Activists, biologists urge City Council to implement Land Use Policy 3.18


To start off the City Council meeting on Monday, Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Silverstein asked to end the meeting in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day. City Council addressed the implementation of Land Use Policy 3.18, the use of rodenticides, insecticides, and herbicides, and continued the discussion for the Malibu Community Labor Exchange Permanent Trailer Project.

For public comment, Pepperdine student Kayla Nia made a presentation on safety in Malibu schools. Nia interviewed parents, teachers, and staff members to get their personal opinions on armed security on campus. The common concerns and suggestions Nia found were campus hardening and ensuring schools are safer in case of an outside or inside threat. Her study also said providing a silent panic button and a QR code with an anonymous platform for reporting would be convenient. Also suggested was having private security or sheriff’s personnel who are responsible for patrolling the three schools and providing informational videos to send to parents.

City Manager Steve McClary gave a report and said, in regards to returning to in-person meetings, the council can address the item in November or wait until the new council is seated in January. McClary also gave an update on the Malibu Farmers Market and their concerns and said the city is continuing to work with the county and the public works department to ensure safety for pedestrians. 

“The city is really a third party here, we’re not the land owner and we’re not the party to the agreement, but we do recognize the value of the farmers market to the community,” McClary said. “And so we’re trying to find some other ways to accommodate and provide additional space for the farmers market as they work this construction period.” 

McClary said they have met with the county to see if they can relocate the farmer’s market at the Malibu Chili Cook-Off site, but said LA County health regulations said farmers’ markets are not permitted to operate on a dirt lot. 

Planning Director Richard Mollica presented the implementation of Land Use Policy 3.18, the use of rodenticides, insecticides, and herbicides. 

National Park Service biologist Cathy Schoonmaker, who has been studying bobcats, coyotes, and mountain lions for two decades in the Santa Monica Mountains, spoke during public comment and shared their findings with the widespread exposure and impacts from anticoagulant rodenticides.

In one study, they found six different compounds of poison detected in the animal’s liver. 

“We know it’s unintentional, unfortunately, though people putting out rodenticides poisons for various types of uses are impacting the food chain of these animals,” Schoonmaker said. “We’ve seen bobcats with severe mange with this mange being associated with anticoagulant rodenticide exposure. UCLA did a study that found that animals that had anticoagulant rodenticide also had suppressed immune systems which prevented them from being able to fight the disease of mange.” 

Schoonmaker said in the last two years, they tested 16 mountain lions and found all 16 were positive for multiple compounds of anticoagulant rodenticide, including two six-week-old kittens and four full-term fetuses. 

Schoonmaker ended her presentation by informing the council of other poisons, such as bromethalin, which is a neurotoxic rodenticide. Bromethalin was detected in 10 out of 16 mountain lions tested between 2020 to 2022, including P-54. Labs have detected bromethalin in non-target animals, including raccoons, skunks, gray foxes, and coyotes.

Speaker Jenn Guess has worked in the intensive care unit for 10 years and has seen firsthand the impact these poisons have caused. 

“With the amount of rodenticide currently in the environment, it would be a conservative to state that most of our predators and scavenger patients have likely been exposed to the toxins at some point in their lives,” Guess said. “It is impaired that 3.18 is implemented as soon as possible in order to stop the trauma and death these poisons cause in non-targetted species.”

After hearing the speakers and addressing questions, council voted to provide staff with direction regarding the proposed policy to implement Land Use Policy 3.18 and prepare an amendment.

The next item on the agenda was the Malibu Community Labor Exchange Permanent Trailer project. 

MCLE is a local nonprofit that provides support to modern and low-income individuals looking for work. MCLE has operated on the county property since the early 1990s. The existing office trailer needed to be relocated to accommodate SMC construction. The county planned to accommodate the permanent trailer on the northwest corner of the lot. In January 2022, the council allocated $98,000 CDBG funds to purchase and install an office trailer for MCLE. 

Deputy City Manager Elizabeth Shavelson presented the project overview and requested the council for direction. 

Shavelson said staff has identified two options to potentially address the wastewater requirements for council consideration: transferring wastewater allocations or reopening the assessment district. 

Speakers included MCLE board members who requested the council to consider a new permanent location for MCLE.

Silverstein motioned to receive a definitive report and concrete recommendation from staff to move forward. Motion passed.

The last item on the agenda was the Santa Monica College Measure SMC. At the request of Silverstein and Councilmember Steve Uhring, the council considered adopting Resolution No. 22-44, which strongly opposed Measure SMC, which would impose a debt upon the residents of Malibu if passed at the Nov. 8 General Election. Mayor Paul Grisanti moved the resolution and Uhring second. Motion passed. 

The meeting ended in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, per Silverstein’s request.