2012 in review: July-December

July

  • Perhaps in a sign of an improving economy there were four barges parked off Malibu for the July 4thfireworks, each rumored to cost in the neighborhood of $60,000. 
  • Pepperdine University self-reported several violations of the NCAA code and agreed to vacate wins and reduce the number of scholarships in five athletic programs for playing ineligible players, among several other violations. 
  • The Canyon at the Peace Park, off Kanan Dume Road in the county area of Malibu, agreed to tear down several buildings that were built without permits and pay a fine of $525,000 in a consent cease and desist agreement with the California Coastal Commission. 
  • Newly elected Councilmember Skylar Peak, age 27, is taken into police custody and spends five days at a county hospital while undergoing an involuntary psychological evaluation after a late-night altercation with security guards at the Point Dume Plaza shopping center. Peak later responded to the charges and said that charges of battery, vandalism and erratic behavior were blown out of proportion and that he is fit to serve on the council. He confirmed that he was recently diagnosed with a bipolar disorder by a doctor at UCLA and that he is currently taking lithium, a common medication used to treat bi-polar disorder. When asked if he was fit to serve on the City Council, he responded “My answer is absolutely, 100 percent, there’s no question.”
  • The state auditor discovers that the State Parks Department apparently had a $54 million unreported surplus stashed away during a year when State Parks threatened to close 70 parks due to lack of funds, leading the agency’s director to resign and to the firing by the state of the deputy director. 
August
  • A large bust by the Los Angeles Police Department recovered 3,000 pieces of jewelry which are now being held in the LAPD downtown evidence locker. Several Malibu homes had been burglarized earlier and one resident recovered some jewelry from the burglary. 
  • Malibu Judge John Merrick passed away at 93. Merrick one of the founding fathers of Malibu, a World War II veteran, outdoorsman, father of eight, sketch comedy writer, and longtime judge with 26 years of service in Malibu. 
  • The Malibu City Council gave the green light to fronting $6.5 million in design costs for the Civic Center sewer with the commercial property owners to vote in November to pay a special tax to fund the system’s design. 
  • The California Highway Patrol is once again doing some additional traffic enforcement on PCH as they transit through Malibu to the county areas they also patrol. The Sheriff ’s Department patrols the City of Malibu. The agreement between the city and the state in effect puts more patrol cars onto PCH, where a number of serious accidents and fatalities have occurred.  
     
