Code Enforcement Battle Reaches the City Council


After Sharon Barovsky raised her right hand Monday night to be sworn in by Judge Lawrence Mira, the Malibu City Council was back to it’s full complement of five members and in quick succession Barovsky announced three of her new appointments. To the City Planning Commission she reappointed Andrew Stern, who previously had been a Walt Keller appointment and served on the commission from June 1998 to May 2000. She also appointed Laureen Sills a co-chair of PARCS and Eric Stauffer to the Telecommunications Commission.

The major item of the evening, a Request for a Limited Moratorium on “Grandfathering” and “Home Office” Code Enforcement cases produced a heated and often forceful debate between councilmembers Jeff Jennings and Ken Kearsley who clashed repeatedly with the soon-to-retire City Manager Harry Peacock who was opposed to the moratorium and wanted to send the matter back to the Code Enforcement Task Force without any council action. The issue of code enforcement, which was a major issue in the last council election, finally broke out into the open at the council over the nature and quality of Malibu’s code and code enforcement policies.

There was a proposal before the council, introduced by Councilmember Ken Kearsley, to declare a temporary moratorium on both the enforcement of rules governing “Home Offices” and another on the larger and much more complicated question of the “Grandfathering” issue to allow what he described as a “time-out” while both the council and the Code Enforcement Task Force grapple with the issues.

The staff, city manager, and city attorney strenuously resisting the idea of any moratorium, met with a wall of opposition from both Jennings and Kearsley who argued for a temporary cooling-off period. After an hour of discussion the council voted 4-1 ( Joan House dissenting) to have the city attorney come back with a legally defensible moratorium on home offices. They also assigned the Grandfathering question to the City Council Land Use and Planning subcommittee, consisting of House and Jennings, with instructions to meet with staff and return quickly with a specifically worded proposal for a grandfathering moratorium for the council to discuss.

Other actions of the council:

  • Approved the budget for the fiscal years 2000-2001 and also 2001-2002. In 2000-20001 the proposed city expenditures will be $17,410,000, of which $12,557,7000 comes from general funds and the remainder ($4,852,370) from Special Revenue Funds. The largest expenditures are $4.3 million for public safety, $3 million for community environment and $3 million for capital projects. The end of the year should show a $400,000 surplus.

In 2001-2002 the expenditures are lower–$15,597,150, and at the end of the year they expect a small surplus.

  • In other matters the council in a 5-0 vote decided they were still opposed to AB 885, the proposed Assembly bill that would create statewide standards for septic systems. Although the bill had been substantially amended, most on the council could see nothing to be gained by endorsing the newly amended bill. Several were fearful that the RWQCB might have enforcement powers and in the past they have been very unsympathetic to septic systems and particularly leach fields, which are in wide usage in Malibu.
  • Approved the letting of a contract for the redesign of heavily congested Cross Creek Road in the vicinity of the shopping centers and environs to make it more pedestrian friendly. The options are open and the council indicated they wanted to see what the designers would come back with.
  • They decided to step out and let the County handle it:
  • The council named their new appointments to the Harry Barovsky Memorial Youth Commission. The one year appointments are Alexis Bolter 12th grade, Jeremy Mathew Johnson 12th, Caytlyn McCloskey 12th, Miles Jennings 12th, Adam Androlia 10th, Chanel Kass 9th, Sky Shachory 9th, Kurtis Major 9th, Melissa Cardidad 8th, Jenny M. Hardy 8th. The two year appointments are Mose Wintner 7th grade, Brighton Aubriegh McCloskey 8th, Zachary A Drapkin 9th, Caitlin Harris 10th and Evan Shoop 11th.
  • In another 5-0 vote the council approved assigning the cities $700,000 in bond funds to the State to help pay for work on the Malibu Pier provided the state set up a maintenance fund for the ongoing maintenance of the Pier so that it will not fall into disrepair again.
  • In a 4-1 vote, with only House feeling that maybe the city ought to take over the licensing, the city decided to wash their hands of the increasingly frustrating problem of the cities minimal involvement in the L.A. County business licenses program where the city was to hold hearings here in Malibu. According to several on the council and staff, whatever was intended has never worked and, in fact, has caught several local business, such as Dukes restaurant and the Oddessy School, in the no-mans land between the city and the county. The licensing statute seemed to make little sense to most on the council because it regulates certain things like bookstores, but not others, such as lap dancing.
  • Awarded a $782,000 contract to an Oxnard contractor to pave the following Malibu Roads in the next year: Busch Drive (north of Merritt), Clover Heights Road, Coast View Drive, Colony View Circle, Deerhead Road, Dume Drive, Guernsey Drive, Harbor Vista Drive, Harvester Road, Heathercliff Road, Malibu Crest Road, Malibu Knolls Road, Merritt Drive, Morning View Drive, Seastar Drive and Surfside Way.