Porsche sales and service, the dealership will feature “The Boutique at Porsche Westlake,” which is described as “a dedicated driver’s selection by Porsche Design, a boutique that caters to both buyers and collectors featuring products, such as fashion apparel, luggage and leather accessories, sunglasses, watches, sports gear and ‘Colors of 1968.’”
“Rusnak Porsche’s new facility on Auto Mall Drive  is dedicated to make Rusnak Porsche, the ultimate destination for owners and aficionados,” added the dealership’s general manager  Keith Goldberg.
The firm stressed that, from the beginning, it was committed to sustainable solutions at the location, including renovating and reusing existing structures and materials rather than demolishing them and sending them to landfills; and installed energy efficient lighting in all areas.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lights Are Installed for MHS Homecoming as All Parties Claim TRO Win

• Impact of Athletic Field Lights Will Be Self-Evident When They Are Turned On Friday Night

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Four 70-foot-tall light standards were installed at the Malibu High School athletic field on Tuesday in time for the lights to be turned on for the MHS Homecoming game scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant issued a temporary restraining order that permits the lights to be used for two nights, after the Malibu Community Alliance, a recently-formed community group that filed suit to stop the district from installing the lights, requested a TRO after negotiations between the school district, the Shark Fund and the MCA reportedly broke down last week.
The TRO permits MHS to erect “removable light poles” for use at “the last two football games of 2012,” according to a press release issued by the MCA.
The judge has ordered a follow up hearing on the matter Nov. 8.
“[Relying on the School District’s declaration that the light poles were removable,] we have consistently stated that we are working toward a compromise agreement that includes removable light poles, lighting for a limited number of nights and community oversight,” said MCA spokesperson Cami Winikoff.
“Our goal is an agreement that helps the high school expand its athletic programs and at the same time protects the dark skies, property values and quality of life in Malibu Park,” Winikoff added.
The judge’s decision is viewed positively by both sides of the issue. The school will have the opportunity to use the lights for homecoming this year; and residents and school neighbors will have an opportunity to judge the actual impact of the lights after four years of speculation.
At Monday night’s Malibu City Council meeting, Councilmember Laura Rosenthal invited the community at large to attend the homecoming festivities.
Homecoming events start at 4 p.m. on Friday with tailgating and float decoration. The opening ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. The football game—Malibu Sharks v. Fillmore Flashes—will kick off at 6:30 p.m.
The Sharks have won the past five games and are reportedly optimistic that they will close the season with a sixth victory. A homecoming dance for students only will conclude the evening.
Both sides of the legal dispute are due back in court on Nov. 8. Opponents of the project say that they will continue to push for a compromise that includes removable light poles, stricter limitations on the number of nights the district can use the lights, and community oversight.

Council Decides to License City Logos to Create New Revenue Stream

• Assistant City Manager Says Agreement Is Unique Opportunity for a ‘Substantial Amount of Revenue’

BY BILL KOENEKER

Can the City of Malibu make money on an official logo? That is the gamble a majority of the Malibu City Council agreed to take this week when it approved spending $90,000 from its reserve fund to hire an exclusive licensing agent for the municipality.
The lone dissenter was Councilmember Skylar Peak, who said, “$ 90,000 sounds like a ton of money. We could use that money for a skate park.”
The idea, which was highly touted by former Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, comes at the behest of the city’s  communications ad hoc committee comprised of Mayor Lou La Monte and Councilmember Laura Rosenthal, who said, “Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. To find a revenue stream is wonderful and exciting. It is a unique opportunity and the rewards could be very substantial.”
“I see in the staff report it is recoupable,” said Councilmember Joan House.                      
Excel Corporation is the licensing agent that has been hired by the city, which has agreed to provide it a recoupable fee of $7,500 a month for a period of 12 months for the total of $90,000.
Excel’s representative Rod Stone told the council that he anticipates that the $90,000 fee will be recouped with the city’s logo program and the general fund will be reimbursed for the full amount plus more.
The council was told about how other municipalities approach branding and licensing. They also were given information on successful campaigns as well as material on companies and agents being used by other cities.
The assistant city manager noted that the city is not interested in pursuing a branding campaign, but solely a licensing program.
“The city has a unique opportunity to receive a substantial amount of revenue from its own licensing program,” Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman said.
Stone said the way to do that is to create City of Malibu logos that can be licensed.
“We will create a logo approved by you. You have total unfettered control over everything you decide, the designs and the packaging,” he said.
It was also explained that it is not the name Malibu, but rather an official City of Malibu logo that is owned and licensed by the municipality.
The name Malibu is already in widespread use on everything from vehicles to alcoholic beverages and outdoor lighting. The city cannot restrict that branding.
The council and the public were assured the city is in good financial shape, but a new revenue source could create the opportunity to fund additional community benefits, such as public safety, environmental programs, parks and recreation services, capital projects and overall enhanced city services.
After extensive research with a variety of licensing agents and firms, it was determined by staff that Excel Corporation would be appropriate to represent Malibu, according to Feldman, who indicated very few licensing agents have experience in licensing and marketing public entities.
Excel has represented such entities as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island, They also represent individuals, private companies and are currently assisting with the centennial celebration for the City of Beverly Hills, according to the assistant city manager.
The one-year renewable agreement  approved by the council provides for the municipality to retain control over all logos and that the city will have the final approval of all licensing agreements and product selections.
The city retains the existing city seal and would continue to use the seal for all official municipal documents and official city business matters, according to Feldman.
The proposed agreement calls for the city to receive revenue based on wholesale sales. The city would receive about 10 percent of the wholesale revenue. Excel will be paid on a percentage basis.
“As long as you have sufficient skin, I’m sure you will help us,” said Councilmember John Sibert.
Malibu city officials seem convinced that given Malibu is a well-known name around the globe, there should be many opportunities for the city to make money on a licensing program.
“The City of Malibu is an internationally recognized community. There are many opportunities for the city to develop a licensing program with an official City of Malibu logo. Currently, the city does not have a trademark or the licensing rights to the name ‘City of Malibu’ or to any specific logo,” added Feldman. The attempt is to create a new revenue source for the municipality. which listened to an oral report from the staff about two months ago.
It is not an attempt to change the image of the city or to promote tourism. “Most municipalities that develop a licensing program do so in an attempt to change the image of their city,” Feldman said, “These cities typically hire a licensing or branding company that markets the city for tourism. The City of Malibu is not faced with this challenge, as the city is highly regarded and hosts 15 million visitors a year.”

Sizable Series of Water Rate Hikes Sought for Waterworks District 29

• County Seeks 25 Percent Over Five Years

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a public hearing to consider any protests on the proposed water rate increases recommended for county Waterworks District 29, which includes Malibu and Topanga.
The meeting will be held in the hearing room of the board in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, Nov. 27.
The proposed rate plan calls for a 5.4 percent annual increase for the first two years and 5.2 percent annually for the succeeding three years, according to a notice sent to customers.
Revenues generated from the rate increase, according to district officials, will be used to close a gap between revenues and expenditures, build a 90-day cash reserve, fund annual infrastructure  projects, and offset a portion of asset depreciation.
Ratepayers are being told the proposed rate increases will result in an average annual revenue increase of $796,000 for operations and maintenance and the sum of $123,000 for capital infrastructure activities, for a total increase of $4.6 million over five years, according to the district.
“During the first year, the average single-family home using 73 hundred cubic feet bi-monthly will experience an approximately $21 increase on their bi-monthly water bill. Similar increases would occur each year thereafter,” the notice informs ratepayers.
District officials indicate the average bimonthly bill would increase from $398.17 in 2012 to $514.99 by 2017.
The board of supervisors, by law, will consider all protests against the proposed fee. If written protests against the proposed fee are presented by a majority of owners of parcels receiving service, the water district will not impose the fee, according to district officials.

