Malibu Surfside News

Malibu Surfside News - MALIBU'S COMMUNITY FORUM INTERNET EDITION - Malibu local news and Malibu Feature Stories

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

City Council Certifies CFD Election Resolution
•  Bonds Will Be Issued to Fund Construction Sewer Plant Design Phase

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council, at its meeting this week, on a 4-1 vote with Councilmember Skylar Peak dissenting, adopted a resolution certifying the results of the November 20, 2012 special tax and bond election for the Community Facilities District for the Malibu Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Plant Design Phase One.
Council members made no comments about the matter, nor did the public speak to the issue. Peak was mum about his lone dissenting vote.
The council voted on what will be known as Ordinance 371 authorizing the levy of a special tax within the CFD and direct staff to schedule a second reading and adoption of Ordinance 371 for the December 10 city council meeting.
Several months ago, the council, on a 4-1 vote with Peak dissenting, approved forming a Community Facilities District to levy special taxes on 15 properties that are within the CFD boundary for the Civic Center wastewater treatment plant design phase for the purpose “to issue bonded indebtedness.”
The city council’s apparent intention was 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.
According to Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman, the bonds that will be issued are a special obligation of the CFD and are payable and secured by a pledge of special taxes levied on property within the CFD.
“Neither the faith nor credit of the city is pledged or responsible for the repayment of the bonds,” wrote Feldman in a staff report, adding that the city will be responsible for paying consultant fees incurred in forming the CFD and submitting the special tax and bond measure to the voters in the CFD.
“The city will be responsible for the cost of the annual administration of the CFD, which is estimated not to exceed $10,000 a year. The cost for the annual administration will be reimbursed by the CFD to the city each year,” Feldman added.
The city has already spent $2.5 million to date for the Civic Center wastewater plant designs and does not plan on getting it all back.
”The net funding amount will enable the city to complete the design effort and allow the city to be reimbursed up to $1 million for funds that have already been expended.”
The city has “contributed” $2.5 million for the design to date and hopes it will be reimbursed for a portion of the costs incurred. The city's net “contribution” will be $1.5 million toward the design. “It is anticipated that the city parcels will be a part of the future assessment district,” Feldman wrote.
Currently, both city-owned land and county-owned parcels within the prohibition boundary are not included in the CFD since it is prohibited by state law.
Feldman indicated that a proposed assessment district is expected to be formed within the next 18 months to pay for the construction and design of the centralized wastewater system.
In the past, council members have asked when the city would get its money back and were told the $1 million invested by the city for design work already performed would come back when the bonds are sold.
Feldman indicated the exact amount of bonds to be issued will be determined based on bond market conditions at the time of sale. It is expected that bonds will be issued in late January 2013 in the principal amount not to exceed $6.5 million.
The maximum annual tax rate as proposed is $12,495.74 per acre for commercial property and $2,499.15 per acre for residential property. “These are the maximum rates that would support $6.5 million in bonds based on conservative interest rate assumptions,” the assistant manager noted.
Several different financial entities could be utilized for the CFD bonds to be taken out with proceeds from a future assessment district consisting of all the property in phase one. “Either structure assumes takeout financing by a larger assessment district that would refund the CFD bonds and pay for the construction of the treatment plant,” Feldman added.
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.
Beginning with fiscal year 2012-2013 and for each following fiscal year, the special tax will 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. 
Each landowner within the CFD was entitled to cast one vote for each acre of land or portion owned within the 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.
Feldman said the CFD would not attempt to collect the tax payments until after a benefits assessment district could be formed.

Malibu Passes Broad Beach Permit Processing on to Coastal Agency
•  Members Entrust State Agencies with Oversight

BY BILL KOENEKER 

The Malibu City Council this week approved processing  a consolidated coastal permit by the California Coastal Com?mission for the Broad Beach restoration project.
Council members were told the city had 17.7 percent of the project within the city limits
A planner explained to the council that the Coastal Commission said it will process the permit on its own even if the city processed its permit. The staff recommended the matter should be consolidated,
City Attorney Christi Hogin said the city was not really being asked to give up any decision-making.
“Does it make any sense for the city? It is almost a waste of your time,” Hogin said.
However, Malibu resident Hans Laetz, whose home is in the vicinity of the project, said the council might find itself in another political situation like when activists were demanding it take a stand on the issues involved in Malibu Lagoon and take action.
“The project has changed. They are talking about a buffer zone. The city should have a say in this. The City of Malibu can be an equal partner,” Laetz said.
Ken Erlich, the attorney who represents the Broad Beach Geological Hazard Abatement District, said, “I agree with everything the city attorney said. There will be multiple hearings. Everything is transparent.”
Council members expressed comfort that the biggest issue for Malibuites would be public access and the CCC would be ever watchful of that.
“I feel comfortable with the Coastal Commission and coastal [public] access,” said Councilmember Laura Rosenthal.
 A leasing arrangement must go before the California State Lands Commission, whose staff anticipates that the project may be considered at a scheduled meeting of the commission in early 2013.
The commission staff met recently at Malibu City Hall. The hearing was about the staff's analysis of the restoration project, proposed by the Broad Beach GHAD, which is the project applicant representing 114 homes, spanning from Lechuza Point to Trancas Creek.
If the applicant’s request is authorized, the commission “would allow the Broad Beach GHAD to implement a shoreline protection plan along Broad Beach for a period of up to 20 years.”
Some environmental groups want more information on how the project could impact the surf and wildlife.
Representatives from Heal the Bay, Surfrider Foundation and others want more details on the project.
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 Las Posas Road and Hueneme Road and transport the sand by truck via Highway 1 to Broad Beach.
A reservoir of sand will be built to restore the dune habitat with native plant species.
The beach itself would be widened to provide enhanced public access and recreational opportunities along Broad Beach.
“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,” CSLC report states.
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.
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.

Municipal Officials Say That They Have Worked Out Issues with Food Trucks on PCH

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council agreed this week not to impose additional regulations on mobile vendors and mobile billboard displays and take a wait-and-see approach after they were told by the staff law enforcement had already taken action.
It appears the food trucks and mobile billboards diminished their presence during the last two weeks after they were given courtesy warnings about the illegality of doing business along a state highway.
The usual haunt along the stretch of Pacific Coast Highway between Heathercliff and Portshead, which became a focal point for critics, has now become, for the most part, a cleared, empty shoulder along PCH.
The staff was asked to bring back a report to give the council an overview of the issues as well as the options for enforcement possibilities.
As city officials have found out from some of their constituency and witnessed themselves, both the food trucks and mobile billboard displays had been operating in various forms throughout the city.
Associate Planner Joseph Smith told council members state codes have been identified that allow the city to enforce no mobile vending or billboards along Pacific Coast Highway.
City Manager Jim Thorsen explained that the sheriff's department has provided courtesy no?tices to vendors after City Attorney Christi Hogin's office found the state ordinance.
“It appears the problems have been dealt with using the existing ordinances. We hope the problems are resolved in the next 30-60 days,” the city manager said.
Hogin said other cities are taking the lead passing several new ordinances that are already being tested legally in court.
“Let's give it six months,” she said.
Planning Director Joyce Parker Bozylinski said the department is undertaking a complete rewrite of the city's sign ordinance, which will direct some of its attention to signs on private property in yards and along streets.
She said currently planners and other city officials have the power to issue citations for illegal signs. “We have a citation program to encourage compliance,” she said.
Councilmember Joan House wanted to know about the transfer of sewage from one truck to another, which takes place along PCH and other roadways. “That  is not permitted? I thought you could not do that?” she asked.
Thorsen said it is not addressed by the codes. “That is another item. It is coming up for addressing septic transfer,” he said.
Councilmember John Sibert said he could fully endorse the staff's approach, especially if city officials could find ways to address the matter without passing more laws.
“There is a huge change already. But that septic transfer, that occurs regularly three to four times a day. That is going to be addressed separately,” he said.
Councilmember Skylar Peak said he wanted to see how the matter works out.
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal wanted to know if there were ways to deal with the issue doing “something besides code enforcement.”
Rosenthal had also asked the questions about the city’s sign ordinance and any upcoming changes.
Mayor Lou La Monte said he wanted the staff to address the vertical banners that have proliferated throughout the city.

