Best Letters of 2009

The Malibu Times selected the letters of 2009 from its readers that best give an overview of the issues that were most important to the residents of Malibu.

Distorted priorities

The new Malibu disgusts me. As a local resident of 37 years, I read the local papers to get information on what’s happening in our town. Last week, front-page headlines reported how almost 100 residents were at the high school to support or not support lights at the football field. In the weeks’ prior, the local papers discussed the high school drug problem. In the latest paper, in a letter to the editor, some joker suggests that the parents aren’t to blame nor is the school to blame. Here is my take on what is happening to Malibu as a city.

Old Malibu is dying. The small town feeling is gone; the small town caring is gone. People that have lived here for 20 years or more are being sued because their animals make too much noise or their trees obscure the view. When I was in sixth grade, a kid named Peter Williams went to Zuma Beach on Qualudes, went swimming and never was seen again. The very next week all the students from all the Malibu schools went to anti-drug seminars put on by the sheriff and other speakers. They then started an after-school project called Peter’s Project. It lasted a little while, and then faded away. They made a little park across from the Malibu cinema dedicated to Peter Williams. A few years later they leveled it to make a building.

I understand that you make more money off a retail store than off a park dedicated to one of Malibu’s fallen children. The main reason I wrote this letter is simple. Two years ago, high school student Laurel Singer took her own life. I went to the school the next day to offer help to the students and friends of Laurel Singer. I was politely dismissed by all who work at the school. I was told that they would have a community meeting on teen suicide in four or five weeks. So when this meeting happened, I was surprised, astonished and downright angry at the turnout of the meeting. A girl commits suicide and there was a turnout of 20 people to discuss teenage suicide. That’s right, 13 people that were employees of the school and six people from the community of Malibu, two of whom weren’t even parents. So when I see almost 100 people show up to bitch about lights that might change their evening sky, I finally had to say something. Malibu needs to take a look at itself. Moving forward in this world does not mean erase history as you go.

Alain Tuggle, Jan. 29

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No justice served for fire victims

I am not a fire victim and for that I am extremely grateful. I still have my home, my personal possessions and heirlooms. I haven’t been at the mercy of friends and family to keep a roof over my family’s heads. I haven’t had to pay a mortgage on a house that no longer exists or forced to foreclose because my insurance only paid a fraction of the rebuild costs. I haven’t struggled to get out of bed each morning, while trying to get my life back to some sort of normalcy.

Fifteen months after the Corral Fire, the struggle continues; lives turned upside down because a group of cowards had total disregard for human life.

The injustices to these courageous victims was perpetuated again last week after they appeared before Judge Lesley Dunn and made heartfelt and emotional pleas for justice in the sentencing of Brian David Franks. Franks, a 28-year-old man, was about to be sentenced to 300 hours of community service and five years probation after agreeing to testify against his cohorts. This is the very man who stole the bundles of firewood that were used to ignite the wildfire and the same man who drove away and didn’t have the human conscience to dial 911 at a time when we were most vulnerable.

As much as I was disappointed with Judge Dunn’s failure to sentence Mr. Franks to something that reflected both the crime and the consequence, the weight of responsibility falls most squarely on the prosecutor, Ann Ambrose, who represented the fire victims and the people of California in a completely reprehensible and shameful manner. After all, it was Ann who negotiated the deal in exchange for Mr. Franks’ testimony without ever once contacting a fire victim, or seeing the destruction first hand. Even Judge Dunn was interested to know how Miss Ambrose determined that 300 hours of community service was a fair sentence. You would think that it was carefully calculated and took into consideration the hundreds of fire victims, the 5,000 acres burned, the 53 homes destroyed, the 37 homes damaged, the dozens of dogs, cats and wildlife that perished, the many families displaced and the injuries to six brave firefighters who risked their lives to save as much as they could.

Believe me, we were all shocked and outraged to hear Ambrose respond after an inappropriate smile to Mr. Franks’ attorney and say, “It was just something that was negotiated.” This, of course, came after she was an hour late for the sentencing.

Ambrose’s actions were almost as unaccountable and reckless as the actions of the men responsible for starting the fire and she should be embarrassed and ashamed of her callous methods and that justice was not served under her lead. The people of California and the victims deserved better. We will continue to remain united and see that justice is served, with or without Ambrose involved.

Paul J. Morra, Feb. 26

The unkindest cut

Sharon Barovsky thinks that she can do a better job sculpting Trancas Ridge than God’s own creation. At the Feb. 23 hearing for the appeal of the EIR for Trancas Park, Councilmember Barovsky said she thought the ridge would look better after grading and developing the area. She must have been very sure of this from the outset, because she never looked once at the appellant’s PowerPoint presentation which demonstrated, using the city’s own pictures, that the cut called for in the park plan would destroy most of the rock outcropping, including the large cave on the north side of the ridge.

Perhaps Mrs. Barovsky agrees with Justine Petretti, who wrote in her Feb. 19 letter, “there are plenty of caves for the bats to relocate to.” I personally shall miss the escarpment and the cave when they are gone. I will miss seeing the bats flying around at dusk. I will miss seeing the rising sun light up the rock outcropping that stretches the length of the ridge. And I will miss seeing the sunset behind it.

Mrs. Barovsky verbally re-sculpted Trancas Ridge by proclaiming that “it’s not a ridge, it’s a hill,” perhaps to get around the laws that protect ridge lines and rock outcroppings. I invite anyone to take a look at the Save Trancas Ridge site on YouTube, or better yet, to drive to the north end of Paseo Canyon Drive, and judge for themselves if they are looking at a ridge or a hill.

