Malibu Surfside News

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Planning Panel to Consider Trancas Center Outdoor Lighting Proliferation

• Critics Aver Potential for Significant Adverse Impacts

BY BILL KOENEKER

The City of Malibu Planning Commission is scheduled to hear an ongoing request by contractor Scott Rosier to amend a coastal permit for exterior night lighting at the Trancas Country Market at a public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
The request also seeks changes to the landscape plan, the native trees plan and the master signage  program.
The matter was originally scheduled for an Oct. 1 hearing, but was postponed after the applicant indicated that he wanted to meet with neighbors who were beginning to raise concerns about changes that the developer was proposing for the project.
The staff recommendation for a scheduled meeting last month was to continue the public hearing to a date uncertain by pulling it off the calendar.
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 is?sued by the city’s planning de?part?ment.
However, the current agenda notice does not stipulate how many poles are sought, but indicates an amendment “for proposed changes to the conditions of approval including changes to the previously approved lighting plan which includes the addition of pole mounted lights that vary in height from 12 to 16 feet located throughout the parking lot and pedestrian areas, as well as other site lighting and building mounted lighting.” In addition, the developers are seeking changes to the landscape plan, changes to the native tree plan, changes to screening requirements for onsite wastewater treatment pods and approval of a master sign program.          
The shopping center is still currently being remodeled and this is the second set of changes or amendments to the coastal permit that has been requested.
Night lighting has become an issue, especially in Malibu Park, because of lights approved for the high school sports  field and a new proposed parking lot.
The planning commission turned down night lighting for the planned 150-car high school parking lot.
Even more controversial is the field lighting recently installed at the football field at the high school 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 night lighting plans point out that the requested lighting, when considered cumulatively, would result in significant negative impacts to the night sky that cannot be fully mitigated.
COFFEE SHOP EXPANSION
Earlier next month on Monday, Jan. 7, the planning commission is scheduled to hear a request from Starbucks coffee officials for a permit to allow for a 441-square-foot-expansion and operation of the existing coffee shop located in the Trancas shopping center.
According to the planning department, the applicant wants to remodel and expand the coffee shop tenant space by removing the wall that separates it from an adjoining 441 square foot storefront that is currently occupied by a surf shop.
Once the project is completed, the total area dedicated to Starbucks will be 1545 square feet.
The new 441 square foot addition will be primarily used to add additional storage space and a restroom, according to a planning staff report.
The expansion, according to planners, will not result in additional seating or square footage to the existing building.
The existing hours of operation are not proposed to change.

Malibu Road Attorney Continues Solo Effort to Take Down Septic Ban

• Recent Pleading Amendment Allowed

BY BILL KOENEKER


A longtime local resident and private attorney, who filed a lawsuit against the local and state water boards and the California Environmental Protection Agency concerning the Malibu Civic Center septic ban, was able to file an amended pleading at the trial court level for her third cause of action for inverse condemnation.
She had previously filed a notice of appeal, but the CEPA and the state have successfully filed demurrers at the appellate level.
Attorney Joan Lavine, who owns a home on Malibu Road, got tangled up in the trial court over a set of procedural issues and is now appealing the lower court’s ruling. She seeks to have the ban overturned and set aside and is also making a claim that the septic ban has resulted in an inverse condemnation “due to the unconstitutional regulatory taking…of all viable economic value and use of her substantial property interests in her Malibu road property and seeks the award of reasonable monetary damages.”
Lavine said she was “OK” with her current progress in the complicated litigation because she was allowed to amend the pleading for the inverse condemnation.
A prohibition on all Civic Center area septic systems, including residential areas was approved and adopted by the RWQCB on November 2009 and approved and ratified by the State Water Resources and Control Board on Sept. 21, 2010.
Lavine asserts in her complaint that by doing so, the agencies “illegally engaged in a regulatory taking and confiscation of her substantial real property and re?lated interests.”
The lawsuit calls the prohibition “an invalid underground regulation and is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable overbroad, confiscatory, is an exercise of authority in excess of and without jurisdiction, is a usurpation of power, authority and jurisdiction where respondents have none, is without any factual support, and is invalid as a matter of law and therefore is null and void.”

Holiday Week’s Weather Patterns Don’t Dampen Local Spirits

• Full Rain Gauges and Nighttime Cold Add Wintery Touches to Malibu’s Sense of the Season

Malibuites didn’t require the assistance of official meteorological advisories to know that the last two weeks of December was being marked by days and nights of bone-chilling cold and umbrella-soaking rain.
The weather spurts of pleasant, even if only lukewarm, respite in between the storms appeared timed to acknowledge the holidays, but local residents quickly determined that it will be wise to keep rain gear at the ready through at least the first week of the new year.
As for the days immediately ahead, Los Angeles County has issued a rain advisory for all public beaches through Saturday, Dec. 29.
Because of the current rainfall, the Los Angeles County Health Officer is cautioning residents who are planning to visit county beaches to be careful of swimming, surfing, and playing in ocean waters around discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers.
The advisory notes that bacteria, debris, trash, and other public health hazards from city and mountain areas are likely to enter ocean waters through these outlets.
“Fortunately, discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers only comprise a small portion of the beach, and therefore, anybody who wants to go to the beach will be able to enjoy their outing,” according to Jonathan Fielding, the LAC public health director and health officer.
“We do advise swimmers and surfers to stay away from the storm drains, creeks and rivers as there is the possibility that bacteria or chemicals from debris and trash may contaminate the water near and around these areas, and some individuals may become ill,” Fielding added.
Areas of the beach apart from discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers are exempted from the county advisory, which will be in effect until 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29, but may be extended depending on further rainfall.
Recorded information updates  on county beach conditions are available 24-hours a day on the LAC beach closure hotline: 1-800-525-5662.
Information is also available online at LAC public health website located at: www.publichealth. lacounty.gov/beach.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued wind advisories for areas within Los Angeles County, but as yet they do not include the Santa Monica (Malibu) Range and the Ventura County Mountains.
Preliminary tallies of rainfall indicates that the greater Malibu area may have exceeded most area totals. Persons with calibrated rain gauges determined to be accurate are invited to email their  precipitation totals, dates and times to the Malibu Surfside News at news@malibusurfsidenews.com

Sea Otters May Be the Next Major Enviro Success Story Off Malibu’s Coast

•  Most of 27,000 Instances of Input Favored Termination of the Federal Translocation Program

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


California sea otters, once regularly spotted in Malibu’s kelp forests, may have the opportunity to return to their former southern range thanks to a U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service decision to terminate the 25-year old southern sea otter translocation program.
The decision means that sea otters will be able to continue to expand their range naturally into southern California waters in accordance with the recommendations of the 2003 revised southern sea otter recovery plan.
The rule takes effect on Jan. 18, 2013, and removes the regulations that govern the translocation program, according to a DFW press release.
“Sea otters at San Nicolas Island, offspring of the original sea otters translocated to the island under the program, will be allowed to remain there. Once the rulemaking becomes effective, the special exemptions to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act associated with the translocation program’s management and translocation zones will cease to exist, and all sea otters found in the waters south of Point Conception will be considered a threatened species under the ESA—the same status as the remainder of the population that resides along the California coast.”
“The decision culminates an approximately decade-long process during which the Service evaluated the translocation program and alternatives to it. During that period, the Service solicited and received extensive public comment. The vast majority of the approximately 27,000 comment letters, emails, and postcards received expressed support for termination of the translocation program,” the press release states.
 “Originally designed to provide a safeguard against population loss from an environmental catastrophe such as an oil spill, the translocation program was established by regulation in 1987 under the authority of Public Law 99-625, passed by Congress in 1986,” the DFW press release states. “The program’s aim was to provide for sea otter recovery while avoiding potential conflicts between sea otters and other interests, such as commercial fishing. Although the law did not require the Service to implement a translocation program, it mandated that if a translocation program were put in place, it would have a “translocation zone” (where sea otters would be brought) and a “management zone,” which would be kept otter-free by non-lethal means. The Service designated the area around San Nicolas Island as the translocation zone, into which part of the sea otter population was relocated in order to establish a new, separate population, and initiated efforts to capture and remove any sea otters that were found south of Point Conception in Santa Barbara County, California.”
The program relocated 140 sea otters to San Nicolas Island from the population along the central California coast in 1987, but could not keep them there. Most reportedly left the island within days, returning to their family groups on the central coast.
“Contrary to the primary recovery objective of the program, the translocation of sea otters to San Nicolas Island did not result in an established population that could serve as a source of animals to repopulate other areas of the range if a catastrophic event struck the mainland population,” the press release states. “Also, maintenance of a management zone proved to be inefficient and ineffective—with some sea otters swimming back to it even after being transported up to 200 miles away—and caused the deaths of some sea otters, resulting in the suspension of containment operations in 1993.”
In 2009, the Environmental De?fense Center successfully challenged the translocation program in court.
 “Trying to tell a marine mammal to stay on one side of an imaginary line across the water was a dumb idea,” said Steve Shimek, Executive Director of The Otter Project. “This rule will not only protect sea otters from harm, but because of the otters’ critical role in the environment, it will also help restore our local ocean ecosystem.”
“Southern sea otters have been largely absent from their historic southern California habitat for far too long,” stated Brian Segee, EDC Staff Attorney and lead attorney in the litigation and subsequent settlement. “This decision is a critical step in efforts to recover southern sea otters, by formally allowing this charismatic and intelligent species to naturally return to waters south of Point Conception.” 
“Under the decision, sea otters are now legally free to float the sunny southern California waters without the threat of being trapped and ‘deported’ to northern California.  Sea otters in southern California will have the same protections under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act as otters to the north, including being protected from harm from any new development plans that could impact their recovery, an Otter Project press release states. 
Southern sea otters were listed as threatened under the ESA in 1977. Today, there are just under 2800 southern sea otters inhabiting the coastline from San Mateo County south to Santa Barbara County and approximately 50 sea otters at San Nicolas Island in Ventura County.
In recent years, individual sea otters are occasionally sighted as far south as Leo Carrillo State Park.
Otter activists have indicated that the Point Dume State Marine Reserve, where all human fishing activities are prohibited, could once again provide viable habitat for sea otters.
The final rule and record of decision is available at: http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx.

