LA County Fire Will Continue to Serve Malibu Community

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During its March 9 meeting, the Malibu City Council discussed a variety of issues including county fire department fees and the proposed ordinance to require locking dumpster bins citywide. 

LA County Fire services developer fee

Council voted unanimously, 5-0, to continue being a part of the county’s fire services program. The program provides fire and medical emergency services to the City of Malibu. 

If council had voted to opt out of the program, it would have needed to decide how to fund and provide immediate and future fire services to the city, according to Environmental Sustainability Director Yolanda Bundy. 

The approved developer fee—a sum of $.9705 per square foot of new development—is not being applied to Woolsey Fire rebuilds, Bundy said, meaning fire victims will not be asked to pay into the program.

The county-administered program collects the fee from developers of new builds across the LA County Fire service area and uses the money collected to fund projects like the construction of new fire stations in “high-growth” areas. The program was adopted and implemented by the LA County Board of Supervisors in 1990, and most recently updated on Jan. 28 of this year.

Per the agreement between the City of Malibu and the fire district, the fee must be adopted within 60 days of the Jan. 28 update.

During public comment, Malibu resident Ryan Embree said that the money provided by the city in the fire developer fee “essentially leaves the city of Malibu and is never spent here on anything that would directly benefit us.

“It was said years ago that, yeah, if they build more fire stations far away, like in Santa Clarita, that eventually maybe some of those fire trucks might come help us if we had a big fire here. Well, history’s shown that that actually wasn’t the case,” Embree said. “It’s time the City of Malibu established its own fire developer fees, so that the dollars collected on new development stays in the city.” 

Council Member Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner asked Council Member Rick Mullen, a current LA County fire captain, for his thoughts, given his fire background. 

Mullen said these fees are to ensure that new fire stations are constructed when large new developments are built. Malibu’s small size and lack of population growth, coupled with its already existing four LA County fire stations, Mullen said, means there is not a need for new stations in Malibu.

Locking bin ordinance

Council approved the first draft of the city’s new locking dumpster bin ordinance, which requires businesses to use dumpsters with double-walled plastic lids, lock bars and padlocks. There will be a second reading and adoption of the ordinance during the council’s March 23 meeting.

The ordinance mandates that dumpster lids be closed and locked at all times except when “disposing, removing or inspecting” waste, according to Environmental Sustainability Analyst Christine Shen.

Estimated fees, Shen said, would be a one-time lock welding fee of $103 and an additional $10 fee per pick-up of locked bins.

“For example, a business with six times per week pick up, will pay up to an additional $240 per month for each bin,” Shen said.

Historically, city staff have inspected restaurants and businesses twice a year to check for compliance, Shen said. 

“Twice a year is not enough,” Malibu resident Judy Villablanca said during public comment.

Villablanca suggested inspections take place four times a year during the first year of the ordinance, three times during the second year and, “based on the rate of violations, you could go down from there,” she said.

During their public comments, Villablanca, Poison Free Malibu Co-founder Joel Schulman, Patt Healy of the Malibu Coalition for Slow Growth and Malibu resident Georgia Goldfarb all raised concerns over the lack of specified fines in the ordinance.

Assistant City Attorney Trevor Rusin clarified that the locking bin ordinance is subject to the city’s administrative fine schedule and penalties.

Council Member Skylar Peak said “it would be wise” for the city to issue warnings before imposing fines and to budget for four inspections a year, rather than two.

The council voted, 5-0, to adopt the motion. As part of their motion, council members directed city staff to budget for quarterly inspections during the first year that the ordinance is approved. 

Other issues discussed during Monday’s meeting included the continued effort to require fire-resistant landscapes citywide; Mayor Pro Tem Mikke Person’s permanent planning commission appointee, David Weil; and updates regarding the Santa Monica-Malibu School District separation.