Pre-election council to appoint new member


The pre-election city council unanimously decided Monday night to appoint a fifth member to fill the vacancy created by last month’s death of Councilman Harry Barovsky. The appointee will serve until Nov. 7, when a special election will be held to fill the vacancy.

No current member of the council may be appointed to fill the vacancy, wrote City Attorney Steven Amerikaner in a memo to the council.

Under state law, the ordinance on procedures for dealing with vacancies was “introduced” at Monday’s meeting, Amerikaner said. It should be officially “adopted” at least five days later (April 15).

Because of the scheduled Planning Commission meeting April 17 and scheduling conflicts of current council members, the council will meet April 22, a Saturday, 9 a.m. at City Hall, to appoint Barovsky’s successor and adopt the ordinance calling for the special election.

Three of the four members must approve the appointee, Amerikaner said. Responding to questions from Councilwoman Joan House about what would happen if the council could not agree on the appointee, Amerikaner said a subsequent council could make the appointment.

La Costa/Carbon Beach view corridor

In other action Monday, the council unanimously voted to oppose applications by Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan’s wife, Nancy Daly, and political heavyweight Eli Broad to the California Coastal Commission to modify permits on required public view corridors on their Carbon and La Costa beach properties.

Their proposal attempts to shift the view corridor away from their lots and move it to the location between La Costa and Carbon beaches.

City Manager Harry Peacock’s letter outlining the city’s opposition to the proposed permit modifications were to have been delivered to the Coastal Commission meeting in Long Beach yesterday (Wednesday) by Richard Terzian, Malibu’s former interim city attorney. Terzian will also be addressing the commission on use of Ramirez Canyon by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

Attorney Todd Sloan said the commission’s anticipated approval of the permit modifications was a “blatant issue of special interest meddling” with Coastal Commission procedure. The process was “unusual in its speed, lack of notice and quietness,” Sloan said.

La Costa/Carbon beach residents Peg Yorkin and Freddie Fields told the council the Coastal Commission had not considered safety issues. The site proposed for a new public access point, 21704 Pacific Coast Highway, is the third most dangerous curve on Pacific Coast Highway, with more than 30 accidents occurring in the last six months, they said.

Purchasing Civic Center land

Acting on Councilwoman Joan House’s mantra to “keep all options open,” and in a move to lessen the bitter debate between the Malibu Coastal Land Conservancy (“no growth” ) and Malibu Bay Company development deal (“slow growth”) factions, the council approved, 4-0, Councilwoman Carolyn Van Horn’s resolution supporting funding to acquire Civic Center land. The council eliminated language it feared might cause the city legal difficulties.

The resolution, introduced last Thursday but sent back to City Attorney Amerikaner for rewording, also directs staff to prepare a timetable and budget for the Open Space Feasibility Study recommended in the Economic Plan the council approved Thursday.

Councilman Tom Hasse, the only incumbent who did not have to run for re-election, and who, along with House negotiated the proposed Malibu Bay Company development deal, at first said he was against the resolution because it left the city legally vulnerable but later, after the amendment to the resolution, voted for it.

Reading from a memo prepared by former City Attorney Christi Hogin, Hasse last Thursday said the resolution as originally worded played into the “tension” of the city as regulator and purchaser of property.

The argument could be made that zoning decisions could be used as a subterfuge to reduce the purchase price in subsequent condemnation actions, and the city could be liable for costs, Hasse said.

There is no reference in Monday’s resolution to the original resolution’s wording, “undeveloped land in the flood plain of the Civic Center area for the purpose of preserving open space and constructing a functional wetland that will help treat the polluted flows of Malibu Creek.”

As an indication of the problems the city might face in finding the “willing sellers” required to receive funding to purchase land, Don Schmitz, who recently submitted plans to the city for a Civic Center project known as “Malibu La Paz Ranch,” said there have been no wetlands “since the Ice Age,” and he was not interested in selling to the conservancy. His application is consistent with the General Plan and he will work to include a wetlands system in the Civic Center, Schmitz said.