Pepperdine Expansion Plans Put on Hold As Coastal Agency Staff Needs More Time

• One-Year Extension Will Allow for Additional Plan Review

BY BILL KOENEKER

The California Coastal Commission granted a one-year  extension on the time limit for action on Pepperdine University’s request to amend its certified Long Range Development Plan to implement its expansion plans when the coastal panel met in Oceanside last week.
Called the campus life project by school officials, the expansion plans consist of what the coastal commission staff are calling the six elements of expansion.
Not unexpectedly, the CCC staff indicated they would need more time in order to analyze the proposal.
Plans call for redeveloping existing student housing and providing additional student residential capacity, providing for a new multi-purpose athletics/events center, upgrading the existing soccer field for NCAA-compliant competition, providing for a new visitor welcome center with landscaped quad and two levels of  underground parking at campus core, placing approximately 157,000 cubic yards of excess fill generated by the expansion in the existing Marie Canyon debris basin and equestrian field, relocating the Marie Canyon debris basin further upstream and providing for an improved intramural sports field upon the fill placement area and replace a surface parking lot with a multi-level parking structure.
In May 2011, the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission unanimously approved the expansion plans that authorizes the construction, operation and maintenance of 394,137 square feet of new development and grading in excess of 100,000 cubic yards within approximately 365 acres of existing core campus on an 830-acre site within a two-year, two phase development program, according to regional planning department documents.
The applicant and 12 persons testified in favor of the project and no one opposed the project or expressed concern regarding the request.
The so-called student housing rehabilitation consists of 150,692 net new square feet, 468 new beds, an athletics and events center with a maximum 5000 fixed seats and 470 temporary seats consisting of 235,845 net new square feet and two underground levels and five above ground levels of structure parking, a new 4000 new square foot town square and welcome center with two levels of underground parking, school of law parking structure, three levels  above ground,
The approved plans also include a total of 2013 new parking spaces with the loss of 1217 spaces for a net increase of 796 spaces of onsite parking and up to a total of 5380 maximum spaces at project built out.
Project related earth movement is comprised of approximately 434,000 cubic yards, according to county planning officials.
An Environmental Impact Report indicated that after implementation of the required mitigation measures, the project would result in no significant and unavoidable impacts to the environment with the exception of special event traffic.
The matter went before the Coastal Commission for a determination of the expansion plans consistency with the LRDP. The extension would also give the CCC staff more time to make that evaluation.

Station Convenience Store’s Try for Beer and Wine Sales Rebuffed Again

• Issue of Prejudice and Applicant’s Ethnicity Is Raised

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council, on a 4-0 vote with Councilmember Joan House recusing herself, denied an appeal this week by the owner, MMK Enterprises, Inc., of the Circle K convenience store located at 21216 Pacific Coast Highway, over its efforts to obtain a permit to sell beer and wine.
The appellant, who is also the applicant, requested that the city council overturn the planning commission’s decision to not allow the store to engage in beer and wine sales.
Adding a new dimension to the series of hearings on the permit application, the city council was accused of discriminating against Persians, or Iranians, with Don Schmitz, who was hired by the family to expedite the matter intimating such allegations.
Schmitz cited the number of permits approved by the city allowing the sale of beer, wine or alcohol that have been issued since the planning commission’s original denial of Circle K.
The planning consultant, who is chair of the city’s trails committee and head of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce told council members, “I know you. I know you in your heart, but looking from the outside, it doesn’t look right. We should not be singled out.”
A supporter of the owner who spoke was more direct about possible ethnic discrimination and said, “It is because he, the owner, is Persian. All fingers point to yes.”
“I am personally insulted by this, to accuse us of this,” said Councilmember John Sibert, teleconferencing from his residence where he is recuperating from surgery.
Sibert said, “The argument seems to be, we probably have too many [alcohol outlets]. What about one more? My inclination is to deny the appeal,” he said.
“I am not basing my decision on ethnicity. That is rather insulting and insulting to the planning commission,” said Mayor Lou La Monte. There are way too many outlets in Malibu. I am one of your customers, but I can’t support this,” he said.
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal said she had many concerns and issues about the matter
“I do have to come back to why they were told no and why other places got permits. There were a lot of people who complained about [Circle K]. The greatest concentration seems to be around Circle K. When do we start limiting? Do we start now?”
Rosenthal said she could not understand why, if the applicant kept saying the sale of beer and wine was so incidental to his operations, he is trying so hard to get a permit.
Councilmember Skylar Peak was adamant that “we need to start limiting now. If we don’t, we will continue to have more accidents on the highway.” He added, “ We hear the sirens all the time. But it does need to be fair.”
The council denied the appeal and also denied the Conditional Use Permit for “the sale of beer and wine for offsite consumption as an accessory use to the existing Circle K convenience store.”
The proposal was rejected by the planning commission on two separate occasions.
During the previous hearings, commissioners were apparently swayed by public opinion that there were already too many outlets where alcoholic beverages can be obtained along that stretch of Pacific Coast Highway.
Schmitz unsuccessfully argued that the basis for denial on the grounds that there are a concentration of too many businesses selling alcohol for off-site consumption is not legal and cannot be implemented by the municipality. Planning staff disagreed citing ABC’s determination the Los Flores vicinity is a high crime area with a concentration of too many outlets..
In May 2007, an application was received by the planning department for a CUP for store use, which included a proposal to sell beer and wine, as well as the interior remodel of the existing service station.
At that meeting, commissioners heard from homeowners, attorneys and others who protested the opening of another location for the sale of alcoholic beverages given the proximity of so many other outlets in the immediate area.
A second meeting was no different when some of that same group of critics came back to the commission to show opposition.
The staff carried out a reevaluation of the new CUP application and “determined that onsite conditions, which led the planning commission to the aforementioned conclusion, have not changed since 2007.”
During his presentation before the commission, the applicant’s consultant said they were willing to accept almost any conditions the commission or the public would want to impose for approval of the permit.
The applicant had also argued the sale of beer and wine “will be an incidental sale item to the nearly 5000 goods currently offered for sale at the market.”