Owners of BeauRivage Restaurant Had Transferred Ownership Last Year

•  Longtime Community Members Honored for Funding Pepperdine Fall Musicial and Scholarships

BY BILL KOENEKER

In what may come as a surprise to some in the community, the owners of the BeauRivage restaurant, Daniel and Luciana Forge, did not sell to some area entrepreneurs, but instead transferred ownership of the venerable dining establishment to Pepperdine University last summer.
That information was revealed recently when Pepperdine offici?als honored the couple at a luncheon at the school.
It was announced the Forges are funding a theater scholarship and the school’s fall musical, according to the school’s senior director of public affairs, Jerry Derloshon.
The landmark restaurant was subsequently sold by the school, which is using some of the proceeds to establish the scholarship.
A Pepperdine publication reports that the Forges donated a portion of BeauRivage establishing what is called “a $2.9 million charitable remainder annuity trust with the university.”
Half of the gift to Pepperdine will be used to endow Pepperdine’s annual fall musical performance, permanently named as the Luciana and Daniel Forge Fall Musical.
The other half will establish the Luicana and Daniel Forge Endowed Scholarship for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in musical and dramatic arts at Seaver College.
In the publication and at the luncheon, the history of the Forges was recalled. Daniel was working at Perino’s in the 1950s when he met his bride-to-be, Luciana, in 1956 and the two were married in 1958.
Luciana had been studying music, dance and voice in Europe and the two met when she was finishing up a tour.
In the 1960s, the couple opened L’Auberge on Sunset Blvd. and by the early ’80s were ready to move away from Hollywood and see what they could do with a five-acre piece of land in Malibu.
By 1982, they were ready to show the public what they could do in Malibu and opened BeauRivage.
According to Pepperdine, leaders from the school, who frequented the restaurant, developed a relationship with the Forges that lasted onward. Daniel joined the Crest Advisory Board at the urging of then President David Dav?enport, who was at the helm of the school.
According to Derloshon, Lou Drobnick, Pepperdine Executive Vice Chancellor for Advance?ment and Public Affairs, said “The Luciana and Daniel Forge gift to Pepperine will enhance the fall musical and theatre students’ experience at Pepperdine University in perpetuity. We appreciate the Forges’ generosity toward our students and greatly appreciate their friendship.”
Pepperdine President Andrew Benton was among those who gathered recently to express ap?preciation to the Forges.
          

KCIC Art and Essay Winners Are Announced

The winners of this year’s Malibu Keep Christ in Christmas essay, poetry and art competition have been announced:
Banner 
First Grade
1. Stephen Smith, Malibu United Methodist Church
2. Sharlene Diaz, MUMC
3. Stevie Sturgis, MUMC   
4. Azalea Felipe, MUMC
5. Lindsey Little, MUMC
Honorable Mention: Lauren Lapagne
Honorable Mention: Jack Lura
Second Grade
1. Claire Bradley, MUMC
2. Keira Norrel,  MUMC
3. Jessica Lura, MUMC
Third Grade
1. Kia Collins, MUMC
2. Andres Felipe, MUMC
Fourth Grade
1st Ashley Zimmermann  MUMC/Our Lady of Malibu
Fifth Grade
1. Helena Mandeville, MUMC
2. Layne Jacobson, MUMC
3. Christopher Jenson, MUMC
4. R.J. Paya, MUMC

Art
Kindergarten
1. Fergus Flanigan, OLM
2. Turner Principe, OLM
3. Kennedy Mudd, OLM
4. Fionnan Joyce, OLM
5. Nicholas Gebo, OLM
First Grade
1. Cody Paquette, OLM
2. Mia Quilici, OLM
3. Gillian Flynn, OLM
4. Liliana Duarte, OLM
5. Lola McCormick
Second Grade
1. Addison Arlidge, OLM
2. Anabelle Rottman, OLM
3. Olivia Williamson, OLM
4. Sofia Gillen, OLM
5. Dexter Guillemot, OLM
Third Grade
1. Sofia Bingham, OLM
2. Jacqueline Reynaga, OLM
3. Francesca Manera, OLM
4. Nicole Reynaga, OLM
5. India Cortese, OLM
Fourth Grade
1. Jacquelyn Neuner, OLM
2. Ashley Zimmermann, OLM
3. Isabella McCormick, OLM
4. Ashleigh Williams, OLM
5. Ryanne Schack, OLM
Fifth Grade
1. Brigid Tucker, OLM
2. Erin Muldoon, OLM
3. Andrei Isaak-Sap, OLM
4. Kamilla Peters, OLM
5. Bella Manera, OLM
Sixth Grade
1. Mia Ross, OLM
2. Harry Culhane, OLM
3. Josh Komen, OLM
Seventh Grade
1. Sophia Williamson, OLM
2. Abigail O’Bryon, OLM
3. Anais Juarez, OLM
Eighth Grade
1. Kole Smith, OLM
Honorable Mention:
Wyatt  Nelson, OLM, Lucas Sickner, OLM

Essay
Fifth Grade
1. Caitlyn Flynn, OLM
2. Rachel De Angelis, OLM           
3. Calvin Joyce, OLM   
Sixth Grade
1. Liam Mudd, OLM
2. Alex Jemelian, OLM
3. RJ Joseph, OLM
Seventh Grade
1.  Sophia Polard
Eighth Grade
Shane Carey, OLM

Poem
Fifth Grade
1. Nicholas Vandergon, OLM
Sixth Grade
1. Jake Sall, OLM
Seventh Grade
1. Sabrina Carey, OLM 

Winner of Best Essay Overall for grades 5-8:
Jillian Neuner

The theme for the 2012 KCIK contest was “The Star Guided the Wise Men. What Guides You?”
Malibu Keep Christ in Christmas Awards Night will take place on Sunday Jan. 6, at 6 p.m. at Our Lady of Malibu Church, 3625 Winter Canyon Road.

