John Sibert appointed mayor of Malibu

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John Sibert was sworn in as mayor and Laura Rosenthal as mayor pro tem at Monday’s council meeting. Knowles Adkisson / TMT

The new mayor stresses importance of fiscal responsibility moving forward. Council also discusses purchase of lots for parks.

By Knowles Adkisson / The Malibu Times

Malibu Mayor Pro Tem John Sibert was voted as the city’s new mayor before a packed house Monday night at City Hall. Sibert succeeds fellow Councilmember Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner in the post, with Councilmember Laura Rosenthal elevated to the mayor pro tem position.

After being sworn in by his daughter, with his wife and son-in-law looking on, Sibert addressed the city for the first time as mayor. He touched on the many goals the city has realized in recent years. Those included the openings of Trancas Park, Legacy Park, Las Flores Park and Malibu Bluffs Park, as well as a new city hall, which is slated to be finished in March. Sibert noted that the city had achieved those goals while keeping a balanced budget, retaining the City’s AA+ bond rating and maintaining the city’s reserves.

But Sibert warned that the city needed to remain conscious of the budget crisis in the state.

“Let’s face it, the state’s got a lot of red ink, and they’re going to share that red ink with the county, and you can bet on it that the county will share that red ink with us,” he said. “Whether it’s fire or libraries or whatever it is, we’re going to have to find ways to pay for that, as Supervisor [Zev] Yaroslavsky said, that’s one disaster away from bankruptcy. So we need to be aware that we have a fiduciary responsibility.”

Outgoing Mayor Wagner received commendations from representatives of Los Angeles County Supervisor Yaroslavsky, state Assemblymember Julia Brownley and state Sen. Fran Pavley in honor of his achievements as mayor. Congressman Henry Waxman also sent a letter of commendation, which was read by Sibert.

After receiving a plaque from his fellow council members, Wagner took time to thank his colleagues and members of the city staff who had helped him during his tenure, and spoke about the achievements of the council. He mentioned the enhanced dialogue between the council and members of the Regional Water Quality Control Board, plans for a working trails map and productive discussions about the continuing debate over development versus no development in Malibu.

Wagner said that one of his goals moving forward is the continuing progress of the view shed ordinance. The ordinance stems from a vote in the spring of 2008, in which voters directed the city to create an ordinance to protect views, as vegetative growth and new buildings were becoming a source of conflict between neighbors. A citizen task force has been working for the last two years to make recommendations for an ordinance.

“I know with John’s leadership … we can move forward with the things that we have before us,” Wagner said. “Now that we’ve developed this working relationship together I think we can. We do our best, and I want you all to know that we really do our best.”

Council discusses purchasing land for park

Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich spoke in favor of purchasing two adjacent parcels of land on Pacific Coast Highway near Heathercliff Road that could be used for the creation of a new park that would include soccer fields and possibly a skate park. Ulich speculated that the land could be purchased for around $2 million from owner Zan Marquis.

Councilmember Lou La Monte said that while such a purchase would be beneficial, the city’s other obligations should come first.

“All we have to do is build a wastewater treatment facility, which isn’t quite as much fun,” La Monte said.

Mayor Pro Tem Rosenthal expressed concern that developing the land for park use could add another $3 million to the price tag. The council voted to add the item to a future agenda for consideration.

Marquis had filed an application to change zoning of the lot, which is located across from Point Dume Village, which he also owns, from residential to commercial so he could turn it into a parking lot. The lot would alleviate parking at the village.

However, the Zoning Ordinance Revisions and Code Enforcement Subcommittee turned the application down because it did not want to set a precedent of changing zoning law, and also because of safety issues on the highway.

City Council actions

– The AYSO girls U12 and U19 teams were presented certificates for “skill and sportsmanship” by outgoing Mayor Jefferson Wagner for their efforts in reaching the championship in the all-Malibu AYSO area league playoff tournament.

– Keith Hennig, whose firm Arbor Pro USA was retained by the city to create a GPS inventory of trees in Malibu, made a presentation detailing the results of the inventory. Arbor Pro USA took a photo of every single tree in the City of Malibu’s right of way, and also recorded the diameter, height, species, address and property associated with the priority of maintenance and health analysis. The city plans to use the inventory to put together a long-term plan for the city’s tree maintenance program.

The information can be used to determine how frequently certain species need to be pruned, and which trees are the highest priorities for future maintenance.

– Kelly Silverberg Felix and John Mazza were appointed to the Mobilehome Park Rent Stabilization Commission.

– The meeting was adjourned in memory of fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne and former executive vice president of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, Mary Lou Blackwood, who both died recently.