It makes one wonder about the City Council’s stewardship of the rest our beautiful Malibu coastal mountains. This is something that I shall bear in mind come the next city election cycle-that Sharon Barovsky, Andy Stern and John Silbert voted, 3 to 2, to cut the top 28 feet off a rock escarpment ridge line rather than consider redesigning the layout of a community park. I commend Council members Jefferson Wagner and Pamela Ulich for their willingness to look at alternatives that would better preserve our mountains and wildlife habitat.

Kim Belvin, March 19

Credentials, please

I’m confused. I read the letter from Mr. Steve Uhring where he said Malibu Township Council (MTC) is a “watchdog” for Malibu. But who elected them to be? I’ve never heard of them. Do I have a representative on their board? If I do, who is it and who elected him or her? As far as I know, none of my neighbors have ever been asked by MTC for their opinions. If they really are representative of the Malibu community, who are their members? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before they should call themselves “watchdogs.” All I know is, they are suing the City, which is costing me my tax dollars to defend, and all because they don’t want a park that most of my friends want. Just who are they?

Julia Goldberg, May 14

Image problem magnified

Malibu has a huge image problem-elitist, rich, spoiled, etc. Instead of prominently featuring the horrific defeat by Coastal, state parks closing and marijuana dispensaries, this paper put a totally superfluous story and photo about Miss California Malibu not just above the fold, but under the fold and all over the fold. If she was the Yorks’ daughter I could understand this, but now we look even more ridiculous to visitors reading our paper.

Susan Tellem, June 25

Fishy practices

As the only Malibu Team participant in the recent spear fishing tournament at Leo Carrillo, a Marine Life Protection Act supporter, and Point Dume diver since the early ‘60s, I feel compelled to respond to the rhetoric.

The Chumash Indians had the right idea for Malibu: fishing only from shore or on paddle boards, with no scuba or boats. I usually spear one or two average size fish (better tasting, less accumulated pollution) from shore when I want seafood. Compare this with a commercial fishing boat dropping 20 to 30 baited hooks on the same reef, seven days a week, 365 days a year! Why aren’t there more fish? You do the math. Take a lesson from Northern California when all our abalone was eliminated here. Above San Francisco no scuba or commercial harvesting is allowed. The game is so plentiful, last month I captured my three abalone limit in one breath.

The way the MLPAs are set up is a joke. The “ecologists” ask the fishermen what areas we would like to fish. We tell them this is exactly what we want. Even when we have the statistics backing up our renewable and selective practices, big money and lopsided political appointees get their way every time. Just eliminate the commercial fish drain. Let the unrepresented little guy, if he/she has the desire, go out and get their fresh dinner.

Commercialization has ruined this country. Beef, dairy and fish farms, high in fat, have destroyed and polluted the earth. They are the main cause of heart disease and strokes. Commercial fish and dive boats pound the same reefs over and over again. To leave the smallest carbon footprint, Malibuites need more small organic fruit and veggie farms for our main sustenance and the ability to occasionally catch our local wild fish. Please don’t destroy the soul of Malibu.

Bill Ernst, Sept. 16

Friday night fun

I am a freshman football player at Malibu High School. I have been looking forward to playing under the lights for many years. Now I will not be able to because of the actions and fear of some neighbors. I live in Malibu Park and I love having my school so close. It seems that MHS is the only place big enough in Malibu so that we could all get together for Friday night football games and other things for the community. Now these have been taken away.

For many years now, the tall MHS pool lights have been on five nights a week until 9 p.m. How come those lights haven’t ruined the environment? I was looking forward to decorating the freshman float for homecoming. How can these people take these great events away from us kids? I thought that the adults were supposed to think about what was good for kids and our social, physical and mental health. What else would you like us to do on Friday nights? Hang out on your street? Party? Let me know.

Will Rosenthal, Oct. 15

Money down the drain

It now seems inevitable that Malibu will be required to join the 21st century and implement a modern sewage system. Something the city government should have known was coming for years, but in their arrogance and lack of foresight has managed to be caught by surprise with no plan in place. The best they can come up with is to threaten to charge residents in the affected areas $500 a month to build a new sewage system. It’s irresponsible and alarmist to float such a proposal before all other options are explored.

Isn’t this just the thing city governments are created for? To provide the common infrastructure necessary for a modern community. This is the very reason we pay taxes. If Los Angeles County were once interested in bringing a centralized sewage system to Malibu, wouldn’t it now make sense for our city to investigate if that interest still exists. Or how about looking to the federal government for help? This seems like just the kind of project “stimulus” funds were intended to be spent on.

Or maybe the geniuses in our city council could take some of those funds that go to PR firms and subsidizing millionaire shopping mall owners and redirect them to pay for a sewage treatment plant. Or maybe we don’t need two new parks in Malibu.

Most other cities seem to be able to deal with their sewage without charging residents $500 a month. I would hope our city could figure it out too.

James Ledner, Nov. 12

What’s going on?

Not so fast! The story you reported a couple of weeks ago about the Malibu Lumber Yard being bailed out by the city is astonishing and certainly warrants further investigation. It is amazing that [Richard] Weintraub would have the nerve to complain that they can’t sell enough $200 T-shirts and those fish tanks he absolutely had to have. This story brings to mind the Wall Street bailout. The community has to start reacting to this City Council more effectively.

The fact that they are changing the meetings to Tuesday to black out our press and having meetings behind closed doors is outrageous. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but aren’t we living in a Democracy!

Jo Ann King, Oct. 29

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