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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

‘State of the City’ Address Puts Spotlight on Staff

• Mayor Takes New Approach to Annual Update on Municipal Issues

BY BILL KOENEKER

Mayor Lou La Monte, who shoots videos for a living, decided to turn to that medium for his State of the City address last week, while speaker Los Angeles County Third District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district encompasses Malibu, went the traditional route.
The mayor told the Malibu Chamber of Commerce breakfast attendees that he wanted to do something a little different than the usual presentations at the annual breakfast.
“I did not want to do another power point presentation,” La Monte said about the short video attributed to city staffer Alex Montano.
The mayor said he wanted to focus on the people who work for the city. “The strongest thing we have is people. [In the video,] you get a glimpse of the people, who make this city run,” he said.
“The city is well governed. In the next few minutes you will see shots of the staff at City Hall,” he added.
The video with a voice over by La Monte takes a look at some of the new features the city offered over the past year such as the popular library speaker series and improvements to the website among other projects.
Many of the various programs the city has undertaken are mentioned in the context of the various departments assigned to the tasks.
A good deal of the video was shot showing close-ups of the various staff members as their departments were mentioned.
Almost all of the department heads got some face time as the mayor talked about such things as the city’s Areas of Special Biological Significance, which he said is the largest in the state.
The ASBS program is a marine conservation plan prompted by state mandates for basically protecting the kelp beds and other intact sensitive offshore ecological areas.
La Monte said all of this is being done without raising city taxes. The mayor said municipal officials are using a branding of the Malibu name to help generate revenue without impacting the taxpayer. “There is no increase in taxes,” he added.
Yaroslavsky started off by saying the city’s management today is a far cry from 18 years ago.
The supervisor said his predecessor Ed Edelman would tell him that Malibu makes up 10 percent of the population of the district, but takes up to 50 percent of a supervisor’s time. “That is not the case anymore,” Yaroslavsky said.
The supervisor said the county weathered the recession better that any other large metropolitan entity in the nation. “The reason; a practical belief in living within your means. Almost 18 years ago, we were on the road to bankruptcy,”
He credited the employee unions in helping by agreeing to make sacrifices. “We did not do like Los Angeles. There was no pay cut. No pay raises. No cost of living increases,” he added. “We did give raises this year.”
“We socked away a lot of money. We did not spend it. Just because you have a good year, you can’t infer they will all be good years. That was the state’s mistake.”
Touching on the highlights, the supervisor said, Pepperdine University got approval for the second phase of the university’s growth.
“We have utilized Pepperdine for more disasters than I can think of,” he said.
Yaroslavsky also talked about the land that has been acquired under his shift. “We just purchased land in Escondido Canyon and will also acquire Ladyface Mountain. More is coming. It was decently priced and has resources. The Santa Monica Mountains are a great resource. It is great to have both the mountains and the ocean. Malibu is unique among coastal communities. That is a value and a blessing,” he said.
He briefly mentioned the opening of the lagoon and said it showed a cooperative effort.
Yaroslavsky also mentioned traffic safety funding and the need to continue to fund deployment of law enforcement. “High speed will not be tolerated. PCH is not an average boulevard. The consequences to speeding is people get killed. We are on it. I think we are making a difference despite the fatalities,” the supervisor said.
The supervisor was unequivocally critical of the Waterworks District 29. “We have a 19th century system.”
He once again showed his support for arson patrol, saying there has been $300,000 set aside for it. “The sheriff has more money than they know what to do with,” he quipped.
Yaroslavsky announced that there is a dedicated helicopter for arson watch over the Santa Monica Mountains. He said inoculating our own properties is the next best thing to a response.  “We are overdue for fire,” he cautioned.
He briefly pitched funding for the stormwater projects and acknowledged, “There is a lot of political opposition.”
The supervisor noted that because of term limits he will be leaving his office Dec. 31, 2014.

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