Several activists were honored with Way of Life awards for their contribution to the community.
By Nora Fleming / Special to The Malibu Times
At the halfway mark for her “100 Day Plan” for Malibu’s future, Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce to host a breakfast Monday morning to evaluate the city’s success at meeting her pledges.
Guests met with chamber staff and the mayor to discuss Conley Ulich’s goals for improving Malibu’s public safety and the Civic Center area, developing a green friendly city, protecting businesses and residents from the paparazzi and expanding the city’s arts.
Conley distributed her “100 Day Plan” shortly after being reelected to the City Council on April 8.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Rebekah Evans moderated questions and ideas from guests about how the city could be more successful at meeting the plan’s set agenda and adding new items.
“We need to make sure we are connecting with the business community by bringing in large and small businesses,” Evans said. “I want [Conley Ulich] to hear ideas she should be looking at.”
Residents voiced support for a revival of a farmers market. Malibu has been without one since the Cornucopia Foundation lost its lease on the county-owned Civic Center area property three years ago. The breakfast attendees also expressed a concern about the loss of mom and pop businesses and a lack of practical service stores. The mayor encouraged people to come to council meetings to talk about their issues with the other city leaders.
“I am just one of five [on the council],” Conley Ulich said. “It takes three votes to make a majority. I want to include the community because we need public comment.”
The first item on the “100-Day Plan” is to increase public safety by teaming up with fire safety representatives and state and Los Angeles government officials to protect individuals and homes from future fires. This would help to reduce fire risks and provide resources that would protect residents from potential fires.
The Town Hall Meeting to address these issues is scheduled for this week on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Malibu Performing Arts Center. Brad Davis, city emergency services coordinator, said the meeting will address precautions both businesses and residents can take to protect themselves during a fire.
Davis said the city has already distributed a survival guide to residents through the mail and has partnered with the Red Cross to increase local shelters and evacuation spots so residents do not have to flee far from the city in case of a fire. He said at least 50 percent of businesses fail following a natural disaster, but pre-planning can improve the likelihood of a business’ future.
Conley Ulich also discussed her work with fellow city councilmember Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner on a task force that is meeting with Civic Center business owners on community issues and traffic concerns.
Anne Payne, president of the local Optimist Club and member of the MalibuGreenMachine, suggested the task force include Civic Center area residents and allow them to contribute their thoughts and suggestions. Payne said there are five groups of residents in that area alone with differing viewpoints.
The mayor said the city is moving toward meeting goals of “greening” the city, improving arts as well as paparazzi protection. Conley Ulich hopes to implement a wastewater plan and adopt a green building code, among other initiatives.
“Way of Life” awards were also presented by the mayor to individuals she thought had directly contributed to the community and went “beyond the call of duty,” she said.
Kirby Kotler, an Arson Watch volunteer and service worker with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, was honored for his work during the Corral Canyon fire in October. Kotler helped residents flee an area condominium complex, housed fire victims in his home and helped two residents escape from a car stuck on Pacific Coast Highway, seconds before it caught on fire.
An award also went to Jose Lopez, an attendant at the Shell Station on Pacific Coast Highway off Cross Creek Road, for his service during the Canyon Fire. Lopez worked around the clock for two and half days straight, keeping the Shell station open. It was the only station that stayed open on Pacific Coast Highway in that area.
Conley Ulich said she almost ran out of gas on the way to meet the governor during the fire. Coasting on fumes, she found the Shell Station open after passing several that were closed.
“He saved me and countless others,” Conley Ulich said.
Also honored was GreenMachine President Jo Giese. She spoke to the attendees about the progress of the group’s project to enhance the medians on Pacific Coast Highway for 1.4 miles from the Civic Center to Malibu Canyon. Giese encouraged residents to contribute tax-deductible donations, as construction of the medians is supposed to start this upcoming fall, but $600,000 is still needed.