Barn Owl Gets Second Chance Thanks to Local Rescue Center

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

We were driving on Las Posas Road in Camarillo on our way home to Malibu when we saw the barn owl.  It was flying at eye level parallel to the road, its pale wings bright against the rain clouds at dusk. We went from feeling blessed for the opportunity to see this secretive nocturnal raptor to horror as the bird was caught in the slipstream of a passing truck, flipped through the air and slammed into the road.
As soon as it was safe we made a u-turn and backtracked to where the owl lay in the road. I stopped the car with the hazard lights on. The owl wasn’t moving. In the air it looked large and graceful. Now it appeared small and crumpled.
 “It has to be dead. How could it possibly have survived?” my mother and I asked each other.
“Maybe we should just let nature take its course and not interfere?” We both knew we couldn’t do that. We had to check. We couldn’t just drive away. This owl was on the road and in danger of being flattened by the next vehicle. It was also extremely cold out and beginning to rain again. The bird’s feathers would be sodden. Even if it was not seriously injured it could die of shock.
We stepped out into thick mud and made our way over to the owl. It was still alive. I could see that it was breathing, but it was impossible to determine the extent of its injuries.
Using leather gloves and an old towel stored in the car for emergencies, I gently lifted the owl off the pavement and placed it in a cardboard box. It was surprisingly light.
My mother, who is 80, but always game for any adventure, big or small, took charge of the box, keeping it on her lap, and ensuring that its occupant would remain in the box if it revived in the car.
She’s an intrepid rescuer of snakes, birds, rabbits,  and the occasional stray rodent.
 It was nearly 5 p.m. and starting to rain. A frantic Google search for wildlife rehab in the area yielded only answering machine messages and a disconnected phone number, but the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas was still open and the staff member agreed to wait for the owl. “Call when you get there,” he said. “Someone will be there to meet you.”
We headed back to the 101 and over the Camarillo grade. It took us almost an hour with the rain to reach the wildlife center. Halfway there the owl revived enough to flap around in the box. We resisted the temptation to look. My mother kept the lid of the box gently but firmly in place.
They were expecting us at the California Wildlife Center. While we filled out the necessary paperwork, the owl was weighed, measured, and found to be dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia.
‘That’s not unusual,” CWC Animal Care Coordinator Denys Hemen told us. “They dehydrate easily.”
The patient was placed in an incubator to keep warm and received subcutanious fluids and nutrition. He would have to wait for morning for the vet to examine him.
We learned that barn owls depend on the moisture in their prey—primarily mice, pocket gophers and other small rodents—to stay hydrated. Well-meaning but inexperienced would-be rescuers have reportedly drowned owls attempting to give them water. However, experienced rehabilitators have had success using subcutanious fluids to rehydrate owl patients.
When we checked on the owl the following day we were told that the veterinary examination did not find any broken bones and blood tests and parasite tests were within normal levels, but the owl was still not able to maintain its body temperature.
By the second day, the owl had recovered enough to eat a mouse. CWC staff were now optimistic that the bird would survive.
By the end of the week the owl had recovered enough to feel fierce and angry, spreading its wings and bobbing its head to warn the rehab staff to keep away. “It’s a good sign,” Hemen told me. “You know there is something seriously wrong with an owl that lets you just pick it up.”
Almost a week and half after his near miss on Las Posas Road, the owl was ready to be released.
A study of one barn owl family revealed that a nest of six hatchlings consumed an astonishing 70-plus pounds of rodents. A mature owl may consume as many as three or four rodents each night.
However, because the owl population can expand rapidly in response to an increase in the rodent population, starvation is a leading cause of mortality. Rodenticides can have a devastating impact on barn owls not only through direct or secondary poisoning but because widespread rodenticide use can cause barn owl populations to crash as their food source suddenly vanishes. 
As its name implies, this nocturnal predator has learned to adapt to life with humans, nesting in the barns and abandoned buildings, foraging in agriculture areas and making use of fence posts for hunting lookouts.
We learned that the average life span for most barn owls is less than two years due to the number of hazards they face, but that they have been documented to live for as long as 17 years under good conditions in the wild. Barn owls raised in captivity can live to be 20-25. 
Barn owls face many threats in the wild. Starvation, vehicle collisions and rodenticide poisoning top the list, but they are also vulnerable to predation by great horned owls, and are increasingly impacted by loss of habitat, as the open fields and meadows they depend on are replaced with urban sprawl. However, this owl was going to have a second chance.
 “They don’t look like it, but barn owls are fragile,” hospital manager Jo Joseph told me. “Unlike more robust birds, pigeons, for example, they can die from shock very easily. They dehydrate rapidly.”
Johnson gave us instructions for releasing the bird. The Department of Fish and Wildlife requires that all rescuees be released within a couple of miles of the location where they were found. CWC depends on volunteers to transport and release animals. When we brought the bird in we volunteered to pick it up at the center and bring it back to the Oxnard Plain for release.
My mother volunteered to assist with the release. We carried the patient back to Las Posas Road in a special plastic box with ventilation holes and a secure top. We opted to release him about a mile away from the site where we found him, in an area that offered shelter and didn’t have high-speed traffic.
Barn owls hunt primarily by sound rather than sight—the distinctive flat face is comprised of special feathers that create a sort of avian antenna for catching the sounds of scurrying rodents, but they reportedly also have good vision and are often out during daylight in the hour before the sun sets. We chose that time to release the patient.
We both intended to take photos of the release, but the owl was out of his carrier and ghosting away like a small white phantom the second we opened the box.
Barn owls often mate for life. Releasing this owl in the same area where we found him ensured the best chance that he would return not only to his usual hunting territory, which can cover as much as 200 acres, but also to his mate if he had one.
Wildlife rescues often don’t have happy endings. We were glad that this one did.
The CWC advises would-be animal rescuers to, “Safely contain the animal. Put the animal in a warm, dark, quiet place and immediately contact California Wildlife Center or a wildlife rehabilitator/center near you.”
We always have an emergency kit in the car with leather gloves, a towel, and a cardboard box.
While time is often the key to wildlife rescue survival, it’s important that would-be rescuers feel comfortable dealing with the animal they are attempting to assist and that the rescue does not put the animal or themselves at risk.
More information on the  non-profit California Wildlife Center is available at http://www.cawildlife.org. Animal emergencies can be reported at 310-458-WILD.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Technology May Have Trumped Public Dialogue on Formula Retail Curbs

• Pre-Programming of Workshop Options May Limit Public Ability to Initiate Major Municipal Policy Change

