Expert gets low grade

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How good is RBF consulting, the consultant hired by the city of Malibu to design Trancas Park? Should they have known that massive grading would matter to the citizens of Malibu? Should they have asked the questions in order to be sure that they understood what would matter to the citizens of Malibu?

In December 2007, the consultant explained to the public at the City Council meeting that the “naturally occurring flat pads” were “where we’re going to have the opportunities to add those amenities and those program elements that we talked about.” That was the last communication to the public prior to the revelation, several months later, of the 126,000 cubic yards of grading, buried in the EIR report.

When my neighbors were pleading before the City Council in February 2009 that the city look into “Alternative 3,” the consultant responded to this saying “when you start working with those other alternatives, you may end up doing more grading and more retaining walls.” However, the entire definition of Alternative 3 was to reduce the size of the amenities in order to “reduce project grading and allow more of the site to remain in or closer to its existing topography!”

When councilwoman Sharon Barovsky says to a gasping audience, that “once it [the ridge] is graded, behind it, you’ll probably have a more spectacular view,” and asks the consultant whether it’s true there is some even more beautiful ridge behind the ridge, he makes no effort to clarify the fact that the only thing more in view from the canyon after the ridge would be cut down, would be a water tower and telephone poles and the graded Trancas Road. It makes a person wonder whether the consultant was given an incentive to be so unclear, or whether it is actually possible for a professional consultant to find such a point too minor to clear up. Either way, the City Council members rely on “experts” who testify to them. With experts like these, who needs enemies?

Stephen Bellieu