  • The transfer of the mayorship and the mayor pro tem in Malibu is normally a staid affair, by custom rotated through the council for a fixed period with the mayor pro tem becoming the next mayor in succession. Councilmember Skylar Peak, as the top vote-getter would have normally been elected by his colleagues as the next mayor pro tem when Laura Rosenthal stepped down and Lou La Monte stepped up to become mayor. Several on the council were worried, though, about his ability to serve as mayor pro tem, what with an ongoing police investigation and his recent mental health problems. In a 3-2 vote the council passed over Peak and appointed instead longtime council member Joan House after first offering the pro tem to John Sibert, who refused it. 
September
  • 31st Annual Chili Cook-off
  • Broad Beach, once one of the widest and most beautiful beaches in Malibu, with sand dunes highly reminiscent of the Atlantic Coast, has all but disappeared and currently there is a restoration project underway in which the homeowners are funding an estimated $20 million beach restoration. The project has hit a snag because they have been unable to locate a sand source for the new wider beach and until that happens the beach’s homes sit behind only an emergency wall. 
  • In 2007 a downed power line allegedly started a brush fire that swept through Malibu Canyon, burned out the Malibu Presbyterian Church, the Lilly Lawrence Castle high on the hill causing total damage of 36 vehicles, 14 totaled structures, 19 others damaged and three firefighters injured. 
  • Three of the companies charged with responsibility for the power line have agreed to settle for $12 million but the two largest, Southern California Edison (SCE) and another cell company NextG, haven’t settled and they face a trial in 2013, along with up to $74 million in potential fines proposed by state investigators if they lose. 
  • Christopher Benton, 27-year-old son of Pepperdine President Andrew Benton, was sentenced to two years in state prison as part of a plea bargain for making criminal threats and possession of a firearm. Christopher Benton, who had a long history of drug problems, was arrested on the Pepperdine campus by the Los Angeles Sheriff ’s Department. 
October
  • Water Works 29, the county-run water district that supplies Malibu and Topanga with water, wants to raise Malibu’s already high water rates 25 percent over the next five years, roughly 5 percent per year. The water district attributes the rise in costs to an aging infrastructure (meaning aging pipes and pumps), higher operating costs and strangely enough to residents’ increased conservation of water use in recent years, which has cut back on the district’s income stream. 
  • The ongoing controversy and local resentment about local stores and restaurants leaving came to a head with two longtime, 20-plus year institutions indicating they were closing their doors as of the end of this year. Gone are Guido’s Restaurant in the Malibu Village, a 20-year-old popular hangout, and Point Pizza, another 20-year mainstay of the Point Dume Center. Neither seemed able to work out a new lease with the center management according to the business owners. As often happens in Malibu, change was met with protests and picketers. Both center owners said they would be replaced by locally owned restaurants. 
  • The field lights at Malibu High School, challenged in court by some of the neighbors, passed its first legal test when the court held that they could go ahead with the installation of the lights despite an ongoing lawsuit filed against the school district. The last two home games of the season will be lit but what the court will do in the future with next year’s schedule is yet unknown. The City Council had previously approved the 70-foot lights. 
  • The ever dangerous Pacific Coast Highway claimed another victim when a 36-year-old woman riding a bicycle collided with an MTA Bus in the vicinity of PCH and Puerco Canyon. Surveillance photos from the bus appeared to indicate that the bike rider got a tire caught in a crack in the road, around which there was construction, causing the bike to veer in front of the bus. So far in 2012 as of mid-October, The Malibu Times has reported several deaths and numerous accidents on PCH. 
November
  • In yet another fatality on PCH, a 15-year-old boy sitting in the passenger seat of an eastbound car that suddenly crossed the centerline and over into the oncoming lane was killed and several others injured. The highway was closed down for eight hours, awaiting the coroner and completing the investigation. It’s not yet clear how or why the driver lost control of the eastbound car. 
  • The issue of preserving local business is back before the council in what the city staff report called the business diversification/formula retail ordinance and what others are calling the “preserving the mom and pop” ordinance. Those who are pushing for an ordinance feel it will stop the erosion of small local businesses, while some of the center owners feel it would have exactly the opposite effect and actually push out locals, some of which they’re already leasing to at reduced rentals. Both groups seem to have their own set of facts and there are dire predictions and talk of all types of legal actions. The council called for a public workshop to try and narrow the issues. 
  • Savory Restaurant in the Point Dume Center suddenly and unexpectedly closed its doors in what looked like a battle between two owners, one the chef who owned and operated the restaurant and the other the center owner who was a partner or investor in the restaurant. 
  • The 2012 election was finally over and the predictably blue state maintained its typically blue office holders, although Congressman Henry Waxman had a bit of a scare before offing his competition from an independent. State Senator Fran Pavley retained her seat even in the district with newly drawn district lines, and in a close race Richard Bloom, mayor of Santa Monica and former Coastal Commissioner barely edged out a serving incumbent. Governor Brown’s Proposition 30 passed and the local schools barely avoided potentially disastrous cuts. 
  • Finally after several years of bad to disastrous real estate news, the Malibu real estate market is showing strong signs of life, with home sales increasing in all price ranges. 
December
  • The rescue of Broad Beach has suddenly become a national media issue. The irresistible combination of celebrity homeowners, environmentalists, global warming and a $20 million price tag has caught the public’s attention. For many who might have thought that global climate change was a myth, Hurricane Sandy may have changed their minds about the prospect of their own coastline sailing out to sea. 
  • Malibu, which already has some of the most expensive water in the county is going to see its water rates go up more than 25 percent over the next five years, and annual rate increase of over 5 percent, said Water Works 29, the county water district that runs Malibu water. Part of that cost increase is the ever-increasing water rates for the northern California water, part is the long distance water travels in Malibu and the spread out nature of our town, and part is that ours is an old water system, patched together over the years and rapidly reaching the end of its life. 
  • Pepperdine University made it over another hurdle before the California Coastal Commission, which approved some amendments to the plan that will expand the campus housing, build a new athletic center, add some parking and some field lights, although it all will come back to Coastal again, probably several times, before getting the final OK. The City of Malibu was not happy because they wanted Pepperdine to kick in some money to cover some additional Sheriff’s costs that the city feels will result from the events contemplated. Coastal, as usual, was not impressed by the city’s request and ignored it. 
  • Councilmember John Sibert was briefly a candidate for an open seat on the Coastal Commission, a vacancy created when former Santa Monica Mayor and Coastal Commission member Richard Bloom was elected to the state assembly. Sibert, who might have made it, decided there just weren’t enough hours in the day to do it all, and decided to withdraw. 

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

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