BY BILL KOENEKER

No one had to worry that they would not get a key pad polling device when about 55 individuals showed up at last week’s formula retail community meeting to engage in a somewhat different way for the planning staff to measure public opinion about the controversial issue.
Pete Peterson, the executive director of the Davenport Institute from Pepperdine University, was hired by the city’s planning department for $750 to  oversee the machinery used to tabulate 20 questions and a definition of community serving business.
All of the answers were immediately shared with the audience when the questions were asked and the results tabulated and shown on screens.
Peterson explained the polling is not scientific and there is no way of knowing if somebody is telling the truth. The polling is anonymous and considered a different way of engaging the public.
From the outset, Planning Director Joyce Parker Bozylinski said it was not a meeting about not having an ordinance since the council had already approved the framework for one.
Planner Joe Smith said the staff would prepare what he called the preamble for the ordinance and the description of what formula retail is.
Smith said they wanted to narrow down the findings to six and had already built a skeleton of ideas, but acknowledged, “the devil is in the details.”
“Now we want to hear from the public. What would you say?” asked Smith.
Peterson said a full report of the tabulations would be available at the end of this week. Municipal planners said those results would be posted on the city’s website as soon as they were made available.
Once the initial questions began folks already knew something about each other in the room. There were 72 percent that were polled, who indicated they were current residents of the city and 28 percent responded no.
They were asked how long they had been residents and if they currently owned, managed and/or worked at a business in the Civic Center. There were 66 percent that indicated they had nothing to do with a business and 34 percent that answered in the affirmative.
Then the 52 up to sometimes 57 respondents were asked retail formula questions such as how many stores “worldwide” would it take to  be considered a formula business.
There were 15 percent that noted three or more, with 23 percent considering five or more. There were 17 percent that indicated it would require 10 or more and 23 percent who described 13 or more as formula retail. The answer of “none of the above” was chosen by 23 percent.
Respondents almost always had a chance to register “none of the above” which usually garnered near 25 to 30 percent.
 It was noted, privately, by some in the audience that number was not far off from the percentage of respondents in the room who work, manage or own businesses in the Civic Center.
However, it was pointed out there could be respondents who were for a retail formula ordinance, but thought the choices did not reflect their criteria.
The audience was asked what they considered the most important criteria such as location of stores, width of the street chains were on, the gross square footage or the total number of formula stores in the shopping center. The majority answered the total number.
Then folks were asked what would be the criteria if the total number was eliminated as a choice. There were 72 percent that answered total square footage.
The next question dealt with what would be the total maximum percentage of formula businesses that would be considered an over-concentration.
Almost a third answered the smallest percentage 15 to 25 percent. A little less than a quarter of the respondents indicated it would require 51 to 65 percent.
If the planning commission considered as its criteria square footage what should be the maximum percentage allowed?
There were 37 percent who indicated the minimum offered of 1500 square feet, while 15 percent responded to 2500. Fewer respondents chose the option of 3500 to 5500 square feet.
Planners also wanted to know about a subjective finding such as what would be the most important criteria such as the business not impair rural character. There were 26 percent who responded to that criteria, while 46 percent indicated it was the proposed intensity. There were 23 percent that indicated “none of the above,” while five percent noted the business must be of itself non-intrusive and non-obstructive.
When the same question was asked, but the top choice in the previous question was eliminated, then 47 percent responded to rural character and 23 percent now responded to non-intrusive. There were 30 percent responding to “none of the above.”
When asked what would be the minimum square footage respondents would allow if a current formula business wanted to expand, 38 percent indicated the trigger would be no more than 250 square feet, another 18 percent recommended 500 square feet, while five percent indicated 1000 square feet and nine percent noted 1500 square feet. There were 23 percent that indicated “none of the above.”
The question was then asked if an existing formula store owner wanted to increase seating what would be the limits. There were 37 percent of the respondents that answered an increase of 10 percent seating would be the limit, while 30 percent indicated 25 percent. There were 12 percent that chose 50 percent and another 21 percent responded to “none of the above.”
Another question dealt with exemptions. Would respondents agree to the following exemptions: grocery, gasoline service stations, pharmacies, insurance, real estate, banks. Should all six be exempted? There were 56 percent of the respondents who said yes, while 44 percent answered no.
Planners wanted to know if there should be any kind of relief from the ordinance if a property owner could show they were unable to fill a specific tenant space after being denied a formula retail business a certain number of times.
There were 33 percent who said yes and 62 percent who responded no. Then respondents were asked if they answered yes, how many attempts could be offered to property owners. There were 38 percent that responded one, 23 percent that answered two, 12 percent indicated three and 27 percent that indicated four and 50 percent, who responded “none of the above.”
The next half of the session was taken up with creating a definition for community serving business.
The audience broke off into groups of seven or eight and was asked to sit next to others they might not know.
The groups discussed among themselves for some time and were given instructions to define community serving business in two or three words.
After doing so, the polling began again and everyone was able to vote on their top choices. Then the pollster kept removing the top choice for again another poll of the same definitions except the top choice of the previous poll.
The first poll included 10 items suggested by the groups such as businesses offering regular household goods, or providing convenience, necessities, the proximity to home, resident serving, daily use, local employment, community involvement, unique local character and affordable basic goods.
When the repeated polling was concluded, the top five remaining definitions were resident serving, unique local character, affordability, regular household use and community involvement.
Smith said they hoped to have a draft ordinance in front of the planning commission by Jan. 22 with the proposed measure going before the city council by Feb. 25.

Critics Continue to Raise Questions about Lagoon Construction

• State Parks Spokesperson Reaffirms That Project Is Going According to Plan Despite Claims Made by Opponents

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Residents continue to raise questions concerning State Parks’ Malibu Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement Project. Recently aired issues include concerns regarding rain-related erosion and water quality in the main channel. A series of emails from the time period immediately before the construction portion of the project acquired by a public information request is also generating controversy.
“I have submitted a CD with emails I obtained from [the] State Parks Department regarding the Malibu Lagoon,” activist John Davis told the Malibu City Council last week.
“These are important,” Davis said. “I would like to share some quotes from the emails. One represents a disingenuous outreach to council[-member Skylar] Peak.”
Davis read a portion of an email from State Parks Angeles District Superintendent Craig Sap to former State Parks Director Ruth Coleman and former Heal the Bay President Mark Gold that states: “When I spoke to [State Parks Senior Environmental Scientist] Suzanne [Goode] earlier today about this, we both agreed that Skylar would probably ask to be accompanied by other opponents and thus make the meeting unlikely.
“Our objective is to appear open, but knowing that he will not want to meet on our terms. In the end, we can say we reached out to him.”
“I cannot believe what I am reading,” Davis told the council.  “Mark Gold responds, ‘And again, I understand your staff's concern and his is really more about diplomacy than outcome.”
Davis continued to read from the email. “‘[It’s a] new council and you are reaching out to a guy who will be gone for two weeks to Indonesia from Thursday on. The symbolism would be influential,’” he read.
“They are discussing a council person and I find this very disturbing myself,” Davis said. Suzanne Goode and Craig Sap have concealed recent planning meetings from the staff and from this council.”
Davis also read quotes from emails regarding a meeting that took place in May regarding proposed plans to manage a manmade breach at the Malibu Lagoon.
“At least two private businesses have participated with State Parks and the County of Los Angeles as it relates to discussions of prior legal and proposed new breaches of the lagoon,” Davis said.
“The private businesses are Surfrider and Malibu Surfing Association. The Surfrider representatives are identified as C. Nelson and Nancy Hastings. The meetings were not announced publicly. No other businesses, [and] other businesses, individuals or agencies were not invited to participate and records were kept by an individual named Scott Valor.
“The May 10 meeting discusses reopening the lagoon and I will read some quotes for you. “Parks does not have a permit to breach. Lifeguards have breached it as well as private citizens all illegally in the past.
Davis closed with the following quote: “Surfrider staff is convinced that if local surfers knew there was a confirmed west breach management that they’d back off lagoon opposition. Privately have said that they don’t care about lagoon but saw them as related.’”
One resident told the Malibu Surfside News following the meeting that the emails underscore what she indicated she perceives as a major disconnect between the State Parks and the organizations involved in the project and the City of Malibu and the public.
“It’s clear that they treat us like the enemy, and have done that from the beginning, instead of like neighbors and partners in this process. It’s extremely discouraging.”
Craig Sap, who was at the meeting to report  the lagoon project, responded: “You can take an email and you can paraphrase, and you can take portions of it and in that particular case it is fully explainable. In that particular case, it was prior to the start of the Malibu Lagoon project and Skylar was the one who reached out to us, so it’s very explainable, and I can in detail, I can talk to you about it, it’s not what it appears, not even close, and all the words, just so you know, all the words I wrote on there are correct, but it’s a longer, drawn-out, off-line conversation with regards to that email, that one in particular.”
Sap clarified that “the breach [is] separate from the lagoon project, completely separate, [the meeting was the] start of looking at that as a managed breach, working with partners.”
Sap indicated that construction at the site has been hampered by recent rain but that the project is moving forward without serious problems. He stated that the native plants grow at a slower rate than invasive non-natives, and that the landscaping crew is  currently hand-weeding the recent plantings.
 “The project is held up just a bit because of the recent rains, but I’m told that no runoff left the site and entered the lagoon, or the surf zone,” Sap said.
He indicated that mud on the beach access route was the only impact from the rains.
Sap concluded that he was available to discuss the project with council members and the public. “If anyone calls me I will pick up the phone,” he said.
Sap was not available for comment on Tuesday, before the Malibu Surfside News went to press.
Representatives from the Regional Water Quality and Control Board were reportedly at the site earlier this week.
The News received a report on Tuesday evening that the RWQCB allegedly issued citations for “housekeeping and erosion” concerns following the inspection.