Malibu’s Halloween Meister Outdoes Himself Year after Year

• Local Children Are Invited to Trick-or-Treat in a Wonderland of Gory Special Effects

Longtime Malibu resident Dick Van Dyke may be a beloved entertainer of international renown whose diverse talents cross generational and cultural lines, but at heart he is the prototypical Halloween trick-or-treater reveling in the adrenal rush that comes from the mock fear generated by make-believe horror.
Van Dyke has decided that, even in a world where it is harder for children to partake of activities such as trick-or-treating because of fear for their safety, there should be ways that youngsters can enjoy the fun of Halloween. And Van Dyke gets to have a lot of fun at the same time.
Every Oct. 31, the Serra Retreat area resident’s property is transformed into a Halloween fantasy, a magical world of the macabre.
Walking down the driveway is like wandering onto the set of a horror movie, replete with blood, body parts, ghouls, bats and anything and everything one might associate with All Hallow’s Eve.
Van Dyke has had his advanced case of Halloweenitis for close to 50 years. He started his decorating mania when his own children were youngsters. They and others regularly will pitch in to help with his extravaganzas.
It involves many hands to get everything that has been kept in storage or newly acquired in place with a short period of lead time.
If one wants to see Van Dyke in a state of total animation, ask about the children’s reactions and the props, and the result is an exuberance unmatched on the pages of a movie script.
Equally unmatched on some horror movie sets are the accumulations of special effects that are guaranteed to make the visit to the location an annual event.
From the moment one reaches the gate at 23215 Mariposa de Oro, they should begin to look everywhere. Every nook and cranny holds a hidden surprise—from a startle to a smile.
There is a graveyard that rivals anything one could conjure up in a nightmare, and the asylum door leading to the giant candy barrel is frighteningly inviting. The duality of fear and humor is evident in the way the props have been arranged.
Animatronic humans and animals provide the instantaneous fright that is transformed into laughter.
Van Dyke adds to his extensive collection every year. The element of surprise adds to the event, so all we’ll say is one of this year’s additions is over a story tall and quite spooky.
Although one is always aware that this is all make-believe, there may be a reminder lodged in human DNA of the need by predecessors to battle fearsome creatures of all species for survival.
Today’s digital savvy youth may also be interested in the technology behind the special effects, some of which mimic human movement while stimulating the sub-conscious.
Even when the Halloween extravaganza is viewed in entirety, it’s obvious that the most special of the special effects is Van Dyke himself.
His enthusiasm for the event and for children in general is infectious.
The effusive blood and gore are a reflection of genuine affection, and the delight in knowing that giving someone a good scare is old-fashioned fun.

Records Continue to Reveal Complex History of Persistant PCH Problems

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

The City of Malibu has completed the first period of input for a $300,000 study of traffic and safety on Pacific Coast Highway funded in part by Caltrans and co-sponsored by SCAG-the Southern California Association of Governments.
“The study will conclude with recommendations for prioritized improvements,” a City of Malibu press release on the project stated.
In the second of to articles on the history of PCH, the Malibu Surfside News will take a closer look at the western portion of the coastal route, from the Civic Center to the Ventura County Line.
The death of cyclist Marisela Echeverria, a 36-year-old Cypress Park residenton Oct. 13 shocked the Malibu community.
“It was a very, very sad and tragic loss of what seemingly was a wonderful young woman, Malibu City Councilmember Laura Rosenthal said at this week’s council meeting.
The meeting was adjourned in memory of the triathlete, who was thrown from her bike and struck an MTA bus near Puerco Canyon. The accident occurred on the same stretch of PCH where cyclists Stanislav Ionov, 46, and Scott Bleifer, 41, were struck and killed by a catering truck in September of 2005. In 1992, actor Ben Vareen was struck by a truck while walking along the same section of PCH and nearly killed.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department traffic data verifies that while the western portion of PCH in Malibu is wider and less congested than it is east of the Civic Center, it also has more high speed traffic and has been the area with the highest number of fatality accidents in recent years, including the 2010 deaths of pedestrians Emily Shane, the 13-year-old Malibu resident who was killed by a reckless driver near Heathercliff Road, and incident that initiated a new push for PCH safety; and 74-year-old Filipina caregiver Amelia Ordona, who was killed while crossing PCH near Winding Way.
The same year, two members of the U.S. Military on their way back to Naval Base Ventura County were struck by a wrong-way driver on PCH near Zumirez Drive. One man was killed, the other critically injured. The wrong-way driver was also killed in the incident.  
Although it may not seem that way to residents who dread the sound of sirens in the night, LASD data indicates that PCH  actually has a relatively  low fatality rate in Malibu.
On June 26, 1929, motorists lined up at Sycamore Cove at the western edge of the Topanga Malibu Sequit Rancho for the grand opening of Roosevelt Highway—the first public route through Malibu.
Malibu instantly became a destination for sightseers and beachgoers, but for homesteaders who lived in the portion of the Santa Monica Mountains not owned by the Rindges, the new road provided a lifeline. Prior to the construction of the coastal route, they were dependent on traveling below the high tide line along the beach. A trip to Santa Monica could take two days and require the traveler to camp out on the beach and wait for the tide.
According to “The Big Ranch Fight,” an article written by Jo Hindman that was published in 1955 and republished early this year in the Journal of Ventura County History, by 1917, the Rindge family had acquired the entire coast route all the way to Little Sycamore Canyon and closed it to all travelers, eliminating the safest and quickest access route for area residents, who no longer had access to the coast.
However, traffic patterns in western Malibu didn’t change dramatically until the building boom that followed WW II.
 In December of 1940 the Malibu Rancho was split into parcels and listed for sale. May Rindge, who spent the family fortune fighting the county, died two months later, in February 1941. Within six months, most of the land had been sold. However, WW II slowed plans for massive development. Instead of the hotels and luxury homes—one plan that never materialized for Point Dume included a massive hotel, complete with polo courts and a faux lighthouse, in keeping with former Rancho owner Frederick Hastings Rindge’s vision of the Point as an “American Riviera.” The military built a base on Point Dume and the only through traffic was long convoys of military vehicles traveling to Naval Base of Ventura County. Beach patrols continued until 1945.
The Marblehead Land Company, created by the Rindges to divide the land into parcels and to sell or lease it, defaulted on taxes and Los Angeles County foreclosed on the portion of property that is now Zuma Beach in the early 1940s and opened it to the public.
During the 1960s, the beach at Zuma remained an unaltered expanse of dunes.
The county demolished the handful of remaining beach homes, used to provide housing for lifeguard personnel, and built the parking lot in the early 1960s. Houses located on Westward Beach were condemned and the area was opened to the public.
The complicated intersection that provides access to Westward Beach and the main Zuma lot has also created an endless and ongoing series of traffic problems, according to residents. The area was a top priority for residents attending the recent public input portion of the ongoing traffic plan.
In addition to floods of beachgoers, PCH has also had its share of naturally occurring floods. Many, like the 1979 rockslides at Latigo Canyon, followed major wildfire events. Others occurred during “100-year” storm events.”
On March 4, 1938, “Sections of Roosevelt Highway, main coastal highway, were shifted to the sea like chips,” the Prescott Evening Courier reported. “Other sections were covered with landslides 15-16 feet deep...the swanky seashore movie colony, was as isolated as Robinson Crusoe's Island,” the report states. The flooding was due to a five-day rainstorm that deluged Southern California with 11 inches of rain from Ventura to San Juan Capistrano, causing catastrophic damage.
High tides and an epic swell that produced waves of up to 33 feet swamped portions of PCH throughout Malibu on Sept. 6, 1934, flooding many Malibu Colony homes and swamping the coast route along Corral Beach and at County Line.
In January of 1983, high surf and a series of powerful storms swamped a ten-mile stretch of PCH from Malibu Canyon to Trancas Canyon in mud and damaged more than 100 homes.
Western Malibu is also subject to rockslides. On Dec 20, 2010, a 10-mile section of Pacific Coast Highway, was closed to through traffic while Caltrans engineers and geologists worked to stabilize large sections of coastal bluff that was sliding due to heavy rains.
An effort in the late 1970s in the same vicinity involved helicopters positioning metal nets on the cliffs in an effort to mitigate rockslide activity.
Part of the landslide problem was created during the construction of PCH according to Caltrans documents. Coastal terraces and rock formations were dynamited and bulldozed to make room for the road. The debris was used to fill in creeks and wetland areas, including portions of the Malibu, Zuma and Trancas lagoons.
The new highway also came at a high cost for Malibu's cultural heritage. A large number of significant Chumash sites were leveled or buried to make way for the coastal route.
 Archeologist E.K. Burnett, in a monograph published in 1944, describes numerous finds hastily excavated by teams attempting to survey and catalog sites before road crews bulldozed them.
Many artifacts, including human remains, and entire villages and ceremonial sites were destroyed. Major archeological sites now buried under the roadway include extensive portions of the Leo Carrillo and Nicholas Canyon area, and a large Chumash cemetery near Malibu Creek.
Observers say that any answers designed to address the ongoing problems on PCH need to address issues that in many cases are as old as the road itself.