County Sups Approve Malibu Water Rate Hike
•  Limited Protest Attributed to Mechanics of Objection Process

BY BILL KOENEKER

To no one’s surprise, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, acting as the governing body of the water district, voted this week to approve the proposed water rate hikes recommended for Los Angeles County Waterworks District 29, which includes Malibu and Topanga.
The supervisors were told there were 169 protest letters from the 7700 ratepayers, who will be impacted by the fee increases.
Malibu resident Allison Ray, who attended the hearing, said, “I am equally disappointed in the home owners who were aware of the potential increase and how to oppose it, but did not write a letter of protest.”
Ray said she told the supervisors there was not fair notice about how the rate hike could be prevented and she was disappointed that they did not care that “insufficient notice was provided to the homeowners.”
Malibu resident Joan Lavine also attended to register her protest, “I complained the notice itself was flawed. It provided no proposal, budget or what specifically they were going to spend the money on.”
At the public hearing, the supervisors were expected to consider all protests against the proposed fee. Protesters needed a 51 percent majority to defeat the rate increase.
If written protests against the fee are presented by a majority of owners of parcels receiving service, the waterworks district will not impose the fee, according to the ratepayer letter.
Some customers have expressed frustration with how the county measures citizen approval or disapproval.
“They make it as difficult as possible because everyone has to write a letter protesting the increase to make a 51 percent majority against the fee, not for it,” said one irate ratepayer.
Written protests must have been submitted to the board by a majority of owners of parcels.
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 the 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 $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 bi-monthly bill would increase from $398.17 in 2012 to $514.99 by 2017.

Coastal Conservancy Considers Funding of Plan for Access at Existing Locations within City Boundaries
• State Agency May Allocate Up to $470,000 for the Effort

BY ANNE SOBLE

The California Coastal Conservancy is scheduled to consider action next week to spend close to a half million dollars to fund preparation of a Malibu Coastal Access Public Works Plan by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority for a dozen access sites located in the City of Malibu.
Funded primarily by voter-approved general obligation bonds, the Coastal Conservancy, established in 1976, is a state agency that seeks to “purchase, protect, restore, and enhance coastal resources, and to provide access to the shore” in partnership with local governments, other public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private landowners.
Possible Conservancy authorization to disburse up to $470,000 to the MRCA to prepare a Malibu Coastal Access Public Works Plan for the specific sites in the city is item number 10 on the agenda for Thursday, Dec. 6, at 9 a.m. in the Port San Luis Harbor District Coastal Gateway Building at 3900 Avila Beach Drive in Avila Beach.
The specific locations along the city coastline earmarked for inclusion in the plan are:
(A) Las Tunas Beach: 19016 Pacific Coast Highway; fee owner Harner; deed restriction in favor of public access; 19020 PCH; fee owner: Hundley; public access easement owner: MRCA.
(B) Las Tunas Beach: no street address: Los Angeles County Assessor Parcel Nos: 4449-007-013, -014, -015, -016 and -017; fee owner: MRCA.
(C) Las Flores Beach: 20802 PCH; fee owner: Lent; public access easement owner: State of California for benefit of the Conservancy.
(D) La Costa Beach: 21554 PCH; fee owner: Wayne; deed restriction in favor of public access.
(E) La Costa Beach: 21664 PCH; fee owner Conservancy.
(F) Carbon Beach: 22030 PCH; fee owner Pozzo/Keith; deed restriction in favor of public access.
(G) Carbon Beach: 22466 PCH; fee owner: Ackerberg; public access easement owner: MRCA.
(H) Malibu Cove Beach: 26834 Malibu Cove Colony Road; fee owner: Toberman; deed re?striction in favor of public access.
(I) Escondido Beach: 27400 PCH (aka “Geoffrey’s Restaurant”); fee owner: Holiday House, LLC and 27348 PCH; fee owner Finer Space Malibu LLC; vertical public access easement owner: MRCA. (Easement begins at Geoffrey’s Restaurant, passes across Escondido Beach Road (private street) and continues over 27348 Pacific Coast Highway (residential parcel on the beach).
(J) Escondido Beach: 27700 PCH; fee owner Dick Clark; deed restriction in favor of public access;
(K) Escondido Beach: 27910 PCH; fee owner: Wildman; parking access easement owner: Conservancy; also at adjacent property 27920 PCH; fee owner: Mancuso; vertical public access easement owner: Conservancy.
(L) Lechuza Beach: no street addresses available for Los Angeles County Assessor Parcel Nos (APNs): 4470-021-900; 4470-028-900 through 918; 4470-001-900, 4470-024-900, 901: fee owner for public access: MRCA; easements over West Sea Level Drive and East Sea Level Drive, APNs 4470-021-008, 009; easement owner: MRCA; APNs 4470-001-003, 004, 005,006, 008, 012, 013; lateral beach access easement owner: MRCA; and 31736 Broad Beach Road; fee owner: Barbara J. Page, trustee; vertical public access easement owner: Conservancy.
At the Dec. 6 meeting, the members of the panel also are expected to confer in closed session regarding the Malibu access controversy involving Lisette Ackerberg in Ackerberg v. California Coastal Commission, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BS122006, and related litigation, including Access for All v. Ackerberg, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC405058.
They will also review Malibu-Encinal Homeowners Association v. Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, et al, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BS 431798.

Edison Spokesperson Taken to Task on Recent Power Outages
• Some Events Described as Unavoidable

BY BILL KOENEKER

Southern California Edison Regional Manager Mark Olson came to the Malibu City Council chambers this week at the behest of council members to explain the details of the power outage several weeks ago that left 4000 customers in the dark.
Olson said the city is primarily served by six 16 kV distribution circuits, which are energized by two distribution substations. For se?curity reasons he declined to specify exactly where those substations are located.
The SCE representative added that some small sections of the Malibu load are served by three more 16 kV distribution circuits energized by two other distribution substations.
During the past six months, there have been a total of six outages, the most serious being the Nov. 10 outage when a tree fell through the line and impacted both circuits.
Many events are beyond SCE’s control, according to Olson, who said the November outage was one of those events.
The wind was blowing, a tree across the street from the line fell over at the same time Edison was doing work on one of the circuits that was down for repairs.
Olson talked about the power interruptions on Nov. 21 and what actually happens
“Around 11:19 a.m. the breaker at circuit four opened due to a fault. All of the load on circuits four, five and partial six was in?terrupted. Immediately the distribution control center started switching through remote control switches to isolate the fault and re-energize the rest of the load.
“The entire load on circuit four was re-energized after 11 minutes from initial interruption. The en?tire load on circuit six was re-energized after 34 minutes from initial interruption. Approxi?mate?ly 93 percent of the load of circuit five was re-energized after 85 minutes from initial interruption. The remaining seven percent of he load of circuit five had to stay de-energized so the crews could complete repairs of the failed underground switch,” he said.
“There was an ongoing maintenance of substation equipment and 66 kV line serving the Tapia substation. All of the Tapia substation load was carried through other distribution circuits,” said Olson, who added, “Around 2:52 a.m. a car hit the pole on Malibu canyon and required a manual load interruption to clear the area and complete repairs. Due to abnormal circuit conditions and to avoid circuit overloads, the interrupted load remained off while crews were completing repairs.”
He acknowledged Malibu with its animals contacting lines, wind and rain storms and brush covered hills and more vegetation than urban areas can offer a more challenging playing field.
The SCE spokesperson went through a laundry list of improvements recently completed by SCE and also planned improvement projects over the next several years.
Mayor Lou La Monte asked about undergrounding utilities in all of Malibu. “Un?dergrounding is very expensive. You could underground Malibu, but the cost would be prohibitive. Most undergrounding is considered a luxury. It is usually budgeted at $5 million per mile,” Olson said.
Olson also explained to council members that all leaning poles are not a problem. “If there is a doubt, we will look at it,” he said.