Municipal Cultural Arts Commission Begins to Take Shape

•  Some of the Council Members Announce Their Panel Selection from Vetted Candidate Pool

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council last week appointed three of the five voting members and the one ex-officio member of the newly created municipal Cultural Arts Commission.
Councilmember Skylar Peak, who attended part of the meeting via teleconference from Bahrain, did not announce an appointment.
Neither did Councilmember Joan House, who said she was deferring her announcement until the next council meeting.                 
The top eight candidates for the commission posts, according to a staff report, were Richard Gibbs, Scott Hosfeld, Mary Anne Keshen, Eric Myer, Robin Perkins, Daniel Stern, Scott Tallal, and Suzanne Zimmer .
The acknowledged top candidate for the ex-officio position, Graeme Clifford, received the nod for that seat from the council at large.
Mayor Lou La Monte appointed his colleague from the city’s now defunct View Preservation Task Force, Suzanne Zimmer.
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal tapped film and television actor Daniel Stern.
Councilmember John Sibert picked Scott Hosfeld, a musician who organizes and hosts musical events at his residence in Malibu.
This process was a break from tradition, as each council member got to appoint one commission member from a candidate pool created by Mayor Lou La Monte and Councilmember Laura Rosenthal.
As a rule, council members have made appointments from their own pool of eligible appointees.
In April, the council accepted the final cultural arts report prepared by the Arts Task Force. At that meeting, council members directed staff to bring back an ordinance establishing the arts commission.
By May, the council approved an interview process and began taking applications for the appointment process, according to a staff report.
By June, the city council had adopted the ordinance creating the commission, which is charged with making recommendations to the council relating to cultural arts policy, facility rental fee policies for local cultural arts organizations, cultural arts related general fund grant applications, use of city parks for cultural arts related events, purchase of art by the city cultural arts programs sponsored by the city, outreach to Malibu arts and cultural arts organizations, use of cultural spaces at Malibu City Hall, according to a staff report.
The five-member panel consists of residents of the city. The council may also appoint an ex-officio member, who lives in unincorporated Malibu outside the city limits, but within the 90265 zip code area. This member does not have a vote on the commission and is appointed at large by the council.
A total of 23 applications were received. Of those submitted, 15 applicants qualified for the full position, six applicants qualified for the ex-officio position and two applicants were ineligible because they did not live within the 90265 zip code, according to the report.
Last month, a five-member panel convened to interview the 18 candidates.
The panel was comprised of council arts ad hoc committee members La Monte and Rosenthal, included the city’s consultant and staff liaison from the Arts Task Force. It also included a member of the Agoura Hills Cultural Arts Council.
“The interview panel noted that the candidate pool was very strong and ended up selecting eight exemplary candidates to recommend for Malibu’s inaugural Cultural Arts Commission. These candidates represent a diverse group of residents who demonstrated a blend of experience related to cultural arts,” the staff report concluded.

City Council Delays Taking Action on Odoriferous Sewage Transfer Trucks

•  Stance on Stench May Relate to Price Tag for Olfactory Option

BY BILL KOENEKER 

Having agreed upon a successful strategy for dealing with the food trucks that began proliferating on Pacific Coast Highway, the Malibu City Council focused their attention last week on what to do about the pumper truck sewage transfers that take place along some of the same roadways.
Deputy Building Official Craig George, who said he was open to ideas, suggested the council need not take any action, that septic system pumping is necessary and that concerns expressed about spills are “unwarranted” since there have been no reported spills.
George said there was also concern expressed about the transfer of that sewage being done in the septic prohibition area in the Civic Center due to the potential for spills in the storm drains on Civic Center Way at Winter Canyon.
The deputy building official also told council members that the first course of action came from the city attorney’s office.
City Attorney Christi Hogin’s office drafted an ordinance regulating the transfer of septic material and prohibiting transfer on public streets.
Council members turned back such regulation when they were told the costs for pumping would skyrocket for homeowners because the septic material would have to be transported so far away outside of Malibu if it could not be transferred within city limits.
“I don’t support an ordinance at this time. I would like to see if the sewage could be taken to the Tapia plant or, as a long shot, to the proposed civic center plant,” said Councilmember Joan House.
“Let’s look at the Civic Center and see if we can convince [the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District at] Tapia to allow the transfer there. They have a big turnaround. I am not ready to ban transfers,” said Councilmember John Sibert.
George said the staff looked at other options. “The staff investigated the feasibility of transporting and treating septage at the Tapia Wastewater Treatment facility,” he said.
Tapia officials indicated that its existing infrastructure was not adequate and it would require Regional Water Quality Control Board approval to modify its water discharge report permit.
George said the city could explore whether odor control equipment should be mandatory.
Currently, according to George, pumper truck transfers are not prohibited in the city. The city’s code requires pumpers to provide the municipality with a list of all proposed authorized disposal sites.
The Local Coastal Program does not address pumper truck transfers, according to George, but does allow “wastewater storage and hauling” in the commercial general zones with a conditional use permit.
“Pumper truck transfers are of like and similar use to wastewater storage and hauling and, therefore could be allowed in the CG zone,” George wrote in his staff report. “There are a limited number of privately owned CG properties within the city. It is unlikely that the private property owners will allow this use on their property.”
Norm Haynie, who is the chair of the Wastewater Advisory Committee, said the issue for residents is the odor. He said odors could be controlled using filters on the trucks.
Initially, Councilmember Laura Rosenthal made a motion to “go with the proposed ordinance, not odor control,” but quickly withdrew her motion when she was reminded the ordinance would ban transfers and all pumper trucks would have to go the long distance to dispose of their contents. “I take it back,” she said.
The building official noted that it is necessary to pump septic systems on a regular and ongoing basis.
“Smaller pump trucks are utilized to pump individual septic systems and then the material is pumped into larger trucks for transport and disposal. These transfers have routinely occurred on Civic Center Way at Winter Canyon and on Pacific Coast Highway at Heathercliff Road.
“The concerns expressed over spills is unwarranted as there have been no observed spills during pumper truck transfers. Allowing pumper truck transfers within the city reduces the cost of onsite wastewater treatment system maintenance and traffic impacts on Pacific Coast Highway and in the canyons,” added George.

Coastal Panel OKs Pepperdine Expansion

•  Commission Staff Says Night Sky Views of Neighbors Matter

BY BILL KOENEKER


Pepperdine University’s proposed expansion plans contained in a Long Range Development Plan Amendment went before the California Coastal Commission last week in San Francisco.
The document contains language by the CCC staff  that was approved by the commission that will require university officials to “protect night sky views by requiring the replacement of outdated ‘globe’ style light standards throughout the campus with new lighting.”
In addition, the commission gave the nod for a modification “for establishing standards for new outdoor lighting, including the requirement that all new outdoor lighting, including athletics facility lighting, be designed and maintained to achieve the maximum feasible reduction of light pollution.”
Another modification sought by the commission staff and approved by the coastal panel addresses traffic, though, in a specific context.
The language reads, “Protect coastal access and recreation by requiring that high-attendance events hosted in the new university facilities are planned, scheduled and managed to prevent related traffic from congesting Pacific Coast Highway during times of peak travel by coastal visitors (Memorial Day through Labor Day, and state holidays during the remainder of the year).”
The City of Malibu had suggested specific traffic mitigation measures, but those were not adopted by the commission, nor considered in any detailed analysis by the commission staff.
The proposed amendment would allow for the construction of 394,137 net new square feet of structural development on the lower campus. Almost 300,000 square feet of assigned structural area would remain for future construction, according to a CCC staff report.
“The project is infill development designed and located to minimize impacts on coastal resources,” the staff report goes on to state.
The main components of the phased project within the developed 230-acre lower campus includes refurbished dormitory facilities, an athletics/events center with more than 5000 seats and NCAA-competition volleyball and basketball facilities, a NCAA-competition soccer field created by upgrading the existing outdoor field.
Other improvements include a town square visitors center with underground parking, a landscaped quad for campus community gatherings and intramural recreation area created by expanding a flat pad area and installing an intramural playing field with changing room/bathrooms.
 Additional parking will be created by converting the school of law parking lot into a tiered parking structure adding 433 parking spaces.
Last August 2012, the school submitted its application for an amendment to the certified Pepperdine University Long Range Development Plan. At its October 11, 2012 meeting the commission extended the time limit to act on this LRDP amendment for a period of one year.
The project proposes the construction of a large fill pad in a canyon on the northern end of the lower campus area, according to the commission staff report. The pad could include as much as 175,000 cubic yards of material.
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 with 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.