Professional Ghost Hunter Shares Stories of Southland’s Supernatural History

• Longtime Residents Say Malibu Has Its Own Halloween-Themed Incidents Involving the Unexplained

BY SUZANNE  GULDIMANN

Author and professional ghost hunter Richard Senate was at Bank of Books in Malibu recently, to share some home-grown ghost stories.
Senate described his first encounter with a ghost in 1978.  “A snap decision changed my life,” Senate said. He was staying at the Mission San Antonio de Padua in California as part of an archeological team, he told the audience. Finishing his work late one night he decided to stop by the kitchen for a snack before retiring. He started across the mission courtyard instead of going directly back to his room. “I saw a monk with a robe and a candle not 10 feet away from me,” Senate said. It was never transparent. It was there and then it vanished. My first impression was that it was a real person and that he must have fallen into a hole, or something. Then I realized the courtyard was gravel and I never heard his footsteps.”
The next morning, Senate asked the monks in residence at the mission about the incident. “'We see them all the time,' the Cistercian brothers replied.” Senate's ghost was identified as a Cistercian who for many years would light a candle at 12:30 a.m., and walk across the courtyard to the chapel to pray for an extra hour each night. “I could feel the hair rising on the back of my neck,” Senate said. “That was what I saw. You can’t forget the sight of your first ghost, not even if you want to.”
The episode at Mission San Antonio de Padua made a huge impression on Senate. He has spent the past 30 years “hunting ghosts” throughout California,  and as far afield as Nevada, Hawaii, England, New Orleans and Baja Mexico. “It’s been great fun,” he says.
Senate says that he has found that ghosts are “surprisingly common.” According to Senate, all of the California missions have ghosts, many have more than one. Theaters, schools the remaining Hollywood studios and even some radio stations are also popular haunts. 
“I’ve found that people who are artistic are more likely to see—and become—ghosts,” Senate said. “Every major film studio is haunted,” Senate adding that the practice of recycling and saving set pieces—and whatever energies or memories remain attached to them—may be a contributing factor.
Sound Stage 28 at Universal Studio’s, where the 1925 Lon Chaney version of “Phantom of the Opera,” was filmed and where an electrician tragically fell to his death during the film shoot, has a long history of haunting, according to Senate. “‘The Phantom of the Opera’ set is still there,” Senate explained. “Chaney was upset by the accident, he felt that he ordered the man to his death. They actually stopped production for several days, that was unusual back then. I have found that guilt or psychic shock is an important factor in hauntings.”
Senate recommends the San Fernando Mission, the Queen Mary in Long Beach and the William Hart Museum in Newhall as good spots for aspiring ghost hunters to seek a paranormal experience.
Senate said that he has investigated a number of Malibu hauntings at private residences, but that he could not discuss them, since the matter was confidential.
One case he was willing to discuss involved a woman who built her home on a Chumash sacred site. “Sometimes she would hear chanting, and a sound like ‘ziz,ziz,ziz,’” Senate said. He added that his research indicated that the curious sound might be the long vanished reverberation of a bullroarer, a type of instrument used in certain ceremonies.
“It was a sacred area, a place where you are not supposed to walk through,” Senate said. “I think that was the message.”
A Malibu area mystery that Senate was willing to discuss with the Malibu Surfside News after the presentation was that of actress Thelma Todd, probably the area’s best known ghost story.
Todd had a successful career in the late 1920s and early 1930s, co-starring in a number of comedies, including the Marx Brothers' films “Horsefeathers” and “Monkey Business.”  She was also the proprietor, with partner Roland West, of the Sidewalk Cafe located at Castellammare, just outside Malibu.
Todd was found dead in her car in the garage of her apartment located above the cafe on Dec. 15, 1935.  The incident was ruled a suicide, but the grand jury investigation revealed numerous details that did not appear to support the ruling. The autopsy indicated bruising around Todd’s neck, broken ribs and other injuries not consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning.
The case continues to be regarded by many as a murder. Todd’s ghost has reportedly been observed by many witnesses. She is most often seen walking down the exterior staircase connecting the former cafe and Todd’s upstairs apartment to the garage on Posetano road,  according to Senate.
“I’ve found that there are five motives for most ghosts,” Senate said.“Egotists, unfinished business, the need to check on children or loved ones, love, and rarely, revenge. I think Thelma’s ghost has unfinished business.”
There are allegedly plenty of other specters closer to home.
Some say that the Adamson House Museum has a ghostly presence. The Malibu Pier is also allegedly home to at least one specter.
One of the oldest residences on Point Dume reportedly has a helpful haunt that closes doors and turns off lights and a ghost cat that likes to climb onto the guest room bed at night.
Another residence, built during WW II as military barracks, was reportedly haunted for years by the hesitant footsteps of a phantom serviceman.
Early Malibu residents who reported ghost lights out to sea may have been observing real pirates, who found western Malibu's secluded coves and pocket beaches convenient for alcohol smuggling operations during prohibition. Drug runners have also used the same beaches, starting with opium and marijuana trafficking in the 1920s and continuing today.
However, Los Angeles County Lifeguards still receive occasional reports of unidentified lights on the water. Often the source of the lights is a fishing boat, or even an SOS flair; sometimes the lights remain inexplicable.
Ramirez Canyon children used to scare each other with stories of the Hanging Tree—a massive oak located at the side of the road that reportedly was once used to administer “justice” to a gang of outlaws. When the Santa Ana winds blow, they say, one can hear the sound of the hanging rope creaking.
The Keller Oak, in Solstice Canyon, and nearby Keller House, which was destroyed in the 2007 Corral Fire, are also focal points for local legends. However, the watchful presence in the shadow of the ancient oak or near the old stone building has allegedly diminished following the 2007 fire.
 Some say the presence is that of Matthew—Don Mateo—Keller, the Irish-American businessman who bought the Malibu Ranchero in 1857. Others claim it is the spirit of a long forgotten vaquero, whose bones rest in the grove of trees.
Longtime Malibuites still call rockslides that close PCH and power outages that plunge the community into darkness “Rindge’s Revenge,” as a nod to May Knight Rindge, Malibu’s most famous defender. Rindge, the widow of Frederick Hastings Rindge and the last owner of the entire Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit, spent two decades and the family fortune fighting to keep first the railroad and then the highway out of Malibu. Rindge was a formidable horsewoman, who rode her range armed with a pistol to discourage trespassers.
Her fierce love of the land she fought to preserve gives her a lasting presence in Malibu that is substantial, not ghostly.
Richard Senate is the author of “Haunted Southland,” and the “Ghost Stalker’s Guide to Haunted California,” and other books.
He frequently leads ghost walks in the Ventura area. More information is available at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Richard-Senate-Ghost-Hunter/122903611086691