Publisher’s Notebook
• Pied Pipering the Past •

BY ANNE SOBLE

There have been dozens of obituaries acknowledging the death of former longtime Malibuite and iconoclastic entertainment icon Larry Hagman.  
Hagman cultivated outrageousness as an art form, even when he gave free rein to its destructive side. His eccentricity was able to take many forms from the spontaneous to the contrived. He effortlessly could commandeer the actions of a small crowd or hone in on an unsuspecting individual to disarm or shock.
Some of us in Malibu who have had the opportunity—most often pleasurable, occasionally puzzling, and, once in a while, downright strange—of chatting with Hagman, or the Larry Hagman that we perceived at that point in time, have been exchanging recollections. 
Having listened during the week to dozens of loosely interwoven vignettes that may or may not reflect who the real Larry Hagman was, I was struck by the childlike wonder that often permeates the oft colorful tales.
Not all of those stories can be shared in a family newspaper, not because they are objectionable, but because they don’t translate well onto the two-dimensional page. Many recollections are of the “you-had-to-be-there” variety, such as an hour-long monologue on saving the planet or discussion of a mind-altering experience premised on better living through chemistry.
Hagman’s collections of hats and flags reflected the childlike enthusiasm he brought to everything. Even when he became the face of an anti-smoking campaign and carried a battery-operated handheld fan to blow cigarette smoke back at the smoker, there was a playfulness to the serious message.
A description often applied to Hagman when he lived in the Malibu Colony was community Pied Piper. This might involve leading an impromptu parade down the length of the sand, wearing bizarre and colorful garb that might have originated with his beloved wife Maj’s creative talents, or wandering long gone mid-Malibu haunts, enthusiastically expounding on his solutions for the world’s woes—sometimes accompanied by biker buddy Peter Fonda—with anyone who would listen.
Hagman cared about the environment. This writer last visited the Hagmans’ spectacular home in Ojai—before Maj became ill—when they hosted a local environmental fundraiser. The Hagmans supported organizations and political candidates that shared their environmental and social concerns. The voices of people eager to make a difference resonated in the expansive house that appeared to emerge from crevices in the terrain.
The unbridled enthusiasm that fueled Hagman’s experimentation with all that life offered was regularly counterbalanced by a need for silence. While others might opt to spend sound-free time in solitude, Hagman’s silent spells were public theater at its best. 
The Hagmans’ exodus from Malibu in the ’90s coincided with what some describe as the beginning of major changes in the community. Ensconced in his new mountaintop retreat, Hagman said the Malibu he knew was a haven for the idiosyncratic, if not the downright eccentric, and he hoped it always would be.

School District Seeks New Hearing for Its Malibu High Campus Plans
• Officials Seek Noticed Hearing by Panel

BY BILL KOENEKER

Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District officials ap?parently unhappy with the Mal??ibu Planning Commission de?cision on what they would ap?prove for remodeling the high school campus want to delay the tentative approval of the make?over plan until next year and in?stead of the limited public hearing for the consent item, have the commission conduct a new fully noticed public hearing.
The matter will be discussed at the planning commission’s hearing next week when it comes be?fore the panel as a consent item.
The planning staff recommendation is to continue the item, at the request of the applicant, to the Feb. 19, 2013 regular planning commission meeting as a new public hearing.
City Attorney Christi Hogin said, “If something comes up the planning commission wants to talk about, they can’t do it as a consent calendar item.”
The city attorney said the school district is asking the city’s permission and there is no legal reason that they can’t get that.
“There is no final action. From the city’s point of view, there is no hurry, It will even give the opponents another chance to speak,” she said.
The planning commission several weeks ago considered the ap?plication from the school district to redevelop portions of the Mal?ibu Middle and High School campus.
Making its decision after the midnight hour, the planning panel directed the staff to bring back an amended resolution approving the coastal permit, Conditional Use Permit and various other en?titlements, including a demolition permit to redevelop portions of the campus with a new classroom/library/administration build?ing totaling 20,274 square feet of net new building area and ap?proximately 12,509 square feet  of interior renovation and mod?er?n?ization of existing classrooms.
In a somewhat unusual move, that resolution never came back to the planning panel.
An Environmental Impact Re?port, which was approved by the school district, prepared for the proposal acknowledges that the project would not be able to avoid adverse impacts related to in?creased sky-glow.
After hours of public comment and commission deliberations, the planning panel approved a re?configured 119-space lighted parking lot with an onsite roundabout, a reconfigured 61-space lighted parking lot, but a majority of the commissioners insisted a new 150-space parking lot should remain unlit.
Many public comments endorsed the staff recommendation about the re?duced lighting.
Some parents called foul saying the plans for the campus had been thought out for years by various committees and it was not fair to fiddle with the design so late in the pro?cess.
District officials reiterated their concern and told commissioners they were also bound by code and safety requirements. The big issue, commissioners were told, is the parking lot lighting and walkway lighting.
That the standards are not established by the district but are adopted by other agencies—the district has safety and liability standards. A school campus requires a certain kind of lighting, according to district officials.
After hours of questions and deliberations, the commission approved the staff recommendation of the unlit parking lot, some traffic changes and for two new unlit tennis courts, new outdoor common areas, new fencing, landscaping and grading, relocated equestrian trail, upgrades to the onsite wastewater treatment system and drainage and renovation of existing infrastructure.
The CUP is for operation of a public educational institution and the expansion of more than 500 square feet in that zone.
Variances were successfully sought for grading in excess of 1000 cubic yards, and constructing structures on 2.5 to one slopes and impermeable coverage over 25,000 square feet.
The school district, which is the lead agency, issued a Draft En?viron?mental Im?pact Report last fall.
The DEIR describes the project as  approximately 76,694 square feet of new construction, some of it replacement building since 15,041 square feet of old buildings are earmarked for demolition while other buildings will be upgraded or renovated.

Malibu’s Community Nativity Scene Has History Complete with Miracle
• Local Creche and Caroling Continues to Provide Sense of Small Town Traditionalism in Changing World

