News Briefs

L.A. County discharged pollution into Surfrider Beach, court rules

The County of Los Angeles violated the federal Clean Water Act when it discharged polluted water at Surfrider Beach in Malibu, according to a court ruling issued Tuesday last week.

The District Court in Los Angeles also found L.A. County liable for discharging polluted water into a marine coastal preserve on the northern edge of the county, one of three dozen designated areas of special biological significance along the California coast, a report by the Los Angeles Times stated.

The decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the National Resources Defense Council and Santa Monica Baykeeper.

The two environmental groups hailed the decision as a significant step in the battle to protect the fragile marine ecosystem in northern Los Angeles County.

“This decision will go a long way to protect the health of some of the most sensitive coastal waters and at one of our most popular beaches,” Tatiana Gaur, staff attorney for Santa Monica Baykeeper, said in the Los Angeles Times report.

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The court rejected claims by the two groups that the county was also responsible for violating the Clean Water Act when it discharged polluted runoff into Malibu Creek and the Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and San Gabriel rivers.

Motorcyclist killed in PCH crash

A 54-year-old Oxnard man died April 25 after a collision on Pacific Coast Highway near the border of Malibu and Ventura County, authorities reported. The victim was identified by the Ventura County Medical Center as Juan Manuel Rodriguez. According to reports in the Ventura County Star, Rodriguez was riding northbound on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu at about 1:30 p.m., near Dear Creek Road, when a vehicle driven by a 19-year-old Simi Valley woman pulled out from the right shoulder and onto the highway. Rodriguez struck the left side of the woman’s vehicle and was ejected over the hood of her car. He came to rest in the middle of the road.

The California Highway Patrol reported that the driver of the vehicle that struck Rodriguez was not aware of his proximity. Rodriguez was not speeding, but was close enough to her vehicle that there was no way for him to avoid the collision. Rodriguez was reportedly conscious when he was taken by ambulance to St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. However, his condition declined at the hospital and he died shortly after 2:30 p.m.

Malibu man killed in Santa Barbara accident

One Malibu man was killed and another suffered minor injuries in an accident Wednesday night of last week when the car they were in flipped over on Highway 154 in Santa Barbara County.

Greg Solomon, 45, of Malibu was killed when driver Bert Barrera, 38, swerved the car they were in to avoid rocks on the highway and ran off the road, according to the CHP. The car crashed into a rock and a hillside, and then flipped over back onto the highway, ending up on its roof. The roof caved in on the passenger side, killing Solomon. Barrera suffered minor injuries.

The two were traveling to a Chumash casino from Malibu. CHP officials said there was no alcohol involved and that they were both wearing seatbelts.

Street light maintenance planned for Malibu Canyon

Southern California Edison will be performing street light maintenance work on Malibu Canyon Road, between Malibu Knolls Road and Harbor Vista Drive, on May 12 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

At least one lane will remain open during work hours, but two intermittent road closures with 10-minute intervals may be expected. Motorists and pedestrians are encouraged to plan for extra time and urged to exercise caution when in the construction area.

More information can be obtained by calling 805.494.7062.

Court date rescheduled for Point Dume rape suspect

The man who attempted to rape a woman who was jogging at Point Dume Preserve State Park last month is scheduled to appear in Van Nuys Superior Court June 1, after his April 23 court hearing was dismissed.

Christian Marcus Verdin, 31, on April 6 at Van Nuys Superior Court was charged with assault to commit rape, robbery, grand theft auto and assault with a deadly weapon, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

Verdin was arrested April 2 in an area within the City of San Bernardino and taken into custody without incident. He is being held on a total bail amount of $321,000.

The 35-year-old victim had been jogging in Point Dume Preserve State Park on March 12. At the conclusion of her run she walked to the edge of a cliff and was then grabbed from behind by the suspect, who, she told authorities, attempted to sexually assault her. The victim struggled and was able to break free; she jumped and slid approximately 150 feet down the cliff.

A local resident who lives in the area said he talked to several witnesses who heard the woman’s cries and went to her aid.

The victim was taken to a local hospital for treatment. She sustained abrasions and bruises predominantly from the fall down the face of the cliff.

Firefighters to begin brush clearance inspections

Los Angeles County firefighters will perform brush clearance inspections of more than 39,000 wildland-area homes beginning May 1 in an effort to save lives and property from wildfire.

This is the first step in the county Fire Department’s annual “Ready! Set! Go!” public education program designed to teach residents how to protect themselves and their properties.

Last year, the Station Fire killed two county firefighters and burned more than 160,000 acres, becoming the largest wildfire in county history.

May 1 launches brush clearance inspections for most areas of the county; June 1 begins the inspection period in coastal areas.

Each property must be in compliance with the county’s brush clearance requirements. Firefighters will visit each property to inspect it for weeds, combustible debris and dead or dying vegetation that may present a potential fire hazard.

To help property owners comply with county brush clearance codes, the department’s Web site offers a free list of 12 local companies that provide hazard reduction services. They are available online, at www.fire.lacounty.gov/Forestry/BrushManagementHazardReduction Contractors.asp.

BY Olivia Damavandi

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