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Los Angeles County Firefighters Respond Quickly to Decker School Road Fire

• Observers Say Rapid Deployment of Aircraft May Have Averted Major Emergency Situation

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Millions of Californians are preparing to test their disaster preparedness on Thursday for the annual Great California Shakeout, but Decker Canyon residents had their own disaster drill on Monday, when a wildfire broke out.
Los Angeles County fire fighters responded swiftly to the fire that ignited near Decker School Road on Monday at approximately 11:35 a.m.
“Several fire trucks arrived and they promptly got a handle on the flames,” longtime Malibu ranch owner Judy Mora told the Malibu Surfside News.
”At about noon aircraft in abundance filled the sky, making quick work of a potentially bad situation. Each plane dropped once, circled then flew away south west. One of two yellow helicopters did what seemed a recognizant pass over the hot spot. Then the second 'copter spread a black retardant, to the cheers of the neighborhood horse girls!” Mora said.
Many residents reportedly gathered to watch the aerial assault on the flames and cheer the firefighters.
City of Malibu Emergency Services Coordinator Brad Davis confirmed that Super Scoopers and helicopters were deployed to the fire scene, and swiftly knocked down the flames.
The fire, which was burning on a densely vegetated ridge, was contained at approximate a quarter of an acre. Although it was hot and humidity was low, there was no wind to fuel the blaze. However, fire crews remained on the scene throughout the day as a precaution. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
Malibu and much of Southern California will continue to experience heightened fire danger through Thursday, with hot temperatures peaking on Wednesday. Forecasts call for the marine layer to return on Thursday night, but LAFD is warning that peak fire season will persist in Malibu until the winter rains arrive.
Records show that several of Malibu’s most catastrophic fires have occurred in October.
On Oct. 26, 1929, a fire that swept down Malibu Canyon destroyed many homes in the newly established Malibu Colony.
The Oct. 23, 1935, Malibu Fire burned 28,202 acres, while an Oct. 20, 1943, wildfire burned “all the way to the edge of Roosevelt Highway” (PCH), according to newspaper reports.
On Oct. 23, 1978, a 17-year-old arsonist ignited a fire that burned 25,000 acres from Cornell Road in Agoura Hills to the ocean at Broad Beach in Malibu News reports state that the fire was reported in Agoura Hills at 12:11 p.m., and that by 2:30 p.m., the leading edge of the fire had traversed almost 15 miles across Santa Monica Mountains and crossed PCH near Encinal Canyon. The Agoura-Malibu Fire destroyed a total of 162 Malibu homes and a total of 230 buildings.
The  Oct. 14, 1982, Dayton Fire once again followed the Malibu Canyon corridor fire path, burning 44,000 acres.This fire crossed the highway at Paradise Cove and burned a number of mobile homes. Point Dume residents heard the explosions from Paradise Cove propane tanks while they watched the fire move west. The fire crossed PCH again near Selfridge Road at Point Dume, but was extinguished before it could spread.
The Oct. 14, 1985, Decker and Piuma fires-both ignited by arsonists-burned more than 10,000 acres, and destroyed six homes, while the Nov. 2, 1993, Malibu-Old Topanga Fire-a conflagration of two blazes, scorched 16,500 acres, killing three and destroying 739 buildings.
More recently, the 2007 October Canyon Fire burned 1200 acres. It destroyed five houses, damaged Webster Elementary and Our Lady of Malibu schools, and burned Malibu Presbyterian Church to the ground.
Rapid response and a lack of wind prevented the Oct. 15 Decker Canyon incident from becoming a major disaster, but  emergency responders say  the episode is a good reminder that fires can start at any time when humidity is low and brush is dry. All Malibu residents should be vigilant, report any suspicious activity in high fire risk areas and make sure they have an up-to-date fire emergency evacuation plan for all family members, including pets and livestock.

Installation of MHS Lights Awaiting Negotiators’ Green Light

• Electrical Prep Is Underway While Fine-Tuning of Schedule for Post Usage Is Being Finalized 

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Despite ongoing legal negotiations between the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, the City of Malibu, the Malibu Township Council and the Malibu Community Preservation Alliance—an organization of concerned residents that formed earlier this year to contest the decision to permit more than 60 nights of night light use and the installation of permanent 70-foot-tall poles topped with a total of 48 1500-watt light fixtures at the school’s athletic field—construction workers at Malibu High School were digging trenches this week for the electrical wiring required for the lighting project.
The poles have also arrived at the site, and are being stored until  other installation is finalized.
Steve Uhring, a representative of the Malibu Township Council, told the Malibu Surfside News that he is optimistic that negotiations can be concluded in time for this year’s homecoming game.
“Everyone agrees about homecoming,” Uhring said. “What we don’t want to see is the athletic field becoming a rentable athletic venue.
In 2009, the plan called for events at the high school field some 200-plus nights a year,” Uhring explained in an email.
“A recent announcement from the SMMUSD describes the district’s new website that allows interested parties to identify and rent school district properties on evenings and weekends,” Uhring added, indicating that residents will continue to adamantly oppose any plan to expand the number of nights and that the lawsuit was necessary because the school district has done little to dispell concerns that light use will not be monitored and that the number of nights will continue to expand, despite restrictions established by the California Coastal Commission to limit the negative environmental impact.
Before granting approval for the lighting plan in June, the Malibu City Council required that the school remove the light fixtures during the months when the lights are not in use. Observers say that the negotiations over the final lighting plan may include a provision to also remove the top portion of the 70-foot poles when the lights are not in use.

Supporters of Point Dume Business Plan to Protest Replacement Friday

• Owner of Center Offers Help with Moving Costs But Stands by Decision to Rent to Another Pizzeria

