A Stern road ahead

Andy Stern is sworn in by son Alex as mayor of Malibu at Monday night's City Council meeting. Photo by Heather O'Quinn / TMT

Andy Stern is appointed mayor of Malibu by his peers.

By Jonathan Friedman/Assistant Editor

Sharon Barovsky handed the mayor’s gavel to Andy Stern at Monday’s City Council meeting and Ken Kearsley was installed as mayor pro tem for the second time.

Prior to stepping down after her year in the ceremonial position as head of the City Council, Barovsky reflected upon her time as mayor. She said one of the biggest accomplishments during her term as mayor was the Bluffs Park deal, which when completed will make the city owner of the portion of the park containing the ball fields. Barovsky also praised the city’s progress in dealing with Civic Center land issues. An agreement is said to be near completion for the city to acquire two acres of the Pepperdine-owned Wave property to accommodate a wastewater treatment facility. Also, the city has received letters from property owners willing to sell the Chili Cook-Off site and two properties in the Civic Center area near Malibu Knolls.

Barovsky said the council was helped by having a good city staff behind it, and that the council is made up of hard-working members; she listed some of the individual projects including Pamela Conley Ulich’s fight to get Malibu to receive services from the county library system equal to the amount it pays into the system.

“You’re never going to have a better City Council,” she said.

Stern was sworn in as mayor by his 14-year-old son, Alex. He thanked Barovsky for what he said was her “hard work” while serving as mayor. He then spoke about his other council colleagues as he admitted they had failed sometimes.

“Just read the papers,” he said jokingly.

But he said failure had not stopped the council from trying to make other accomplishments.

Referring to the Bluffs Park deal, Stern said, “If we were afraid of failure, we would have never accomplished what many told us was not possible.”

Stern added, “This is an activist council in the most positive sense.”

With Stern at its helm, the council faces many challenges in the next 12 months. The offer by Malibu Bay Co. to sell the Chili Cook-Off site is only on the table, according to a document sent to the city from the company, until Dec. 31. The city must look for a way to raise the $25 million to purchase the property. Also, the city is working with Santa Monica College to determine how the money generated from Measure S, passed by voters in November, will be spent. The city hopes to acquire other properties for ball fields and parks.

Additionally, there is the ongoing saga of the Local Coastal Program. The city was finally forced to accept the document package drafted by the California Coastal Commission after the state Supreme Court refused to hear the city’s challenge late last year. There are still other lawsuits remaining in court that could do away with the LCP, a set of documents loathed by many in Malibu. The lawsuits include Marine Forests Society v. California Coastal Commission, which was heard by the Supreme Court earlier this month, with a decision anticipated sometime soon.

Malibu’s greatest hope lies with the amendments to the LCP it sent to the Coastal Commission last summer. The Coastal Commission staff is analyzing them now, and they will go before the commission for a vote before the end of the year.

“These amendments are not exactly what we wanted,” Stern said. “But rather, they were made in the spirit of compromise so once and for all we will have a document that we can enforce, meets the letter and spirit of the Coastal Act and also respects property rights of our residents.”

Stern was elected to the council in 2002. He served the past year as mayor pro tem. Prior to his service on the council, he was a member of the Planning Commission. Kearsley was elected to the council in 2000 and re-elected in 2004. This will be his second stint as mayor pro tem, previously holding the title from April 2002 to April 2003. Kearsley was mayor from April 2003 to April 2004. He also was on the Planning Commission before being elected to the City Council.