RWQCB Grants Permit to Malibu Mesa Sewage Plant

• Facility Serves Population of 4300

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board at a public hearing in Simi Valley recently gave unanimous approval for the reissuance of a wastewater permit for the Malibu Mesa water reclamation plant, which serves Pepperdine University and Malibu Country Estates.
The plant, which is operated by the Los Angeles County Public Works Department, serves about 4300 persons, according to the RWQCB.
“It was pretty much cut and dried [hearing],” said Raul Medina, a water resource control engineer with the RWQCB.
“The board members questioned the time it takes on the work plan, thinking it was taking too long,” said Medina. “But the board understood when Los Angeles County and Pepperdine explained that is the stated time.”
The landscape impoundments also known as storage reservoirs, and irrigation facilities is owned, operated and maintained by Pepperdine.
Under normal operation, the recycled water is discharged into the two landscape impoundments at the university campus. The recycled water is then used for irrigation for approximately 141 acres of the 282 developed acres of the university campus, according to RWQCB documents.
“During the wet season (Nov. 1 through April 15 of each year) when irrigated areas are saturated with water and the storage reservoirs are in imminent danger of overtopping, the recycled water may be discharged to surface water.
“The discharge to surface water will be limited to 10 days per year, unless authorized in writing by the executive officer upon demonstration of necessity under emergency conditions. There was no discharge of effluent wastewater to surface water during the previous permit cycle,” the RWQCB document states.
On the basis of preliminary review and application of standards and regulations, the board, agreed to issue revisions to the discharge permit including effluent limitations and special conditions.
The discharges by Los Angeles County are from discharge points identified as Marie Canyon Creek and an unnamed canyon west of Maria Canyon Creek and are subject to waste discharge requirements that are set forth in what is called the order.
The Malibu Mesa facility has a design capacity of .20 mgd. The average plant effluent is about .177 mgd. All domestic wastewater generated by the university is collected at the flow generation.
The majority of the wastewater is sent to Malibu Mesa and any portion of wastewater over 0.165 mgd is sent to the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District Tapia water reclamation facility. Domestic wastewater generated by Malibu Country Estates flows directly to Malibu Mesa.
The RWQCB approval takes effect on Jan. 25, 2013 and will expire on Nov. 10 2017.

Santa’s Annual Point Dume Christmas Eve Ride Will Honor Memory of Judge John Merrick

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

For more than 60 years on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus has paused from very his busy sched?ule to stop on Point Dume and visit with children, young and old, to share in the magic and wonder of the season.
“It is with great pride that we continue the tradition of the Point Dume Santa Sleigh Ride this year in tribute to the late Honorable Judge John Merrick,” an announcement for the event states.
“We wanted to honor the judge,” event organizer and coordinator Kirby Kotler told the Malibu Surfside News.
Malibu lifeguards Bob Burnside and Jack Campbell began the tradition in 1948. Judge Merrick, who died earlier this year, was an enthusiastic supporter of the parade for many years.
The Kotler, Rondell, and Smith families have once again volunteered to keep the tradition alive and help coordinate Santa's visit, assisted this year by the Higginbotham family.
The parade begins on Cliffside Drive at 5 p.m. Official Santa Stops are located at Grasswood Ave., Dume Drive (two stops), Bluewater Road, Birdview Avenue, Sea Lion Place, Fernhill Drive, Grayfox Street, Wildlife Road (three stops), Zumirez Drive, Heath?ercliff Road, and Wan?dermere Road (twice).
Residents and friends are asked to congregate at designated and marked “Santa Stops” along the route.
“For everyone’s safety, Santa can only stop at the designated stops. If you cannot make your way to one of the designated stops, please wave and sing a noel as we drive by,”  Kirby Kot?ler writes.
“Even mythical beings must follow fire regulations, and that Santa’s “sleigh must make a U-turn before stopping on streets that end in a cul de sac, like Wandermere and Grayfox.
Santa is asking that residents remember to slow down and watch for small children and other pedestrians. Organizers add that wherever possible it would help to limit street parking in front of and across from the official “Santa Stops.”
Point Dume drivers are reminded to use extra caution on Christmas Eve, watch for children, and have patience with any traffic generated by the parade.
A detailed map of the stops is located at: http://tinyurl.com/ptdumesantasleigh For information: 310-600-1106

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Point Residents Cut Through Red Tape to Find Solution to Whale Problem

• City Council Member Calls for Plan to Deal with Any Future Incidents Involving Disposal

BY BILL KOENEKER

The remains of a young male fin whale that washed ashore at the eastern end of Little Dume Cove last week, were towed back out to sea on Sunday by a privately hired vessel assist boat.
A group of Point Dume residents and business owners, tired of the red tape that residents say left the dead and decomposing marine mammal in bureaucratic limbo, arranged for the removal and burial at sea.
“This is an object lesson,” said Councilmember John Sibert, who lives on Point Dume, closest to the location where a fin whale washed up at the eastern end of Little Dume Cove last week. Sibert discussed the incident at this week’s Malibu City Council meeting.
“We have so many jurisdictions. When it came down to the problem, no one knew who [was responsible for taking action],” he said.
“We have to find a way to make decisions more quickly,” he added.
Sibert said it was a matter of protocol. Others have described it as how community activism can easily and quickly achieve what glacial governments cannot.
Still others have called on a renewed drive for self-reliance. “Don’t depend on the government to help you.”
Sibert said there should be a jurisdictional process in place to remove whales.
“It was not on private land. The State Lands Commission said they would do a survey to determine that, but it would have taken seven to 10 days,” Sibert said.
The council member said it was a resident who got on the Internet and “found a perfectly reliable way to do this at a cost of $8000.”
Sibert said the county insisted it was not responsible. “We raised the money locally, including Bob Morris. It was totally legal. We had a NOA permit.”
The do-it-yourself contingent had found an operator in Ventura that had done nearly a dozen tow outs.
“They hooked up to the tail, put tension on it and they floated the whale off. They sailed 25 miles offshore to a designated GIS location approved by the feds and by permit,” Sibert said.
He said there are real issues involved, first for the residents, the issue of odor. Another issue is water quality. “Would the city get zinged for the poor water quality?” Sibert asked.
A number of area surfers have also raised the concern that the “chum line” of scent generated by the decomposing marine mammal could potentially attract sharks, although sharks are not known to prey on fin whales, they could be attracted by the smell.
 “The tow operator said it was the first time private citizens had paid for the tow,” Sibert said.
 The California Wildlife Center and Santa Barbara Natural History Museum conducted a necropsy on the remains and determined that the cause of death was a ship strike that reportedly broke the young male fin whale’s back.
Many area residents and visitors had harsh words for the biologists who conducted the dissection because the large quantities of entrails and other organs that were left strewn on the beach following the necropsy.
While the biologists had authorization to remove portions of the whale, souvenir seekers, including local residents, reportedly observed carrying away vertebrae and other bones did not and were violating state and federal law. They could potentially face fines.
 The whale was towed into deep water where it is unlikely to wash ashore again.
Fin whales can reach a length of 80 feet and live for an estimated 80-90 years. The fin whale that washed up at Little Dume Cove was around 40 feet in length.
Fin whales are an endangered species that is frequently observed migrating along the California coast.
While dead sea lions are a frequent occurrence, this is only the second incident involving a dead whale in the Point Dume area in the past 35 years, according to longtime residents.
A young gray whale washed ashore in almost the same location during the winter of 1978. Its cause of death was not determined.

More Questions Over Malibu Lagoon Project Arise Following Storms

BY BILL KOENEKER

Critics of the Malibu Lagoon restoration project descended on council chambers this week at a Malibu City Council meeting voicing a chorus of “I told you so.”
Activist and surfer Andy Lyon said after the first winter storms the proposed remedies for the lagoon have not happened and the restoration is anything but a fix.
“It is not going to be fixed. Nothing is going to go right,” he said. “The breach is going the wrong way. It opened wrong. Where are all of the new plants?”
 “The creek is not flowing into the lagoon channel and consequently the lagoon [water] is trapped and the water is stagnant,” he asserted.
He accused the council of “failing miserably” in their leadership role and that now the city is left with a failed project that is “off kilter and too late to fix.”
“I want to see you do something about this,” he said.
Another activist Wendy Werner agreed. “My focus is on water quality. There is water coming from Malibu Road. What is being discharged by Malibu?” she asked.
Werner described the results of the restoration as a disaster. “I'm glad the water board is going down there. The sediment is going into the channel. Why is there no monitoring on the eastern end for sediment? We found eight dead birds and very little plants,” she said.
Activist Hamish Patterson said he tried to be silent about the lagoon and see what would happen. “You don’t listen to the people who live here,” he said, while accusing city officials of too easily bending to outside forces.
State Parks official Craig Sap was called upon by council members to give his assessment of the status of the lagoon.
He said the final aspects of the restoration have been slowed down by the recent rains.
The State Parks spokesperson said they expected a 10 to 15 percent mortality for the native plants sown several months ago.
 “The problem with the natives is they grow slower. Some of those were just cuttings. We are not fully planted,” he added.
Councilmember John Sibert said he went down to look at the lagoon. “It does look pretty awful. What about Wendy's questions? Where do we get assurances?”
Sap tersely replied, “Call me.”
Councilmember Laura Rosenthal asked when the planting would be finished and was told by the end of January. “Don’t you have to be done by January?” Rosenthal asked.
Sap answered, “Yes.”
Rosenthal wanted to know if the water quality was being tested. Sap said, “I don’t know.”
Rosenthal told Sap she would appreciate it if the States Park official was coming to council sessions he would be prepared and bring information with him.
Councilmember Joan House wanted to know about breach management issues and how involved was the group. “That is separate from the lagoon issues,” he said.
Mayor Lou La Monte wanted to know if there was any monitoring on the eastern side and Sap told him he would need to find out about that.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said the city investigated the Malibu Road drain, which is pumped to Legacy Park for treatment. It is leaking water because of a pumping problem. “We think that is what is causing the overflow,” Thorsen said, adding repairs would be made to fix the leak.