BY BILL KOENEKER

It is a study in contrasts how two very different Malibu restaurants, Guido’s and Point Pizza, recently announced their closure, some community members’ response and the subsequent possible outcomes for both.
In an interview with Point Dume Village shopping center owner Zan Marquis, the center owner reaffirmed that the Point Pizza eatery was out, but said he is very willing to help the owner relocate in Malibu or elsewhere. He said he has not heard about this offer from her yet.
When asked about Marquis’ offer, Hyesong Oh said she did not take it seriously and cannot see how she could afford the cash, risk, or complications of opening a new takeout establishment.
But neither is Oh willing to terminate the business. “I’m not ready to retire [at 60]. I’m willing to work 10 more years,” the Thousand Oaks resident said.
Marquis’ decision to go with another eatery was met with a protest at the center last Friday.
The loosely structured coalition of Point Pizza supporters is indicating that it plans a similar protest rally at D’Amore’s in east Malibu, the Italian restaurant that will open a second location in the space being vacated Dec. 31.
D’Amore’s, a small chain of eateries with a much larger menu than Point Pizza, is owned by a Malibu family. It has announced it will strive for all-organic and natural ingredients in keeping with a theme that Marquis says he wants to implement at the center.
When asked to comment on the furor surrounding her departure. Oh said, “I don’t blame anybody. Zan has a right to choose anybody. I will miss the customers. It is very sad to separate from them.”
Marquis said he is still struggling with his decision, but is convinced it is the right one for the shopping center. “I’ve got $4 million invested in improvements in the center. I’m trying to improve this by offering goods and services for the neighborhood. That is my job and my prerogative,” Marquis said.
Referring to the protesters, Marquis stated, “I can’t subject leasing decisions to a committee.”
Marquis indicated he also seeks to dispel what he called “falsehoods circulating” around town. “I am a partner with only one retailer in this center. I don’t have an agenda about partnering with anyone else. There are no plans to replace Lily’s or the pharmacy. I’m actually helping by opening a public restroom for Lily’s to expand her dinner business.”
CONTRAST
In the center of the community, Malibu Village shopping center owner Matt Khoury said he believes he and some local residents are very close to signing a deal for the space housing Guido’s.
There have been no protests at Malibu Village over the apparent shuttering of Guido’s, which for years has been the unofficial watering hole for City Hall.
“I can’t say who it is yet. I can’t say it is done yet,” the shopping center owner indicated, referring to the impending deal that is now under negotiation.
Khoury did indicate, however, that the management of Guido’s is supposed “to be out now.”
The center owner also noted he wants to wait before he publicly announces any specifics about the new establishment, other than to say it will be operated by locals.
In addition, Khoury indicated, “We are close to opening another restaurant in one of the vacant spaces” in Malibu Village.
Khoury said this new restaurant responds to Malibuites’ requests for reasonably priced dining fare.
He added that he thinks Chipotle restaurant, which was approved by the planning commission in April, will open soon.
Khoury indicated that he thinks the three new food options may lead to Malibu Village becoming many local residents’ favorite “dining-out” destination.

Local Farmers Market’s Yearly Review OK’d by Planning Commission

• Complaints about Business and Operation Are Aired But Don’t Affect Assessment

BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu Planning Commission at its Monday night meeting listened to the staff report regarding the Cornucopia Foundation’s Farmers Market annual review process.
Associate Planner Ha Ly told the commissioners the Conditional Use Permit approved for the farmers market has as a condition of approval a yearly review of the operations of the market, which is set up on the county-owned parking lot of the Civic Center complex.
The review is to determine whether the market is in compliance with the conditions of the permit.
Ly said a site visit was made during the operation of the market and encountered only one problem: a vendor using plastic bags who was immediately told to stop by the applicant and did so.
“The market was in conformance with the conditions of approval,” said the city planner.
However, Malibu resident and attorney, Carolyn Wallace said there are all kinds of problems at the market that the planning panel should look into.
“I applied to the market. I’m at four other markets and was denied access to the Malibu market. That hurts my business. The farmers market is supposed to support local businesses,” said Wallace, who indicated she sells jellies and jams.
Wallace said she could find nothing that indicates the Cornucopia Foundation exists or if it actually operates the farmers market.
“I don’t’ know if there is a foundation. There seems to be questionable business practices. They are a non-profit, but records show there is a $42,000 surplus at the end of 2012, yet the fees are being raised,” she said.
“People [vendors] are dropping out. There have been a number of complaints about the market, and I’m requesting the staff forward the complaints to the commission.” Wallace added.
Turning back to the staff, Chair John Mazza asked if there were any violations of the CUP. Ly said “No.”
“Are there any code enforcement complaints?,” he asked. “No,” the staffer answered.
Commissioner Mikke Pierson said he has discussed the matter with one of the planners and also disclosed that he knows Wallace, who is a friend of his mother.   
“I was told there is nothing we can do. This exercise seems like a complete waste of time. If there are issues, we need to find out how they can be addressed. The planning commission has no power over this,” Pierson said.
Commissioner Jeff Jennings said he recalled that a while back there had been complaints. “When does the CUP expire?” he asked.
Planning Director Joyce Parker Bozylinski said the CUP runs with the land and does not expire [the usual condition of a CUP].
Jennings said as long as the applicant has the lease with the county, Cornucopia can apparently continue to run the market.
Pierson wanted to know what is available for local growers or producers.
Planner Ly said there is a small area dedicated to local growers and they don’t pay the regular rental rates for a tent, but share one and donate 10 percent of their proceeds to the market.
Pierson wanted to know if 65 percent, as is required, of the market is certified for growers per square feet.
“Do they have the correct certification?” he asked. He was told yes.
Parker Bozylinski said the 65 percent was chosen because the council wanted to have a farmers market and not a flea market.
Pearson said, “This goes on forever, but times change.”
“We have no mechanism to revisit it,” said the planning director. Whereupon, Mazza said, “This is why we have the review.” We could bring it back for revocation [of the CUP]. Most CUPs do not have this kind of review.”
The commission on a 4-0 vote with Commissioner David Brotman absent voted to receive and file the report and took no further action.

Spirited October Events Offer Halloween Treats for Malibuites of All Ages

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Halloween is almost two weeks away, but ghosts and pumpkins are materializing in the front yards of many Malibu home in anticipation of the holiday, and Malibuites have a wide assortment of exciting Halloween-themed events and activities to choose from this year, ranging from family friendly to frightening fun for older Halloween revelers.
The City of Malibu’s Department of Parks and Recreation kicks off this year’s  Halloween festivities with a “Teen Drive-In Movie Night and Haunted Maze” at Malibu Bluffs Park on friday, Oct. 19, beginning at 5 p.m.
The 1982 film “Ghostbusters” will screen at dusk. Filmgoers can watch from their cars or bring lawn chairs or blankets and for an outdoor viewing experience.
The suggested  donation is $5 per person, or three canned food items. FI: 310-456-2489 ext. 350.
Also on Friday, Oct. 19, Bank of Books, 29169 Heathercliff Road, invites Malibuites for an evening of "Very Scary Stories,” 7 - 8:30 p.m. This free event is not intended for very young children. However, a "Not-So-Scary Halloween Party,” featuring a theatre troupe, crafts, music, is scheduled for Oct. 20 at the bookstore, and offers fun for all ages. Both events are free. FI: 310-457.5699
Our Lady of Malibu School, 3625 S. Winter Canyon Road, invites the community to a celebration of the season at its fifth annual  Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 20, noon-7 p.m.
The festival will feature a haunted house staffed and dreamed up by creative OLM students;  a rock wall; bounce house; Bungee jump; laser tag; face painting; food; live entertainment;  and more.
Admission to the OLM Fall Family Festival is free. FI: 310-456-8071.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, intrepid hikers and trick-or-treaters are invited to the National Park Service’s  Circle X Contact Station, 12896 Yerba Buena Road, for the rangers’ annual Cider at Circle X event.
Park staff will be on hand to share the colorful history of this remote corner of the local mountains and recommend the best trails for fall exploration. FI: www.nps.gov/samo
Also on Oct. 27, the Malibu Ladies Golf Club is sponsoring a Charity Halloween Golf Tournament, in support of the Lung Cancer Foundation of America, from 11 a.m. until evening, at the Malibu Country Club, 901 Encinal Canyon Road.
The fundraising event will feature golfing, games, prizes, lunch, hors d’oeuvres, a costume contest and a silent auction. FI: www.lcfofamerica.org
The Canyon Club, 28912 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills. has a lineup of Halloween themed events that range from scary to nostalgic.
The club’s first ever Haunted Halloween Mansion will be materializing between Oct. 25-Nov. 1
A press release describes the mansion as “Chills, kills and spooky thrills galore, all for a good cause!”  Net proceeds benefit local charities, including WhatCanWe.org—dedicated to raising funds for veterinary bills accumulated by animal rescue organizations; Girls In Power, which  empowers young girls through its mentoring program; and Rod Dixon's Kids Marathon—an organization dedicated to keeping kids in shape through proper nutrition and exercise.
On Oct. 26, the Oingo Boingo tribute band Dead Man’s Party will channel the spirit of the the legendary band from the 1980s, while on Oct. 27, the Boogie Knights will celebrating their 20th anniversary 1970s-themed Halloween  party. FI and tickets: www.canyonclub.net.
The Malibu Country Mart, 3835 Cross Creek Rd., is hosting its annual “Maliboo Trick or Treat” Halloween event from                          4-7 p.m. on Halloween Day, Oct. 31.
This free, fun-filled event features activities for all ages.
Costume judging—categories include children, adults and canines—will take place at 6 p.m.
Other activities will include trick-or-treating at participating stores, face painting, balloon animals, and more. FI: www.malibucountrymart.com

