Pollsters find their calling in parks bond

The City Council Monday approved a set of questions for an opinion poll that will be conducted next week to find out whether voters would support a bond measure for parks, ball fields and the restoration of wetlands.

The telephone poll will be conducted in the early evening hours of Nov. 14. About 400 randomly selected, registered voters will be interviewed for approximately 15 minutes.

The survey questions deal largely with a possible $30 million bond measure on next year’s ballot and the increased taxes that will be used to pay off the bond.

The city would like to know whether residents are willing to pay higher taxes in order to purchase property for the creation of parks and recreation space, and the restoration of wetlands. The properties in which the council is most keenly interested, the Chili Cook-Off site and the parcel in the Civic Center west of Stuart Ranch Road, are slated for development by the Malibu Bay Company.

Poll participants will hear either the arguments for or against the possible measure, and they will be asked to judge the arguments’ strengths and weaknesses. Participants will also be asked whether they would support, as an alternative to the bond measure, developers donating park land to the city in return for the right to develop their property at a higher density.

The council members had planned to also ask Point Dume residents their opinion of speed tables, but Councilman Harry Barovsky led an effort to have those questions removed from the survey. The potential development in the city and the possible acquisition of open space “is the single most important issue the city is going to face now, and in the future,” he said.

In other matters, the council awarded grants to three nonprofit organizations in the community. The Malibu Stage Company received $24,000 to assist with finishing the construction of its theater near Point Dume. The California Wildlife Center was awarded $10,000 for a hospital to treat injured wild animals, and the Malibu Agricultural Project’s Cornucopia Farms received $5,000 to pay for administrative expenses as it works to establish an organic garden and farmers’ market.

During the discussion, Councilwoman Carolyn Van Horn disclosed, to the apparent surprise of her colleagues and city staff, that she is vice president of the Malibu Agricultural Project. She asked City Attorney Christi Hogin whether she should recuse herself from the vote on the grants. Hogin said that Van Horn should not participate in any discussion on the matter, and she suggested Van Horn leave the dais.

“Mere membership in a community group is not a problem, but being on the board of one does create a problem,” Hogin said.

During public comment, resident Marissa Coughlin said she felt the city had not widely publicized the availability of grants for nonprofit organizations, and she asked the city to better publicize the next time grants are available.

“I’m concerned that council members are only approaching certain groups with that information,” she said.

The council also named its appointments for the new city commissions. The new commissioners are listed below. The council member who appointed the commissioner is indicated in parentheses.

Public Safety Commissioners:

Ryan Embree (Councilman Tom Hasse)

Edward Albert (Van Horn)

Carol Randall (Barovsky)

Dan Hillman (Mayor Pro Tem Walt Keller)

Alan Carson (Mayor Joan House)

Telecommunications Commissioners:

Nidia Birenbaum (Hasse)

Patricia Hart (Van Horn)

Georgianna McBurney (Barovsky)

Efrom Fader (Keller)

No appointment yet (House)

Public Works Commissioners:

Libby Sparks Lippman (Hasse)

John Wall (Van Horn)

Don Wallace (Barovsky)

Frank Basso (Keller)

No appointment yet (House)

Parks and Recreation Commissioners:

Dermot Stoker (Hasse)

Sam Kaplan (Van Horn)

No appointment yet (Barovksy)

Ted Bale (Keller)

No appointment yet (House)

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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