Chamber Comes Out Swinging to Oppose Consideration of Retail Formula Measure

•  Planning Staff to Use Handhelds to Record Attendee Opinion

BY BILL KOENEKER

Privately, some folks are already crying foul about this week’s city-sponsored community meeting on retail formula scheduled for Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at City Hall.
Those suspicions were prompted by planning officials saying they are going to have a limited number of polling recording devices for those who attend. How will those polling devices be distributed? If a only a select few will have them, who will gain access and how would any representative vote of all the people attending be tabulated?
Planning Director Joyce Parker Bozylinski brushed aside those concerns, saying they have about 100 devices and did not think anyone would go without one.
Associate Planner Joseph Smith said the wireless devices, which are “very simple,” are provided by the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University at a cost to the city of $750.
“They were used before at a previous town hall meeting,,” added Smith, who said the city staff will conduct the meeting and the Davenport representatives will operate the equipment.
“They have option keys from one to six. The questions are on the screen. those tallies will be turned into a report.”Those private complaints were coupled with the letter that was sent out by the Malibu Chamber of Commerce urging its members to oppose any retail formula regulation. “Are they going to try to stack the meeting? Will they gain an upper hand in securing the polling devices?” Those were other concerns expressed about the chamber’s outright opposition.
The letter states, “It is imperative that decision-makers hear from business owners like you. We ask you to join us at this meeting in telling the city that a formula retail ordinance would do more harm than good. We are on record opposing any further regulation that we deem unnecessary, potentially harmful and fraught with unintended consequences.”
The letter was signed, “Malibu Chamber of Commerce.
Parker Bozylinski also addressed that during an interview Monday night. She said the council voted on the direction it wants to take and simply opposing what the council has already voted on will not be helpful for planners.
Last month, the Malibu City Council voted 3-2 to move forward with drafting a formula retail ordinance that would require any new “formula business” in the Civic Center to obtain a Conditional Use Permit in order to open a new business in shopping centers of 10,000 square feet.
Chamber members in the letter were told chamber head Don Schmitz communicated concerns about such regulation to the council the night of the vote and expressed support for “a more free market approach because both the city’s and independent studies show that Malibu maintains a healthy diversity of both national and local retailers.”
The chamber letter stresses that one of the core problems is in how “community-serving businesses” is defined.
“How does one define such a thing? Chipotle and Radio Shack are two prime examples of why additional regulation makes no sense. These stores would fall under the general definition of a formula business, yet they are also the very epitome of a business serving our community. So how is an ordinance addressing a perceived problem. The answer is, it is not.”
The planning director said what will be helpful for planners is comments from the public about, yes, a definition for community business or if the process should require maybe a site plan review or something similar rather than a CUP.
“Just opposing it, will not be helpful for us,” Parker Bozylinski added.
The chamber letter goes on to state there is a “narrow majority” pursuing a path, that will ultimately, albeit inadvertently, hurt the business community.
Some council members agreed that not enough of e public has been heard from. “I’m getting calls all the time from people who express a different view,” said Councilmember Joan House.
The chamber letter went on to say, “We believe that promoting and supporting locals starts and ends with the community, both the residential and business communities, working hand in hand, not the government making decisions for residents where to shop.
“The Malibu Chamber has a history of finding creative ways to promote local businesses. We believe that in a free market society, consumers speak with their wallets.”

Public School Activist Group Outlines Its Objectives

• Goal Is Unification of Malibu District Serving 90265 Area

BY LINDA BELL

Advocates for Malibu Public Schools, or AMPS, held a meeting last week at Malibu City Hall to discuss their future plans and goals. 
The first issue on the agenda was the November 2012 election in which the three AMPS slate candidates—Karen Farrar, Seth Jacobson, and Craig Foster—lost bids for seats on the Santa Monica Malibu United School District Board.
According to Foster, who is AMPS president, the candidates did “‘pretty well’ when you consider that Santa Monica has 83 percent of the electorate.” 
Foster said there has been ongoing discussion on how to alter the election process to give Malibu a better chance at the polls, but that process is set by the Santa Monica city charter.
The AMPS president added that changing the charter is “unlikely because the SMMUSD school board likes the way it is.”
Also discussed was Measure ES, the $385 million school bond that was on the November ballot. It passed with about 68 percent  approval—with over 50 percent in Malibu. ES’s passage is beneficial locally as Malibu is slated to have input on how monies are spent.
Next on the agenda was fundraising, which is directly tied to the list of goals AMPS seeks to accomplish, Foster said.
Funding needs are predicated on the feasibility of AMPS driving force—the separation of Malibu public schools from the overall Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, the technical term for which is “unification.”
According to Foster, separation/unification requires nine criteria—”all of which we meet.” He indicated, “We are really now down to every group understanding why this is beneficial to them.”
The AMPS president said, “This is what we have to work out now, and what we will work out.” 
Foster added, “There are other existential concerns. What does this mean for us? For the city of Malibu? For the city of Santa Monica? For the teachers’ union? For the classified staff?” 
Foster emphasized that the first step in unification is political. All stakeholders either need to be neutral or in agreement, he explained. Once that happens, Foster said the decision goes to Los Angeles County Office of Education, which looks at the petition and says whether it has met the nine criteria.
“However, whatever they say, you can go on to the next step, which is the State Board of Education. If the state approves the separation, the decision goes to the electorate,” continued Foster.  It is not yet established who gets to vote in this election, but the expectation is that “everyone [in the current district] would vote.” The whole unification/separation process could take two years, he said. 
“AMPS was created for more than separation,” Foster emphasized.  The effort that got underway about two years ago has a broader mission that he summed up as, “More quality for Malibu kids.” 
Foster said “If separation doesn’t happen, we still want to make the district better.”

Local Store Agrees to Stop Sales of Rodenticide That Impacts Wildlife

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

The Malibu CVS store will no longer stock products containing anticoagulant rodenticide, which is known to poison wildlife.
  The Malibu Agricultural Society contacted CVS with the request to discontinue sales of the product.
CVS District Manager Steve Yamamoto informed the local activist group last week that CVS would comply with their request and remove the rodenticide from the Malibu store.
Malibu residents renewed the call for a citywide ban on the sale and use of anti-coagulant rodenticides following necropsy results that indicate that the young female mountain lion found dead in Point Mugu State Park in October had low levels of two anticoagulant compounds that are found in rodenticide in its system.
 A press release from the National Park Service states. "Anticoagulants lead to uncontrolled bleeding and have been confirmed as the cause of death for two other mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains during the last ten years.
Anticoagulant rat poison  causes the animal that ingests it to bleed to death internally.
Animals that depend on rodents as a food source become victims of secondary poisoning. Even at non-fatal doses the chemical can build up in the animal's system causing immune system problems that can include sarcoptic mange and frequently lead to a slow death.
“Thank you very much for all of your efforts in dealing with this important issue of rodenticides in Malibu,” wrote MAS secretary Kian Schulman, in response to Yamamoto’s announcement.
 “As you can see from the example of the recent mountain lion death at Pt. Mugu State Park, decreasing the amount of rodenticides in the natural environment here is critical.
“This decision by CVS to remove rodenticides from the Malibu store demonstrates real community responsibility. We will enthusiastically spread the word of this contribution.

