Council delivers death blow to GHAD

After a long and tortuous road of lawsuits and legislative appeals, the City Council on a 4-1 vote, with Councilwoman Joan House voting no, finally dissolved the Las Tunas Geological Hazardous Abatement District.

The city originally attempted to dissolve the GHAD in 1993 after the district produced a plan for preventing erosion on Las Tunas Beach that the city deemed unacceptable. Challenging the city’s right to dissolve it, the GHAD sued the city in 1994. The trial court ruled in the city’s favor, but a court of appeal said the state law on GHADs did not permit the city to undertake the dissolution.

The city then turned to Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, who won passage of a bill that granted cities the dissolution power. But that law inadvertently breathed new life into the GHAD, at least temporarily, because of a loophole in the law that made the city assume responsibility for the district’s financial obligations.

Shortly before a council meeting during which the district would have been dissolved, the GHAD board of directors voted to treat all of the district’s expenses as loans that must be repaid. Theoretically, that meant that if the council dissolved the district, the city would have to repay members for their expenses. More than $2 million was originally set aside for the formation and the functioning of the GHAD.

The city then filed suit to force the GHAD board to rescind the resolution. Board member Lloyd Ahern said Monday that the board had recently done so.

But there may be more GHAD story to tell.

As part of the dissolution, the council ordered the GHAD to disperse funds under a lawsuit settlement with TICOR Insurance Company. Those funds were originally provided to pay for an erosion plan for Las Tunas Beach and to remove the groins that used to sit along the beach.

But Ahern said the GHAD board has no jurisdiction over the funds that remain under the settlement agreement.

“Our lawyers say we have no jurisdiction, but [the council] ordered us to do it anyway,” said Ahern.

In other matters, the council voted unanimously to install a storm water treatment facility at the Malibu Road drain, commonly known as the “mystery drain.”

The 24-inch diameter storm drain carries runoff from Malibu Road, Malibu Colony Plaza and a private golf course into Malibu Lagoon, and is considered one of the major sources of the lagoon’s pollution. The facility will treat dry-weather flows and disinfect the water before it discharges into the lagoon.

Also unanimously, the council named Harold Greene and Carl Rimple to the Native American Cultural Resources Advisory Committee.

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

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