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


On Saturday, Dec. 1, the familiar Malibu Community Creche will be installed at the corner of PCH and Webb Way, just in time for the first Sunday of Advent, when residents of many different religious backgrounds will gather there from all parts of Malibu to sing “Christmas carols, be inspired, join the camaraderie and enjoy refreshments,” in the words of event volunteer Elizabeth Smith.
For almost 50 years the stable with its hand-carved wooden nativity scene has been a Malibu holiday tradition.
In 1963, Malibu resident Mary Kuepper came up with the idea of setting up a community Christmas display. “I wanted to have some Christmas spirit,” Kuepper told the Malibu Surfside News in a 1993 interview.
With the help of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, a Christmas tree and holiday sign featuring the Madonna and infant Jesus were installed on the corner of PCH and Webb Way.
In 1964, the Chamber encouraged Malibu’s five churches—Shepherd by the Sea Lutheran, Malibu United Methodist, Malibu Presbyterian, Our Lady of Malibu Catholic Church and Saint Aidan’s Episcopal Church—to put together Malibu’s first community nativity scene. The original creche was rented. It took several years before there were sufficient donations to purchase the almost life-sized figures that have become part of Malibu tradition.
Kuepper named the group of volunteers “Keep Christ in Christmas,” as a statement of support for the spiritual aspect of a holiday that, even in the 1960s, was viewed as becoming too commercial and materialistic.
The display has faced numerous challenges. The nativity figures were stored at the Serra Retreat during the September 1970 Chatsworth-Malibu fire that killed 10 people, burned 500,000 acres and 400 homes—175 in Malibu. Most of the Serra Retreat buildings were destroyed. The creche figures were retrieved from among the ashes and debris relatively undamaged.
Santa Anas, clocked at more than 80 mph, flatted the second creche structure.
The third creche was built with help from the Malibu Optimist Club. It now travels to and from storage on a trailer that was donated for the purpose, making it easier for volunteers to set up.
Several of the hand-carved European wood sculptures have been stolen over the years. Baby Jesus was the first target of thieves. The original figure was not secured. It was removed on Dec. 26, 1980.
Reports indicate that an unspecified “obscene” note was left at the scene. The case was never solved. The original angel was stolen on Dec. 30, 1986, and never recovered, although one witness claims to have seen it years later decorating the wall of a Los Angeles residence. Its replacement was removed in 1992.
Due to the weight of the sculpture, sheriff’s detectives surmised that the theft must have required the effort of two or more people.
A lamb stolen on Dec. 21, 2001 turned up two days later balanced on top of a Malibu Cove Colony mailbox. The sheep’s feet, which had been bolted to the floor of the creche, were broken off. The figure, valued at $7000, required extensive repairs.
Baby Jesus went missing for a second time in 2007, but was also recovered, although badly damaged.
A week before Christmas in 2008, the second sheep, valued at about $10,000, was stolen. It was never recovered.
Added security was installed in 2011. KCIC members had to reach a compromise between maintaining the openness of the Malibu manger scene, and securing the sculptures, which have become increasingly valuable.
According to KCIC lore, the original sculptures for the creche was carved over four decades ago in the tiny Tyrolean village of Ortezay, or Urtijei, at the base of the Alps.
Highly respected Italian artist Goffredo Moroder is said to have supervised the first carvings, which are considered to be on a par with work done for major cathedrals.
Each of the figures was carved from a solid block of larch, a deciduous conifer native to the European Alps that is prized for its knot-free, close-grained and durable wood.
When the carving was complete, the sculptures were hand-painted, using techniques that have changed little since medieval times and require multiple layers of hand-applied stains, paints and gold leaf.
Jackie Sutton, who has participated in KCIC from its inception and currently serves as the group’s president, told The News that the figures are in need of costly restoration. Damage from wind, rain and salt air has taken its toll on the sculptures, which require care specialists in the field of art restoration.
“We used to be supported by the service organizations,” Sutton said, “but not anymore. “We don’t get a dime from organizations. We depend on contributions from individuals now. Most of our budget goes to maintain the creche, but it’s worth it.”
At one time, the festivities included a Las Posada pageant, complete with live animals and a full cast of re-enactors in costume.
The pageant is history, but caroling at the creche continues to be a holiday tradition. An essay-writing and art competition also continue to be part of KCIC tradition. This year’s theme is expected to be announced later this week.
Community caroling is scheduled for 3 p.m. on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Refreshments will be served after the caroling.
“It’s a chance to see old friends and meet some new ones,” Sutton said. “Everyone is invited to participate. The bigger the better.”
Anyone who wishes to make a tax-deductible donation can contact the group at P.O. Box 833, Malibu, CA 90265-0833.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Measure W: Civic Center Community Facilities District Tax Approved by Landowners

• Proposal for Levy  Receives Votes Needed to Move Forward

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council, at its meeting next week, is scheduled to adopt a resolution certifying the results of the November 20, 2012 special tax and bond election for the Community Facilities District for the Malibu Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Plant Design Phase One—Measure W.
The voting concluded on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 5 p.m., whereupon the city clerk’s office counted the ballots. Malibu City Clerk Lisa Pope announced that the measure passed.
Next Monday, the council will vote on what will be known as Ordinance 371, authorizing the levy of a special tax within the CFD and direct staff to schedule a second reading and adoption of Ordinance 371 for the Dec. 10 city council meeting.
Several months ago, the council, on a 4-1 vote with Councilmember Skylar Peak dissenting, approved forming a community facilities district to levy special taxes on 15 properties that are within the CFD boundary for the Civic Center wastewater treatment plant design phase for the purpose “to issue bonded indebtedness.”
The city council’s apparent intention was 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.
At that time, Pope said she had received no protests and except for one public speaker no one came to council chambers to protest.
Peak did not explain his dissenting vote and when it was his turn to speak would only say, “no comment.”
Apparently to set the record straight, City Attorney Christi Hogin spoke first before council comments.
“How did we get here? 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,” she said.
“This has nothing to do with growth inducing. How much can be built is governed by the General Plan and the Local Coastal Program.”
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.
Then Councilmember Lou 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 said, “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, “It is important the city not invest its own money in this. This is not growth inducing.”
Then Mayor Laura Rosenthal 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 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 will be $19,707.33 per acre and for each assessor’s parcel of residential property shall be $3941.47 per acre, according to the public notice. Beginning with fiscal year 2012-2013 and for each following fiscal year, the special tax will be levied in equal percentages on each assessor’s parcel, up to the applicable maximum special tax, the document states.
The maximum special tax shall not be levied after fiscal year 2052-2053. 
Each landowner within the CFD was entitled to cast one vote for each acre of land or portion owned within the 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 tax could be levied by Dec. 10. The bond sale can occur in January, according to municipal officials.
Feldman said the CFD would not attempt to collect the tax payments until after a benefits assessment district could be formed.
Neither city, nor county, land can be included in a CFD, according to state law.

Airing of Mobile Vendor Complaints May Have Altered Truck Behavior

• Malibu City Council Looks at Issues Next Week

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council postponed a scheduled hearing last week on whether to consider additional regulations on mobile vendors and mobile billboard displays due to the late hour.
The matter has been continued until the council’s regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 26.
It appears the food trucks and mobile billboards may have diminished their presence during the last two weeks or are keeping a low profile.
The usual haunt along the stretch of Pacific Coast Highway between Heathercliff and Portshead, which became a focal point for Point Dume critics of food trucks, has now become, for the most part, a clear, empty shoulder.
The city staff was asked to bring back a report to give the council an overview of the issues as well as the options for enforcement possibilities.
As city officials have found out from some of their constituents and witnessed themselves, both the food trucks and mobile billboard displays have been operating in various forms throughout the city.
“Recently, staff has observed an increase in activity from these uses and received several nuisance and safety complaints from the public,” wrote Associate Planner Joseph Smith, in a report to the council.
Smith is expected to tell council members that in Malibu, mobile vending remains largely unregulated by the city’s municipal code provisions, but state codes have been identified that appear to allow the city to enforce mobile vending curbs along Pacific Coast Highway.
The state code reads, “Any vehicle or structure parked or placed wholly or partly within any state highway, for the purpose of selling the same or of selling any article, service or thing, is a public nuisance and the department may immediately remove that vehicle or structure from within any highway.
“The California Highway Patrol and all peace officers from local law enforcement agencies may enforce the provisions of chapter.”
An altogether different issue, but lumped together by municipal officials, is mobile billboard displays, which are regulated by the city’s municipal code provisions, opportunities for improved regulation and enforcement are available given recent state legislation, according to the planner.
“Further discussion of these uses, including areas of concern for mobile vendors and mobile billboard displays are listed in the report, including examples of other city regulations and options for enforcement.
The planning staff has observed three types of mobile vendor operations occurring in the same area for longer periods of time than is typical of traditional vending activities, such as a catering trucks serving construction workers at a work site for 30 minutes, then moving on.
Planners cite traffic issues, including the potential for visual distraction, as concerns pertaining to both types of roadside activity,  adding that food trucks also raise issues of sanitation, odor, noise, aesthetics, hours of operation, and city liability.