Council Approves LCPA in Order to Update Malibu’s Public Access Map

• Revisions Needed for Additional Access Sites

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council voted this week to adopt a resolution approving a Local Coastal Program Amendment to the LCP Land Use Plan to update the city’s public access map and directed staff to submit the LCPA to the California Coastal Commission for review and certification.
The map shows the existing public beach parks throughout the city, as well as, lateral beach access areas along the shoreline and vertical beach access points between the nearest public street and the beach, according to city planners.
“I was amazed at the amount of beach access,” said Councilmember Laura Rosenthal. Also apparently impressed, Mayor Lou La Monte said, “They found 582 access points!”
The existing map was certified by the Coastal Commission in September 2002.
Since that time, 23 new lateral Offers-to-Dedicate, or easements, have been recorded in the city.
The current standard of practice for municipal planners for acquiring new OTDs involves a voluntary offer by a property owner as part of a new development project. When an owner voluntarily offers the access, staff includes the OTD as a condition of approval in the project approval resolution in order to memorialize the offer. The majority of the 23 new lateral OTDs were acquired through voluntary offers, according to city planners.
As part of this LCPA process, the updated map incorporates the additional 120 lateral OTDs/easements and 19 vertical easements for a total of 539 lateral OTD/ easements and 50 vertical easements, planners report.
The maps make a distinction between lateral public accessways that are recorded as OTDs versus those accepted and rerecorded as easements.
The updated map makes a distinction between vertical public access easements that are constructed/open to public use versus those that are not yet constructed or open to public uses.
There are several maps provided in the Land Use Plan including the LCP parklands map, which shows the location of existing/ future trails and public parkland.
In 2011, the city council adopted an updated LCP parkland map whereby the map was retitled, according to planners, as the LCP Parkland and Trails System Map and also included several new trails envisioned for the city and showed the location of all existing parkland.
The parkland map shows all public access and recreation landward of the first public street along all public access and recreation seaward of the first public street along the coast in the form of lateral and vertical beach access and public beach parks.
Combined, the parklands map and public access map make up the breadth of existing public access and recreation in the city, as well as helping staff guide for future recreational opportunities, according to officials.

Publisher’s Notebook

• Banning Rodenticides: The Next Hurdle •

BY ANNE SOBLE

That yet another source of rodenticides for use in the Malibu area has been eliminated is a cause for celebration by humans and all the furred and feathered critters that call Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains home. Not only is the fact that these poisons have been removed from another store’s shelves a victory in its own right, but the way it was accomplished sets an example for how to bring disparate public and private interests together for a common good.
Kudos go to the people and groups who, along with the local media, worked on the issue in a steadfast and diligent manner. The parties communicated intelligently and civilly. There were no personal attacks or threats. The participants on all sides of the issue treated each other with respect, avoiding the demonization favored by those who seem incapable of understanding that name-calling and vindictiveness perpetuates conflict.
The calmness that prevailed allows somber assessment of the adverse effect that the use of anticoagulant rodenticides has on wildlife and domestic pets. These poisons can be eaten for days by rats and mice, causing the toxins to accumulate to lethal levels for creatures quadruple or more the ingestor’s size. Predators or scavengers, such as owls and coyotes, consume the dead or dying rodents, then the toxic consumption continues step by step up the food chain until lethal doses are found in mountain lions.
Making headway with the residential purchaser is an incentive to take the issue to next level and reach out to commercial enterprises that employ these chemicals as part of routine service packages. Every Malibuite should insist on knowing what products are being used on their property, and if anticoagulants are on the list, they should indicate they want alternative approaches.
Government and large corporations are heavy rodenticide users at schools, parks, shopping centers, hospitals and other locations. It has been documented that they are used at Malibu public schools. Has anyone asked if they are used at Malibu City Hall?
A coalition of groups called on the California Department of Pesticide Regulation this week in Sacramento to end the use of these second-generation anticoagulants that have been linked to the poisoning of wildlife, pets and even children. The groups stress the need to restrict these dangerous products because harm to wildlife is widespread throughout the state. Researchers at the University of California found anticoagulants in 70 percent of mammals and 68 percent of the birds that they studied. State Fish and Game Department research data is similar.
Rodentproofing of homes and other buildings by sealing openings and eliminating food sources; providing owl boxes to encourage natural predation; and utilizing traps that don’t involve toxic chemicals, is highly successful and eliminates the need to jeopardize so many vulnerable species.
There now is a petition before the federal Environmental Protection Agency asking that agency to work for a curb on anticoagulants. The EPA has been investigating rodenticides for over a decade, but the agency’s primary focus has been that the product packaging is unsafe and thus there should be increased control.
However, wildlife and other environmental resource protection groups want to see the EPA speak out on more than better packaging. These groups want to see the use of second-generation anticoagulants prohibited. Critics maintain that these toxins should be viewed the same way that chemical weapons of human mass destruction are regarded.
 Much of the sales promotion for home pest control services appears to rely on attempts at catchy jingles and humor. But who’s going to think it’s funny when they find out that what “eradicate” means is the wiping out of California’s wildlife?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Another Public Entity Steps Up to the Trough with Fee Proposal

• County Flood Control District Schedules Hearing on Clean Water Tab for SM Bay Watershed

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

The Los Angeles County Flood Control District has issued an official notice to Malibu property owners of a public hearing on the proposed Los Angeles County Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure, which would assess an annual “clean water fee” on all properties in the Santa Monica Bay Watershed.
Although the brochure mailed out by the LACFCD states that “87 percent of homeowners would pay $54 a year or less, typical condos would pay $20 or less [and] no single-family home would pay more than $82,” some residents are reporting that they have received notice their rate might exceed the $82 amount. A notice provided to the Malibu Surfside News states that a one acre parcel in the Point Dume area would be assessed at $83.
Because the assessment rate is designed using a formula that is geared toward urban development, many Malibu property owners may find that they are assessed at the highest rate—$82, due to the size of their property rather than the hypothetical amount of runoff generated.
According to the notice, “The measure will help protect public health and safety and improve water quality in Los Angeles County waterways, including the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers, creeks, lakes, bays, coastal waters and beaches. “Funding would be available to cities and unincorporated areas for multi-benefit clean water projects to: protect and increase drinking water by increasing groundwater availability; clean up water by keeping pollutants, chemicals, pesticides, toxic metals, infection-causing bacteria and trash out of waterways and off local beaches; expand the use of natural methods of cleaning up water, such as directing stormwater to filter through new wetlands areas before it reaches coastal waters; [and] create partnerships between cities and county unincorporated areas to develop projects strategically located in each watershed. “[It is also anticipated that it could]: Create thousands of local jobs in fields such as construction, engineering, landscaping and environmental cleanup; create clean water education programs to emphasize the importance of keeping trash, used motor oil, and other toxic liquids out of the storm drain system; and install thousands of filters and screens in gutters and storm drains throughout the county to trap trash and pollutants before they can enter waterways.” The LACFCD website adds, “This measure allows cities and the county to work collaboratively on water quality projects where they make the most sense, from inland all the way to the ocean, rather than having a string of very expensive and perhaps redundant projects paid for by each city. Projects funded by the measure may be single-purpose, or may be multi-purpose and multi-benefit, cleaning water, recharging groundwater supplies, and beautifying public spaces.
The measure sends 40 percent of funds directly back to cities and county unincorporated communities in proportion to the fees paid by property owners in that area. Cities make decisions about the funding of local water quality projects, which can include new and existing services, such as sweeping streets to capture trash and maintaining storm drains and filters.
The measure also sends 50 percent of funds to watershed authority groups, regional collaborative
groups of cities and county unincorporated communities in that watershed. Watershed authority groups make decisions about funding regional water quality projects in the nine watershed areas.
The remaining 10 percent of funds goes to the County Flood Control District for countywide water quality monitoring, projects for improving water quality, perfor mance oversight and technical assistance to cities and regional collaborations.
If the Board of Supervisors votes to approve the measure ballots will be sent to property owners affected by the measure. A majority of property owners must oppose the proposed fee to prevent the measure’s passage. If the measure is approved the fee will be collected every year with property taxes. The fee can be revisited and raised provided the increase is approved at a public hearing and election.
The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, at 9:30 a.m., in the Board of Super visors Hear ing Room, Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
A protest form is part of the brochure being mailed to each property owner. Persons who would like to submit written testimony should include their parcel address and assessor’s parcel number and address their comments to Executive Officer, Board of Supervisors, P.O. Box 866006, Los Angeles County, CA 90086.