From the Publisher

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Arnold York

Cinema Paradiso came to Malibu last week in the form of an outdoor showing of “Shark Tale” under the stars at Bluffs Park, part of the CineMalibu program sponsored by the city of Malibu and The Malibu Times. We estimated 300 people, probably one-half kids, sitting under the stars and munching on Little League hot dogs or their family picnics. This coming Saturday night it’s “Two Brothers,” the story of two tiger cubs. Come on down and bring a blanket, or a folding chair for us old folks, the kids and your dog Spot. And watch where you step, because that might be me you’re stepping on.

Hollywood may be crying about box office this summer but it was boffo for the Malibu Chamber of Commerce biggie, the Malibu Arts Festival, which beat last year’s numbers. The two-day event brought in many new vendors and artists from all over the country and some very interesting new stuff. Many of the vendors left smiling, and it was obvious that Malibu buys art because the waiting list for artists’ booths seems to grow each year.

At the same time the art festival was going on there was also an auto show at Bluffs Park, which brought in the car fanciers. That event also had a good-sized crowd. Now I know that some of you are upset with the summer traffic, but I sort of figure that’s the price we pay for living in paradise. And, at the end of the summer, the visitors are all going home and we get to keep Malibu to ourselves for the next nine to 10 months. That being said, I still think there is something wrong with the sequencing of the lights on Pacific Coast Highway, particularly at Cross Creek Road. I expect traffic to back up on the weekend. What I don’t understand is why getting to the Civic Center at noon on a weekday should include waiting in a line extending back to Las Flores Canyon Road. That phenomenon is new and bears examination.

There is another thing coming our way and that’s this upcoming battle about wastewater treatment. Frankly, like most of you, my eyes glaze over when I have to read a wastewater story (wastewater, by the way, is just sewage with a fancy name), but I know I shouldn’t jest because we’re talking bucks, perhaps big bucks, that many of us will have to shell out to fix or upgrade our septic systems.

The truth is that the feds (via the Clean Water Act) and the state (through a variety of other acts) really don’t like septic systems. They think the systems pollute, and ultimately that pollution drifts into the creeks and ocean. Before any cries of outrage, I concede that a well-designed and maintained septic system works fine.

The problem is that a great deal of our septic systems are old and not well-designed or maintained, and many are a problem.

That’s a regulatory nightmare for the city, which has the feds and the state breathing down its neck. And it’s a damn expensive problem for many in Malibu. Maybe it’s time we started thinking (and I hesitate to say this) about another solution, and that doesn’t mean some giant sewer. What it does mean is probably a series of small treatment plants servicing neighborhoods or larger areas in Malibu.

The truth is that Malibu looks like paradise and smells like Calcutta, and we’re going to have to fix it. Doing it lot by lot is probably the most expensive solution. Maybe there is a better way.