Leadership Shake-Up at Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station

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Careful readers of The Malibu Times may be used to seeing the name Lieutenant Jim Royal in print, but after an announcement made during the Monday, Jan. 28, Malibu City Council meeting, it appears Royal will no longer be the station’s public face around Malibu.

Royal has spent many years serving as the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Malibu liaison, but as of Monday, Malibu’s interim liaisons were Sgt. Jim Braden and Deputy Mike Treinen—both of whom have also served Malibu for years.

“We’re sad that Jim Royal’s not here,” Braden said, addressing council Monday night. “I worked with Jim Royal for many years.”

Braden went on to discuss his history in Malibu—where he began in 1999—and offer his and Treinen’s services.

“We’re here to aid with the rebuilding of the community and to aid in any future natural disasters … [we will] all work together and get through them as well as possible and with limited losses,” Braden said.

Royal’s job as liaison included attending city events and most council meetings, as well as being a main point of communication among stakeholders, the city, press and law enforcement. There was no word about why Royal was reassigned and whether it had anything to do with a shake-up within the LA County Sheriff’s Department, which has been undergoing leadership changes since the swearing in of new Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Royal did not attend the meeting on Monday.

MRCA project timelines ‘unfortunate’

In a move many in the Escondido neighborhood saw as an act of ill will, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority—under the direction of Joe Edmiston—filed permit applications for two projects in Malibu just weeks after Woolsey Fire flames were quelled. The public comment period for the projects—one at Murphy Way and another at Broad Beach—were already past the halfway point by the time city staff discussed the items on Monday.

Several residents of Murphy Way came to complain that the project—a trail connector between Escondido Falls and Murphy Way, which residents worry will increase foot traffic on the winding road—was being pushed through with little regard for local residents, many of whom lost homes in the fire.

“The review period started on Jan. 4 and it runs for 45 days, through Feb. 18,” Planning Director Bonnie Blue described. 

“We agree it’s a very unfortunate timeline, given the location of the project in the middle of the Woolsey Fire burn area,” she continued. “It doesn’t allow the community—the citizens in that area—a very convenient time to consider what will be an impactful project in their neighborhood.”

The city was working to raise awareness of the issue and inform people of public meetings coming up to comment on the two projects, but council requested instead that the MRCA be asked to pause going forward in light of the destruction of nearby neighborhoods.

“If the council would like us to send a letter… we can certainly do that, requesting an extension of the public review time or just a postponement all together,” Blue suggested. 

In response, council voted to bring back a version of a letter to be sent to the MRCA, as well as postponement of the environmental review board meeting that would have discussed the items–to allow more time for the public to generate comments and feedback. The item will also go before the planning commission. 

“So, we have no control over when they submit this and then the 45-day review period just starts?” Council Member Mikke Pierson asked Blue. “This basically just happens under the law and then we have to respond?”

“That’s correct,” Blue replied.

“I would suggest that we put in a request for extension of this for a minimum of six months into 2019—I would say June or even later than that,” Council Member Skylar Peak suggested. “I find it disheartening on one hand that they’re trying to push this through at this time. We’re all very much aware that the western end of our community has had destruction beyond belief, and for our residents with burned-out homes or non-burned homes that are in burned-out areas to have to deal with this on their plate right now is really disheartening.” 

FEMA responds to flood maps appeal

The Federal Emergency Management Agency wrote a letter responding to the city’s request that changes be made to proposed new flood maps that could have massive impacts on home values and insurance costs—one that arrived in the midst of the Woolsey Fire.

On Monday, City Manager Reva Feldman announced the agency had extended the time the city had to reply to the correspondence. Initially, FEMA provided a 30-day window for further appeal, but that was extended to April due to the Woolsey Fire emergency.

“We asked for an extension on those appeals and they have extended the deadline to April,” Feldman explained. “In the meantime, the city has asked its consultant Moffat & Nichols to work on a response and they are working on that.”