Pastry Fans Say MUMC’s Pie Festival Is a Slice of Heaven

This year’s Malibu United Methodist Church Pie Festival winners are:
CHILDREN
Six and under: 1.Fresh Strawberry Pie by Lindsey Little; 2.Apple Pie by Malibu Methodist Nursery School; 3. Gummy Bear Town Pie by Zoe Doyle.
Ages 7-10: 1.Key Lime Pie by Marielle Mandeville; 2. Pumpkin Happiness by Luisa Beck; 3. Nutter Brain Pie by Joshua Doyle.
Ages 11-14: 1. Extreme Cheesecake by Tiffany Martin; 2. Ava’s Key Lime Pie by Ava Norrell; 3.Pumpkin Pie by Helena Mandeville.
ADULTS
Apple: 1. Naked Apple by Laurie Principe; 2. Zimmer Family Apple Pie by Max and Suzanne Zimmer; 3. Organic Sweet Apple Pie by Laurie Principe. Fruit: 1. Lemon Cloud Pie by Dorothy Reinhold; 2. Organic Blueberry Pie by Laurie Principe; 3. Strawberry Rhubarb by Laura Hicks
Chocolate: 1. Chocolate Mascarpone by Beth Milliken; 2.Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Pie by Dennis Principe; 3.Girl in the Curl Chocolate Mint by Abby Blackwood.
Seasonal: 1. Ricotta Nut Pie by Dominica Schiro; 2. Pumpkin Cream Pie by Helena Little; 3. Chicken Pot Pie by Laurie Principe. Meringue/ Cream Pie: 1. Crack Pie by John Loy; 2. Lemon Curd Meringue by Christine Hogue; 3. Fresh Pineapple Pie by Laura Hicks.
Cheesecake: 1. Lemon Cheesecake by Dominica Shiro 2.  Tamara’s Rumball and Coke Cheesecake by Tamara Gross.
Professional: 1. Chocolate Salted Carmel Pie by Kristine Boccino of the Godmother Cafe; 2. Bill’s Apple Pie by Malibu Kitchen; 3.Market Blueberry Cheesecake by Kristine Boccino of the Godmother Café.
Other activities at the festival included live music, a drum circle for adults and children, mural painting, games and contests, gourmet food trucks, pie eating contests, and an opportunity to visit with friends and neighbors.

City Council Looks at ‘Marketing Malibu’ to Put Big Bucks in the Till

• Some Officials Think the Financial Potential Is Great Enough to Eliminate Local Fiscal Woes

BY BILL KOENEKER

Can the City of Malibu make money on its name? That is the question that will be posed before the Malibu City Council next week when it is being asked to spend $90,000 from its reserve fund to hire an exclusive licensing agent for the municipality.
The idea, which was highly touted by former Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, comes at the behest of the city’s  communications ad hoc committee comprised of Mayor Lou La Monte and Councilmember Laura Rosenthal.
Excel Corporation is the licensing agent, which has agreed to provide a recoupable fee of $7,500 a month for a period of 12 months for a total of $90,000.
“It is anticipated that the fee of $90,000 will be recouped with this program and the general fund will be reimbursed for the full amount,” wrote Reva Feldman, assistant city manager, in a staff report.
Malibu city officials seem convinced that given Malibu is a well-known name around the globe, there should be many opportunities for the city to make money on a licensing program.
“The City of Malibu is an internationally recognized community. There are many opportunities for the city to develop a licensing program with an official City of Malibu logo. Currently, the city does not have a trademark or the licensing rights to the name ‘City of Malibu’ or to any specific logo,” added Feldman. The attempt is to create a new revenue source for the municipality.
The city’s A&F subcommittee also looked into the matter and directed staff to research licensing agents and branding companies and to provide a report to the Communications Ad Hoc Committee, which listened to an oral report from the staff about two months ago.
The committee was told about how other municipalities approach branding and licensing. They also got information on successful campaigns as well companies and agents being used by other cities.
“Most municipalities that develop a licensing program do so in an attempt to change the image of their city,” Feldman wrote, “These cities typically hire a licensing or branding company that markets the city for tourism. The City of Malibu is not faced with this challenges, as the city is highly regarded and hosts 15 million visitors a year.”
The assistant city manager noted the city is not interested in pursuing a branding campaign, but rather a licensing program that will preserve the “unique characteristics of Malibu.”
“Many private companies are currently profiting from the use of the Malibu name. Products such as the Chevy Malibu, Malibu Rum, Malibu Barbie and Malibu Boats are actively being marketed. The city has a unique opportunity to receive a substantial amount of revenue from its own licensing program,” Feldman wrote.
Experts say the typical approach to increasing municipal revenue is to increase taxes.
“The opportunity to establish a new revenue source that does not create a new tax or obligation for residents is extremely unique.”
Feldman, in her staff report, assures the council and the public, that the city is in good financial shape, but a new revenue source could create the opportunity for additional community benefits such as public safety, environmental programs, parks and recreation services, capital projects and overall enhanced city services.
After extensive research with a variety of licensing agents and firms, it was determined by staff that Excel Corporation would be appropriate to represent Malibu, according to Feldman. “Very few licensing agents have experience in licensing and marketing public entities. Excel has represented such entities as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty/Ellis island, the Bush to Bush Inaugural Celebration, UNICEF and the American Ballet Theater. They also represent individuals, private companies and are currently assisting with the Centennial celebration for the city of Beverly Hills.
The communications ad hoc committee met with Excel representatives and recommended the staff work with them on the terms of an agreement, according to the staff report.
The one-year renewable agreement, if approved by the council, provides for the municipality to retain control over all logos and that the city will have the final approval of all licensing agreements and product selection.
The proposed agreement provides for the creation of a new logo or logos that can be licensed. The city retains the existing city seal and would continue to use the seal for all official city documents and official city business matters, according to Feldman.
The proposed agreement calls for the city to receive revenue based on wholesale sales. The city would receive about 10 percent of the wholesale revenue. Excel will be paid on a percentage basis.
CIRCLE K
REHEARING SET
In other matters, after several continuances sought by the owner, MMK Enterprises, Inc. of the Circle K convenience store located at 21216 Pacific Coast Highway, an appeal hearing sought by the applicant is expected to go forward next Monday.
The appellant, who is also the applicant wants the city council to overturn the planning commission’s decision to not allow the store to sell beer and wine.
The city council was scheduled to hear the appeal at its regularly scheduled meeting back in July when it was postponed and another cancellation was sought for a rescheduled date on Aug. 27 until Sept. 10.
At that time council members said they wanted the matter scheduled for a date certain on Oct. 22
The planning staff is recommending the council deny the appeal and also deny the Conditional Use Permit for “the sale of beer and wine for offsite consumption as an accessory use to the existing Circle K convenience store.”
The proposal was rejected by the planning commission on two separate occasions.
During the previous hearings, commissioners were apparently swayed by public opinion that there were already too many outlets where alcoholic beverages can be obtained along that stretch of Pacific Coast Highway.
The appellant contends that the basis for denial on the grounds that there are a concentration of too many businesses selling alcohol for off-site consumption is not legal and cannot be implemented by the municipality. Planning staff disagrees.
In May 2007, an application was received by the planning department for a CUP for store use, which included a proposal to sell beer and wine as well as the interior remodel of the existing service station.
At that meeting, commissioners heard from homeowners, attorneys and others who protested the opening of another location for the sale of alcoholic beverages given the proximity of so many other outlets in the immediate area.
A second meeting was no different when some of that same group of critics came back to the commission to show opposition.
Critics have vowed to show up again at the upcoming hearing. “We are going to be there. We are not going to let them get away with this,” one critic said. “We will have another petition.”
The staff carried out a reevaluation of the new CUP application and “determined that onsite conditions, which led the planning commission to the aforementioned conclusion, have not changed since 2007.”
During his presentation before the commission, the applicant’s consultant Don Schmitz said they were willing to accept almost any conditions the commission or the public would want to impose for approval of the permit.
The applicant also unsuccessfully argued the sale of beer and wine “will be an incidental sale item to the nearly 5000 goods currently offered for sale at the market.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Draft Recreation Master Plan Offers Insight into Future Demographics