Customers Have Less than a Week to Object to County Water Rate Hikes

• Waterworks District Fees Have Convoluted Approval Process

BY BILL KOENEKER

Customers who object to rate increases sought by Los Angeles County Waterworks District 29, have to either write to the water district or appear in person before the county Board of Supervisors, to voice disapproval of the new charges and try to prevent. their implementation.
The supervisors act as the governing body of the water district for the consideration of water rate hikes recommended for the district that provides service to Malibu and Topanga.
Written objections must be received prior to the conclusion of the board’s public hearing, according to a letter sent to ratepayers, who may send comments or protests to Los Angeles County Waterworks District No. 29, 900 South Fremont Avenue, Alhambra, CA 91803.
Rate increase action is scheduled for the regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 9:30 a.m. in the board of supervisors hearing room, Room 381B, in the Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple Street in downtown Los Angeles.
At the public hearing, the supervisors will consider all protests against the proposed fee. If written protests against the fee are presented by a majority of owners of parcels receiving service, the waterworks district will not impose the fee, according to the ratepayer letter.
Some District 29 customers have expressed frustration on how the county measures citizen approval or disapproval of a rate hike proposal.
“They make it as difficult as possible because everyone has to write a letter protesting the increase to make a 51 percent majority against the fee, not for it” said one irate ratepayer.
Written protests must be submitted to the board by a majority of owners of parcels.
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 the 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 another $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 bi-monthly bill would increase from $398 in 2012 to $515 by 2017.
A public notice states that additional information on the water rates, the proposed increase or for any other information regarding this matter, is available by contacting 626-300-3331.

Malibu Courthouse Set to Close Due to Ongoing County Budget Deficit

• 10 Facilities Are Set to Close or Reduce Services

Los Angeles County Superior Court will stop hearing cases in 10 courthouses, including Malibu, and close down a dozen criminal courtrooms in an effort to deal with a deficit that some say could reach $80 million.
Some of the courthouses may stay open for limited functions, such as settlement meetings or court filings, but trials and hearings will be moved elsewhere, according to Presiding Judge Lee Smalley Edmon, who made the announcement last week.
A Malibu attorney who wished to remain nameless said, “We have a lot of court business. I was in court this afternoon. The courtroom was filled with people. People in the Malibu area are going to suffer from having to travel long distances to go to court. I wonder if our city council will do anything to fight the closure.”
Edmon acknowledged that the courts had originally been set up as a neighborhood court system, but that projected budget cuts will not allow that level of service anymore.
Plans also are in the works to limit the number of courthouses that hear specific types of cases.
Small claims cases now heard in 26 courtrooms will be heard in six courtrooms. Courthouses that handle landlord-tenant disputes will be heard not in the current 26 courts, but in just five. There are 24 courthouses that currently hear collections cases, they will drop to two.
The other courthouses planned for closure include Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona North, south Los Angeles, San Pedro (the main courthouse and Beacon Street annex), and Catalina.

Comment Period for Broad Beach Project Is Extended

•  State Lands Commission Postpones Taking Action on Item Until 2013

BY BILL KOENEKER

The comment period for the proposed Broad Beach Restoration Project has been extended by the California State Lands Commission staff until Friday, Dec. 21. All written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Dec. 21, according to the state agency’s website.
The comment period has been extended, according to the staff, because the commission will not be considering or taking action at the Dec. 5 meeting and because some of the public requested additional time to submit comments on the staff's analysis in a report called Impacts to Public Trust Resources and Values.
Written comments on the APTR should be sent to Jason Ramos, c/o California State Lands Commission, 100 Howe Ave., Suite 100-South, Sacramento, CA 95825 or emailed to Jason.Ramos@slc.ca.gov.
“You are encouraged to submit electronic copies of your written comments. If written comments are submitted via email, please write the following in the subject line of your email: Broad Beach Restoration Project Comments,” the public notice states.
The CSLC staff anticipates that the project may be considered at a scheduled meeting of the commission in early 2013. The specific time and location will be posted on the state agency's website at www.slc.ca.gov. when specific meeting information becomes available. The document may also be viewed electronically, in PDF format, on the website also.
The commission staff met recently at Malibu City Hall. The hearing was about the staff's analysis of the restoration project, proposed by the Broad Beach Geological Hazard Abatement District, which is the project applicant representing 114 homes, spanning from Lechuza Point to Trancas Creek.
If the applicant’s request is authorized, the commission “would allow the Broad Beach GHAD to implement a shoreline protection plan along Broad Beach for a period of up to 20 years, consisting of 1) initial beach nourishment; 2) dune creation and habitat restoration; 3) annual or biannual sand ‘backpassing’ to prolong nourishment; 4) authorizing the existing rock revetment buried under restored dunes and 5) one additional major renourishment event.
Some environmental groups wanted more information on how the project could impact the surf and wildlife.
Representatives from Heal the Bay, Surfrider Foundation and others wanted more details on the project.
The beach nourishment comes from dredging fine-grained sand from offshore of Broad Beach and transport of sand via slurry pipeline for discharge into training dikes and placement within the boundaries of the restored dune area, burying the existing revetment.
“The applicant has identified central Trancas offshore of Broad Beach as the site best suited for a fine-grained, dune renourishment sand source site. Dune sand would be dredged from an existing deposit of fine-grained sand located in a water depth range between 45 and 60 feet, approximately 0.25 mile offshore of the eastern segment of Broad Beach and Trancas Creek.
This existing sediment deposit stretches from approximately 3.4 mile along the coast from Lechuza Point east to Point Dume is roughly one mile wide,” the commission report states.
Just this week the commission staff was notified that the GHAD is no longer considering using sand from offshore of Manhattan Beach, whose city council had opposed any kind of dredging operations.
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 Las Posas Road and Hueneme Road and transport the sand by truck via Highway 1 to Broad Beach.”
A reservoir of sand will be built to restore the dune habitat with native plant species.
The beach itself would be widened to provide enhanced public access and recreational opportunities along Broad Beach.
“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.
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.

