Council green lights ‘Potty Art’ exhibit

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Former Councilmember Jeff Jennings is appointed to conservancy advisory board. Some patrol cars now have inflatable deputies.

By Knowles Adkisson / The Malibu Times

In a 3-2 decision, the Malibu City Council members held their noses and gave the go-ahead to the Porcelain Project, a community art project proposed by Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich.

Ulich has enlisted local artists and actors to transform 20 toilets, urinals and sinks that have been recycled from the Malibu Library reconstruction project into works of art. She was requesting authorization Monday to display two pieces at the Michael Landon Center and 18 at the Malibu Lumber Yard, before auctioning them off on Earth Day, April 22. Ulich wanted to donate the proceeds toward the construction of a wastewater treatment facility in the Civic Center area.

“Whether we like it or not, the toilet is an integral part of our city’s history,” Ulich said at a previous council meeting when announcing the project.

Ulich hopes the art project will educate children about recycling as well as the history of Malibu, which became a city in 1991 in part to avoid having a regional sewer system.

Though the project will not cost the city money, Council members Lou La Monte and Jefferson Wagner both said they had received emails and phone calls from residents who opposed a “Potty Art” exhibit given the city’s acrimonious history with septic issues. La Monte suggested that instead of donating proceeds from the sale of the items toward a wastewater treatment facility, to give the money to the library. Ulich agreed to donate the proceeds to the Friends of the Malibu Library or another book group.

Wagner and La Monte were still concerned that displaying the urinals or toilets on city property would bring unwelcome media attention to Malibu.

“I just have a problem with it being displayed at Bluff’s Park,” Wagner said.

But Mayor Pro Tem Laura Rosenthal said, “I actually think this is a pretty good compromise… the purpose is to teach, the purpose is for re-use, and I think that it will raise money and raise awareness of [recycling] and raise more money for the library.”

After Mayor John Sibert added his support to the motion, Wagner speculated, “What if we were selective in the pieces that we displayed at the Bluffs Park? Possibly the sinks or something other than the urinals and toilets.”

Ulich would not be swayed. “I’m going to have to defer to the people who are doing it… Unless you’re going to look at all the sinks and you’re going to start picking out the urinal or the sink, then it is going to be a city project.”

Jennings elected to SMMC Advisory Committee

The City Council elected former councilmember Jeff Jennings by a 4-1 vote to replace Dennis Seider as the city’s representative on the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) Advisory Committee.

Jennings was chosen over Public Works commissioner Steve Karsh and Pat Healy of the Malibu Coalition for Slow Growth. Jennings is a former mayor of Malibu and currently serves on the Planning Commission. He was nominated by Councilmember La Monte.

Councilmember Wagner questioned the message that the appointment of Jennings might send to the SMMC. The city has had an acrimonious relationship with the conservancy, specifically its head, Joe Edmiston, over land use issues.

“Although I realize that Jeff Jennings has [spent] a lot of time here with the city, and he should be remembered and honored for that, I think that sometimes his stances might be a little strong on property use,” Wagner said.

Wagner voted for Karsh, whom he had nominated, saying that he would take a more measured approach to the committee.

Inflatable deputies

Several Sheriff’s patrol cars parked along Pacific Coast Highway used as decoys now have inflatable traffic deputies to complete the illusion.

Councilmember Lou La Monte said that as part of his work for the PCH Safety Ad Hoc Committee, he had become concerned that motorists would figure out the cars were empty and continue to speed. La Monte said he subsequently contacted a man named Joe Biggins whose company, The Inflatable Crowd, makes inflatable extras for movies. Biggins later installed inflatable officers in some of the decoy cars at no expense to the city.

“If we can only get them to give tickets now,” La Monte joked.

But Councilmember Wagner noted half-seriously that the inflatable officers were “a traffic hazard, because some people [may] pull up to them asking for directions.”