• Respondents to City of Malibu Request for Input Provide ‘Wish List’ Headed by Adult Activities

BY BILL KOENEKER

The preliminary draft of the City of Malibu’s 2012 Parks and Recreation Master Plan will be unveiled for public scrutiny at a special meeting at Malibu City Hall this Thursday, starting at 6:30 p.m. The one-hour presentation will be followed by time for questions by the public, according to a municipal announcement.
The master plan is described as a guide to the city’s policies on future parks. open space, and recreational facility needs.
“The master plan will help the city meet the needs of its current and future residents by sustaining and improving our community’s unique parks and recreation assets,” said Mayor Lou La Monte. “The focus on community input is a critical aspect in this plan.”
The preliminary master plan, according to city officials, is based on current information gathered through a series of public workshops, focus groups and stakeholder meetings.
From January 2012 to June. 2012, the consultants conducted such interactions. “All of this constituted the subjective input process that sought the respondents opinion for parks, facility and program needs and their vision for the future,” the report states.
The report lists four points that constitute the perceived strengths, such as staff was overwhelmingly the most appreciated aspect of the department’s offering.
Other positive qualities include the number of parks and quality maintenance of parks and facilities, the variety of program offerings for all ages, and the partnerships with other agencies.
The report also notes the consultants discovered perceived opportunities for improvement, including walking/biking trails, additional sports fields, a community center with indoor recreation spaces, meeting places and offerings for all ages year round and revenue generating and operationally sustainable facilities.
Other new programs, respondents said, could be offered including arts and theater, senior programs, ocean-based and unstructured programs. Respondents insisted there should be more marketing and promotions to eliminate issues with lack of awareness.
In addition, an indoor multi-purpose, multi-generational community recreation space, additional sports field space, development of more places like Malibu Bluffs Park and more programming utilizing ocean and beaches, were suggested.
NEEDS WISH LIST
The greatest facilities needs identified by respondents were biking trails and greenways (73 percent), small neighborhood parks (61 percent), small family picnic areas and shelters (51 percent), larger community parks and multi-generational community center (46 percent).
“Those surveyed responded that their needs were being met at a rate less than 50 percent as they relate to a multi-generational community center, walking/ biking trails and greenways, visual/performing arts facility, indoor swimming pool and community gardens,” the report states.
“It should also be noted that respondents selected walking, biking trails and greenways at the highest percentage as their first choice as the most important facility to their household,” the report goes on to state.
The highest recreation program needs cited by respondents are adult fitness and wellness programs (46 percent), community-wide special events ( 38 percent), visual and performing arts programs (35 percent) and environmental education programs (35 percent).
“The survey results indicate that adult fitness and wellness programs, senior programs, visual and performing arts programs and outdoor skills/adventure programs were the most important to those that responded, It should also be noted that adult fitness and wellness programs had the highest percentage of respondents select it as their first choice as the most important program to their households,” the report adds.
The key findings of the survey results, according to the report’s consultants:Visitation to parks, facilities and sports fields is at or slightly higher than average at 86 percent with average being 80 to 85 percent; Malibu Bluffs Park is ranked highest for general use. recreation programs and activity participation is above average at 35 percent (average is 30 percent); and special event participation is below average at 30 percent (average is over 40 percent).
Of those using parks and recreation facilities, 91 percent drive to those destinations. Only 20 percent of those respondents stated they would attend more programs if a shuttle was available.
Survey results indicate the most important actions the city could take to improve/expand parks and recreation facilities are to renovate/develop open space (44 percent), acquire land for open space and trails (28 percent) and acquire land for small neighborhood parks (23 percent).
Over half of households are either very satisfied (29 percent) or somewhat satisfied (22 percent), with the overall value they receive from city offerings. Only 12 percent of households are either somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.
The report also undertook a community profile and a demographic analysis utilizing data obtained from Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc, the largest research and development organization dedicated to Geographical Information Systems, according to the consultants, which specialize in population projections and market trends.
All the data was acquired in 2012 and reflects actual numbers, according to the consultants, as reported in the 2000 and 2010 census and estimates for 2015 as obtained by ESRI.
The City of Malibu geographic boundary was utilized as the demographic analysis boundary.
“The Malibu service area population has almost flat-lined with minimal growth over the last 10 years and very limited projected growth over the next 10-15 years,” the study reports.
GRAYING OF MALIBU
Overall, according to the research, the city exhibits an aging population trend. Currently, the highest segment by population is the 55 plus with 36.1 percent and the lowest is the 18-34 population with 15.2 percent, which indicates a large range of variation between all the age groups.
“In the next ten years, the 55 plus population will grow to comprise over 40 percent of the total population. The median age rose from 42.9 in 2000 to 47.8 in 2010,” the report states.
The report indicates the income characteristics showed a growth trend. The median household income was $102,031 in 2000 and is projected to continually increase to $154,327 by 2025. The per capita income is also projected to increase from $67,043 in 2010 to $80,346 by 2025.
“Malibu’s comparative income characteristics are significantly higher than the state and national income averages. By 2025, over 42 percent of the population is projected to make above $200,000,” the report adds.                                                                                                                                                                   
Described as a “citizen-driven plan,” the document is intended to establish clearer direction to city staff, advisory committees and elected officials in their efforts to enhance the community’s parks and recreation services and facilities, according to municipal officials.
The master plan will also be used “to determine immediate as well as long-range goals in establishing priorities and statements of direction based on research and documented facts.”
Twelve years ago, the city council approved a master plan. Since that time,                                                                                                              the city acquired Malibu Bluffs Park, Las Flores Creek Park and construction of Trancas Canyon Park and Legacy Park.