Malibu Road Residents Oppose Plan for Skatepark at Bluffs Park

• Council Approves Project Design Agreement

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council was poised to approve an agreement for professional design services for the Malibu Bluffs Park Skatepark when Malibu Road residents appeared before the council to urge them to consider another location.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Director Bob Stallings had told the council that Bluffs Park is still the most feasible location, but the city must still determine if the site itself is feasible.
“We are working simultaneously on a temporary park and a permanent park,” he said.
Then a contingent of road residents, who had previously not been heard from in council chambers, urged the council to find a different location saying there was no reason to believe Bluffs Park was the best location.
Malibu Road resident Lynn Konheim said he was strongly opposed to the location. “We are not opposed to a skatepark. Most of the teens are in West Malibu. Using the $38,000 for the [design] study is fiscally imprudent. The Bluffs are for passive recreation. It is inconsistent with the [city’s] recreation master plan,” he said.
Others including the president of the Malibu Road Homeowners Association said there had been no noise study done, that a report should be completed to first see if the site is viable, there was concern expressed about illegal use of the park during after hours and the emergency access component of Bluffs Park could be lost.
The council shifted discussion about the design study in front of them and began to talk about sites.
Stallings spelled out why the city eventually settled on the Bluffs Park; given it is city-owned property, there is no other park where a site is suitable, high school officials were not interested in a skatepark on school district property
“This has turned out to be the best location,” said Councilmember Skylar Peak. “The time is now. The sound can be directed [away from Malibu Road]. Bluffs Park is close to emergency medical services. There is no question there is a need for this. Malibu Road [residents] have valid concerns, but they can be addressed.”
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal said the city could easily be persuaded to consider another site, if someone wanted to donate property for a skatepark. “We are looking for land,” she said.
Councilmember Joan House asked if there was any possibility of another site.
Stallings said yes.
At that point, Mayor Lou La Monte sought a vote on the matter and the council unanimously approved the design contract.
The design service contract will not exceed $38,299 to Wormhoudt, Inc. who was chosen from the 10 design firms, which submitted responses.
The request for proposal was released at the beginning of this year and included tasks for site analysis, community outreach, conceptual design, schematic design, final design development, cost estimates and final construction documents.
In June, 2012 the council decided there had not been enough community input and discussed options for including more members of the public.
Subsequently, the council directed the staff to reject all proposals, re-issue the RFP for design services and include up to three members of the community to serve as advisors throughout the selection process, according to a staff report.
The Skatepark Ad Hoc Committee comprised of Councilmembers Joan House and Skylar Peak met in the end of August and at the direction of the council appointed three community members to serve as advisors in selecting a skatepark design firm. Of the six applicants, Justin Kell, Walter Lohr and Hamish Patterson were appointed to advise the city on selecting a design consultant, according to city officials.
The proposals were reviewed by qualified city staff and the advisory group appointed by the skatepark ad hoc committee. Using the evaluation criteria as outlined in the RFP, the proposals were scored and ranked by the six-member review team.
“Of the 10 design firms submitting proposals, the top four were invited to interview last month. The firms interviewed were ASD, California Skateparks, Wormhoudt Inc., and Wally Hollyday Skateparks, which incidentally were the same four firms that were previously interviewed,” wrote Bob Stallings, Parks and Recreation Director.
“Based on the proposal submitted by Wormhoudt, Inc. their interview, and reference checks, staff recommends the city council authorize the city manager to execute a professional services agreement with Wormhoudt, Inc. in an amount not to exceed $38,200. The citizen advisory committee and city staff ranked Wormhoudt, Inc. as the best consultant to perform the work. Wormhoudt was also the highest ranked consultant at the time city staff interviewed companies back in May of this year.” Stallings added.

City Council Adopts Mentawai Islands as ‘Sister Surf Paradise’ in Partnership with Surf Group

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council last week unanimously adopted the Mentawai Islands, off West Sumatra, Indonesia as the municipality’s “sister surf paradise.”
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal said the city was not looking for sister city status, but would approve of a partnership with SurfAid International to support and promote the organization’s humanitarian efforts in the islands.
City officials agreed to help promote SurfAid’s fundraising efforts and recognize “substantial contributors through the city’s website and social media as well as the possibility of providing city resources, such as Bluffs Park or Legacy Park, for fundraising events.”
The Mentawai Islands, administered as a regency within West Sumatra, are part of an isolated island chain that lies on one of the most active earthquake zones in the world, known as the Sunda Megathrust fault.
The organization had requested the city adopt the Mentawai Islands and commit to support the organization.
The waves off the coast of the islands are well-known to surfers and Malibu surfers, including Councilmember Skylar Peak, have surfed the waters of the islands.
According to Peak, the lives of the islanders are far from paradisiacal given the level of poverty and the islands are considered a hotbed of malaria spread by the bite of mosquitoes. As Peak put it, “Malaria sucks,”
The goal of SurfAid’s Malaria Program includes its Malaria Free Mentawai campaign, “to “significantly reduce the prevalence and incidence of malaria through education and training,” according to the organization’s website.
“[SurfAid] has distributed more than 60,000 insecticide-treated nets and provided malaria education to over 300 villages in some of the remotest areas of the world, stretching along hundreds of kilometers of rough seas off the west coast of Sumatra,” the website states.
The surfers who formed SurfAid said they started in small ways such as providing mosquito netting and helping reduce the risk from natural disasters.
Founder Dave Jenkins saw the need for aid to Mentawai after a 1999 surf charter to the islands.
Jenkins, a “career focuses” doctor working in Singapore, decided to visit an inland village, “my beliefs in what is important in life were changed forever,” Jenkins writes on the SurfAid site. 
“After walking past the graveyard and seeing a lot of very small graves I ended up running a clinic at the chief’s request. I was the first doctor ever to visit the village.”
 “I saw women and children dying from malaria, malnutrition and inadequate living standards, things that I knew were treatable and, better still, preventable,” Jenkins said.
The scene haunted me for the rest of the trip, and followed me back to Singapore where I began questioning my life.”
Nearly one in 10 Mentawai children do not make it to the age of five, which is 15 times the death rate in developed countries, 41 percent of the children under five are stunted and a further 34 percent are underweight, and more than 70 percent of the population live below the poverty line, according to SurfAid.
A tsunami that smashed into the Mentawai Islands on Oct. 25, 2010 fatally injured over 500 islanders.
“Today SurfAid is proud that more than 95 percent of our program staff are Indonesian nationals who work hand-in-hand with the communities in the Mentawai and Nias islands off Indonesia’s Sumatran coast to bring about positive, sustainable health change while respecting the unique culture and customs of the islands.”

Horses and Open Space Equaled Freedom for a Young Malibu Equestrian

BY MIA WOOD

I think it was in 1981 that I graduated from the sixth grade at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School. That fall, I started Malibu Park Junior High School as one of the big kids. 
Those were still the days when kids could ride bikes or ponies from up in the hills all the way down to the beach without running into someone’s fenced property or being run into by someone driving too fast up Philip Avenue.
Malibu was not just for surfers, it was a great place to have horses. In fact, when I was a kid, there was a hitching post in the parking lot up at the Point Dume shopping center.
I grew up on Harvester Road, in between Filaree and Clover Heights. There was a dirt road leading from the end of Clover Heights down to the school fence line, which began at the tennis courts.
A trail along the baseball field led to a coaster-ride into and out of a gully, so that you found yourself at the mouth of Busch and Merritt Drive. Galloping down and up that hill was thrilling for kids on horses or motorbikes—and in those days, the latter were almost invariably considerate of the former, and no one was banned from going pretty much wherever they wanted, because no one took advantage of the freedoms they had.
If you went north instead of south at the tennis courts, a trail took you in between the school and private properties until you reached Morning View Drive.
If you were on your way to the Trancas Arena, you took a right and followed Morning View all the way down, riding partway on the street and partly on undeveloped sidewalk areas.
As a fairly solitary individual, one of my favorite things to do was jump on Mr. Appee, my beloved horse and best friend, and head up to the hills. Almost invariably, two or three of the family dogs trailed behind at a not so discreet distance, and I pretended not to notice that they’d snuck off the property to join us.
“My mountain” was at the intersection of Busch and Cuthbert—the one with the enormous fire trail running right up the face. There was a trail leading around the back of it, but whether you went directly or took the back way, the views from the top made all of us just stop and stare—horse, dogs, and me.
Looking through Appee’s ears, I tried to imagine what he saw as he, quite literally, turned his head from Catalina and Point Dume to the left, and slowly swept across the vast Pacific until his gaze seemed to settle on the Channel Islands to the right.
Eventually, the dogs got tired of sitting around, and found really interesting things to sniff out such as  coyote scat and rabbit trails, but Appee and I just watched and listened.
The gentle silence, broken only by a hawk’s cry high overhead or the wind rustling through dry chaparral, encompassed everything.
Through it all, nascent thoughts of my own insignificance in the face of such majesty collided with tremendous yearning to be something, to mean something.
Over the years, I left Malibu, only to return and then go again. In 2000, my parents sold the house on Harvester Road to a lovely couple and moved back to New England, where they were both born and raised. My dad died there in 2004. My mom now lives with my partner and me in Los Angeles.
I rarely get to Malibu, and no longer have a life with horses, but every so often my dogs and I pile into the car and head to my mountain. I climb as far up as I can, and then I sit and watch and listen.

