With liberty and justice for all


    To anyone who attended the Feb. 10 Code Enforcement Meeting and listened to the horror stories of code enforcement that have occurred under the leadership of the present City Council it was obvious something is terribly wrong in the city of Malibu. While a few people may wish to bury their head in the sand and deny that the stories are true and that nothing is wrong with the way the present city counsel is overseeing zoning and code enforcement, the hard fact is that too many people have either been victimized by abusive code enforcement themselves or know someone who has.

    The problem is too large to cover up with a committee that will study and talk about the problem until after the City Council elections and then forget about it so things can continue as usual.

    The basic problem I think was graphically illustrated by comments of one gentleman I talked to after the meeting. I asked him candidly what he thought of the meeting and his reply was, “Well I’ve got a guest house on my property which is OK, but I don’t think it’s a good idea for my neighbor to have one on theirs.” It seems that code and zoning enforcement on the other guy’s property is a great idea but not on his property. While this is an understandable sentiment I think its becoming clear to everyone that it’s self-defeating.

    When I moved to Malibu in 1965 I wanted the American Dream, my own home. I believed that citizens had the right to own property and build their dream house and be protected from the threat of seizure and confiscation by the government as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights in our American Constitution. Under the present City Council that American Dream has turned into the Malibu Nightmare. What the gentleman that I talked to didn’t realize is that while he may consider his guesthouse proper and legal, the city prosecutor may not.

    If some neighbor of his thinks otherwise and complains that he has a guesthouse then it is up to him to prove to the satisfaction of the city prosecutor that his guesthouse is legal. Given the incomplete records of the county and the city this can be a difficult if not impossible task. If he is forced to legalize the guesthouse by bringing it up to present codes and zoning this can be a very expensive and time-consuming task. If he doesn’t bring it up to present codes he faces $1,000 a day fines or expensive lawyer’s fees defending himself from excessive fines. Either way a lot of Malibu homeowners today live in the fear of losing their homes because some complaining neighbor doesn’t like either them or their house.

    Certainly we need reasonable building and safety codes to protect our homes from those few people who use their property in a reckless and careless manner that endangers not only them but also their neighbors. Public health and safety is a rightful duty and responsibility of the City Council and the bureaucracy they oversee to effect that responsibility. But that’s obviously not what we have in Malibu today. The problem is we have a majority on the City Council that believe they should be our big brother and protect us from ourselves. The excessive fines and fees that are being forced on homeowners are being justified on the grounds that they are doing it for our own good. In reality they are trying to protect us out of everything we own.

    We need a new majority on the City Council that will have more faith in people being able to manage their own homes and property without undo interference from Big Brother. Most people do not need the type of code enforcement, for their own protection, that the present City Council feels is necessary.

    Clearly Malibu has changed from a community where homeowners had the freedom to use and develop their property limited only by the rights of their neighbors not to have the use and enjoyment of their property jeopardized. I hope this election the citizens of Malibu will examine the voting record and actions, not the campaign promises, of the present council members and vote to move Malibu from its present police state mentality back to a community of self-determination and freedom with respect for each others rights. Then we will once again have the right to enjoy our homes and property according to our wishes without undue interference from those who would set themselves up as the master controllers and planners of Malibu.

    David Hansen, president,

    Concern Citizens for Property Rights