Several Malibu Road-Related Projects Currently Underway

The City of Malibu’s Public Works Department has begun work on the Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Street Maintenance Project along Malibu Road, Busch Drive and Morning View Drive.
Malibu Road will receive “pavement repair and asphalt rubber overlay.
Busch Drive, from Rainsford Place to northerly terminus of Busch Drive, Morning View Drive from Via Cabrillo Street to Philip Avenue, and Winter Mesa Drive will be treated with slurry seal, according to a city press release. The contractor is Sully-Miller. The contact at the City of Malibu for the project is Arthur Aladjadjian, Public Works Superintendent, 310-456-2489 Ext. 235, aaladjadjian@malibucity.org
Road construction is also underway on Pacific Coast Highway between Sea Vista Drive to Malibu Cove Colony Drive.
Southern California Gas Company will begin a project to relocate a gas main from the land side to the ocean side of PCH on Nov. 26. Construction will continue until Dec. 30, according to signs posted at the location.
The relocation is being performed to facilitate a Caltrans project to stabilize an area with a history of landslide activity.
Preliminary work is scheduled for 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. When lane closures are required the schedule will shift to 9 p.m.- 4 p.m.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Malibu Election Numbers Fell in Line

• Local Candidates for SMMUSD Got Their Message Across

BY BILL KOENEKER

How did Malibu speak when the electorate gave voice at the ballot box last week?
The results tallied by the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder showed that of the 5346 ballots cast in the City of Malibu 3057 cast their vote for incumbent Barack Obama (D), while challenger Mitt Romney (R) picked up 2105. There are 9239 registered voters in the City of Malibu, 5246—58 percent—cast ballots.
That same margin held for some of the candidates such as for the US. Senate seat with Dianne Feinstein (D) gathering 3118 ballots to Elizabeth Emken’s (R) 1965. Feinstein won.
In the 27th State Senate District race Fran Pavley (D) won 2936 Malibu votes over Todd Zink’s (R) 2025. Pavley won.
Other races were much closer in Malibu. 33rd Congressional District incumbant Henry Waxman (D) squeaked by Bill Bloomfield (NPP) 2633 to Bloomfield’s 2292. Waxman received 53.2 percent of the vote to 46.8 precent.
The outcome in the 50th Assembly District is still undecided. In Malibu, Richard Bloom (D) was the apparent winner with 2154 votes to Betsy Butler’s (D) 2040.Bloom has 75,703 votes in the district, with Butler at 75,485 Absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted.
The Santa Monica-Malibu ES measure passed in Malibu by 2460 yes votes to 1888 no votes.
The top three vote-getters in Malibu for school board seats in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District were Karen Farrer with 2578, Craig Foster garnering 2463 and Seth Jacobson gathering 2044 .
However, none of Malibu candidates won.
Some of the initiatives were close in Malibu. State Measure 30 barely lost in Malibu by 2527 votes no, to 2518 votes yes, but passed at state level.
The so-called union donation proposition, Measure 32 ,was voted down 2746 to 2140 in Malibu and lost at the state level.
State Measure 34, the repeal of the death penalty handily won in Malibu with 2770 for and 2221 voting against. It lost statewide,
Most Malibuites agreed on a vote for Measure 35, the prohibition against human trafficking with 3898 voting for Measure 35 and 1067 voting against (won).
Measure 31 lost in Malibu with voters casting 2877 votes against the state measure and 1709 votes for 31 (lost).
Voters were almost evenly divided on the safe sex in adult films with Malibu voters turning it down 2453 votes to 2123 yes ballots (won).
Measure 37, the food labeling initiative won big in Malibu with 2990 yes votes to 2038 no ballots (lost).
Malibu is separated into voting precincts in the incorporated area and in the unincorporated area, which is called Malibu Heights.
There are 1703 registered voters in the hillside community. There were 758 ballots cast in this election garnering a 44 percent turnout, according to county records.

Savory’s Closure Raises Issues of Local Small Business Survival

• Center Owner and Chef Share Disappointment at Shutdown But See Different Factors at Root of Problems

BY ANNE SOBLE

When it became known that Savory restaurant in Point Dume Village had ceased operations last week, finger-pointing began by people who did not have access to specifics. As can happen too often in cases like this, the public prefers simplicity over complexity, and wants there to be a villain and a victim, even if no one sees themselves as one or the other.
While there are many details that attorneys for both parties have asked them not to discuss, what is known is that the closure took effect with a sign posted on Savory’s entrance last Tuesday that said, “Closed for Voting.”
The staff had reportedly been told not to come to work and the Point Dume Village management staff said they learned that inventory and equipment were being removed from the premises so they called a locksmith on Wednesday to change the locks.
There is no apparent rancor, however, between the two lead figures, Point Dume Village owner Zan Marquis, and the restaurant’s chef-owner Paul Shoemaker, both of whom express major disappointment that things did not work out and each expresses concern that there may be forces that make it difficult for small independent businesses to be successful in Malibu.
Both men have invested themselves in the restaurant and each views it as a personal loss.
Each of them, however, sees different ownership issues that will likely have to be resolved in court. Shoemaker removed numerous items that he believes belong to him and his primary investor/supporter who he will not name, while Marquis views these items as the possessions of management and a partner and called the sheriff’s department to make the removal a matter of public record.
Shoemaker counter asserts that there are things that belong to him and his employees to which access is being denied.
Marquis purchased the center and is credited with improving its look and bringing a new vitality and sense of community to the area. He enthusiastically discusses his vision of a center that reflects an environmentally aware and organic sensibility that he sees as becoming Malibu’s lifestyle vision, while making the center economically viable and a good business investment.
The center owner said, “No one is more disappointed than I am that Savory failed. No one invested as much. Instead of remodeling our home, we built out Savory and then some.”
Marquis said he “only stopped investing when we found out that the chef had signed a lease to open a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.”
Shoemaker echoed the disappointment, but he described factors during the last two months leading to closure as “the perfect storm.” He said this included everything from power failures to the state and national elections, which he indicated is traditionally a down time for restaurants.
He cited the overall economy and even “boycotting” of the center as other issues, and added, “I never expected things to go this way.” He emphasized that he supports what the group Preserve Malibu is doing, but said some patrons will avoid protests.
Shoemaker said he invested himself, often took no salary, and used what money the restaurant made to upgrade plumbing, electrical and the space.
He stressed that his local patrons are wonderful, but there are not enough of them in the winter, and added that when “the Broad Beach and other summer residents leave, business dropped.”
Marquis said he wrapped most of the $15,000 monthly rent for the space into his investment package, which Shoemaker acknowledged, but the men differ over what the total means and how much money is owed to whom, and this is what will likely have to be adjudicated.
Both men indicated that they thought they had good working relationships with each other.
Marquis said, “Our relationship became strained when I found out in June that he was opening another eatery” in a new downtown center.
In the works apparently since the spring (a minor press announcement for the restaurant appeared on a food blog in March), Marquis said he didn’t learn about the place to be named after one of Shoemaker’s specialty hamburgers until June and then told Shoemaker there would be no further investment on his part, which meant the rent became due at the first of every month.
Shoemaker counters that he didn’t have to tell Marquis about what he said is “an 800-square-foot burger joint.” He said he embarked on the venture because he needed additional income because “Malibu is a tough place to do business.”
Marquis said he has been sympathetic to what Shoemaker ws going through, but he noted “Shoemaker had made several statements to the property manager and me in September that he was thinking of moving out of Malibu for personal reasons.”
Marquis said when the two “met again in late October, he informed me that Savory’s sales were declining and he was worried about its survival. He asked me to invest more money in Savory and provide more free rent.”
Marquis said, “[Shoemaker] also said he wanted to reposition Savory as a burger bar. I thought about it and declined his request. He then sent me a long letter saying, among other things, that Savory was not going to be paying rent starting in November.
On the afternoon of Nov. 6, center management issued a standard three-day notice to ‘pay rent or quit.’”
Shoemaker said that in retrospect, Savory’s location is perfect for “a beautiful neighborhood nook” but that kind of place can’t afford $15,000 a month, especially with the small population base in Malibu.”
He said there should be a way to structure Malibu leases “to do percentage rent in the winter” but he acknowledged that many landlord costs are also constant year-round, except, in leases that are triple-net, where much of these costs can be passed onto tenants in some form, depending on their specific lease arrangements.
But Marquis said that with most of the rent factored into his share of investment, he “doesn’t know what else [he] could have done [for Savory].”
Marquis said, “I really wanted Savory to succeed. I want everything in Point Dume Village to be [successful] and play an important part in [community life] for the residents of western Malibu and all of Malibu.”

Power Outage Leaves Much of Malibu in the Dark Overnight

• Impacted Area Extended West from Latigo

BY BILL KOENEKER 

A series of power outages in various neighborhoods of Malibu over the weekend and on Monday left thousands of customers without power on the coldest night of the year, so far.
The largest outage occurred on Saturday at about 7 p.m. when approximately 4000 homes in western Malibu, from Latigo Canyon to County Line were plunged into the dark, according to a Southern California Edison official.
High winds that caused trees to topple onto lines in several locations were described as the culprits that caused considerable damage to not only lines, but also to critical equipment, according to Southern California Edison Regional Manager Mark Olson.
“The power was restored in stages, with the last customers back up at 4 p.m. Sunday,” Olsen added. Trees caused a lot of damage not just to the lines, but also transformers.”
Olson indicated they were not branches that downed power lines, but large trees that fell onto the lines.
Then again on Sunday at sometime after noon, the same circuit experienced a brief outage less than a minute, according to Olson, who said there was no cause found. “We could not find any problem,”  he said.
However, there were more problems for Malibu Road residents when they lost power on Monday morning.
There were 491 customers who were without power from about 8:45 a.m. until approximately 10:15 a.m. according to Olson, who said there was a piece of equipment on one of the poles that needed replacement.
The Saturday power outage also impacted cell phone users throughout the area, who found that they had reduced or non-existent signal strength, depending on their location and carrier. Issues were still being sorted out midweek.

State Lands Commission Staff Meets in Malibu

• Broad Beach GHAD Plan’s Impact Questioned Is by Environmental Groups

BY BILL KOENEKER

The California State Lands Commission staff met last week at Malibu City Hall, not the full commission as previously reported.
The commission is expected to weigh in on the matter at a full public hearing in Sacramento on Dec. 5.
Last week’s hearing was about the Broad Beach restoration project, proposed by the Broad Beach Geological Hazard Abatement District, which is the project applicant representing 114 homes, spanning from Lechuza Point to Trancas Creek.
The commission staff had completed what the state agency calls “an analysis of impacts to public trust resources and values” for the proposed project.
The staff wanted to hear comments from the public about the analysis and the project itself.
If the applicant’s request is authorized, the commission “would allow the Broad Beach GHAD to implement shoreline protection plan along Broad Beach for a period of up to 20 years, consisting of 1) initial beach nourishment; 2) dune creation and habitat restoration; 3)annual or biannual sand 'backpassing' to prolong nourishment; 4) authorizing the existing rock revetment buried under restored dunes and 5) one additional major renourishment event
The Broad Beach GHAD was formed in Sept. 2011 with the blessing of the Malibu City Council.
Some environmental groups wanted more information on how the project could impact the surf and wildlife.
Representatives from Heal the Bay, Surfrider Foundation and others wanted more details on the project.
The beach nourishment comes from dredging fine-grained sand from offshore of Broad Beach and transport of sand via slurry pipeline for discharge into training dikes and placement within the boundaries of the restored dune area, burying the existing revetment.
Then placing coarse-grained beach quality sand obtained from a off-shore borrow site from the toe of the dune area to the seaward extent of the beach nourishment area.
“The applicant has identified central Trancas offshore of Broad Beach as the site best suited for a fine-grained, dune renourishment sand source site. Dune sand would be dredged from an existing deposit of fine-grained sand located in a water depth range between 45 and 60 feet, approximately 0.25 mile offshore of the eastern segment of Broad Beach and Trancas Creek. This existing sediment deposit stretches from approximately 3.4 mile along the coast from Lechuza Point east to Point Dume is roughly one mile wide,” the commission report states.
Shopping center owner Zan Marquis, a member of the GHAD, did not speak at the one-hour meeting, but had said beforehand that would be the preferable way or it might be delivered by truck depending on which location is chosen. He said a location by Mugu Lagoon could be accomplished by trucking the sand.
He said the South Bay location that got so much press because a couple of council members,who objected is still a 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 Highway 1 to Broad Beach.
A reservoir of sand will be built to restore the dune habitat with native plant species.
The beach itself would be widened to provide enhanced public access and recreational opportunities along Broad Beach.
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.
“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.

Council OKs CUP Process for Civic Center Malls

• Staff Directed to Bring Back Ordinance on Formula Leasing

BY BILL KOENEKER

The majority of the Malibu City Council after hours of public testimony and deliberations on a 3-2 vote with Mayor Lou La Monte and Councilmember Joan House dissenting, directed the staff to come back with a draft ordinance requiring a Conditional Use Permit for any new formula business leasing in a shopping center of 10,000 square feet or more in the Civic Center.
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal, who offered the motion, had earlier talked about what she called a friendly amendment deleting previous language in her motion that addressed diversification by requiring 20 percent resident-serving business in those same shopping centers.
The council took action after hearing from over 30 speakers, who were divided in opposing an ordinance or urging the council to move forward with regulations.
“We can do the same thing with design standards,” said Councilmember  House. “There is no clear picture of where we want to go.”
Rosenthal urged her colleagues on by saying this was one small step. “This is just one piece so the stores we like can stay,” she said.
Despite objections from business owners and the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, Rosenthal said, “Is asking for a Conditional Use Permit outrageous? But it is only in the Civic Center.”
Though they opposed the CUP process, the mayor and House were adamantly opposed to addressing the diversification issue. “I’m like Joan, I don’t want to be the poster child for a diversification ordinance,” said La Monte.
Rosenthal countered, “Diversification should not be a problem. The only problem is if we lose all of our local businesses.”
“A lot of cities have retail formula bans. We can start small. There are a lot of different people here now that can shop in any of those Civic Center stores,” she said.
“Another layer of government is not the answer,” House had said earlier during the deliberations.
Councilmember John Sibert said he and city officials had been working on how to sustain community serving businesses over the last two years and he hoped everyone would compromise.
“But there has been nothing but demonization. There has been no attempt to find a middle ground,” he said. “There is instead a lot of nasty mean stuff,”  he added.
House reminded council members of times they did not listen to legal advice and the city got sued.
A 19-page memo from City Attorney Christi Hogin reminded the council it has to address whether there are current city goals that require a diversification or formula business regulation.
Hogin, who was not at the meeting, had her law partner/husband Michael Jenkins attend the session. He agreed with Hogin’s summation that the council was entering uncharted legal waters.
The council also discussed other processes involved in changing the CUP process and was told the matter would have to be approved by the California Coastal Commission as a municipal Local Coastal Program Amendment.
Staff also was told to come back with a report on diversification. No timetable was set.