The recent report of the Sierra Club lawsuit against the expansion of Pepperdine University in Malibu is worthy of some comment, clarification and questions. To begin with, Pepperdine is a class act in every respect, although some Malibu folk, especially city officials think it is an eyesore and is not welcome in this city. Well, it ain’t in this city. Pepperdine was successful in being excluded from the city limits upon incorporation. Good move. But a lot of us see Pepperdine as a thing of beauty on the hill, and an institution we can brag about as belonging to us.
So my question is, what is the lawsuit really about? And what triggered it? Did someone at Sierra just happen to drive by and decide that something had to be done? I think not. And I think that if the Pepperdine matter is coupled with another similar matter, one can only assume that Sierra is in the business of litigating local issues, for a price.
The other matter is based on the fact that the board of my homeowners association, acting first through a member,0 asked for contributions to Sierra in order to prevent the area known out here in the boonies as Trancas Fields or something like that from being developed by anyone. Later, we the members were told that we needed to raise $50,000 for which Sierra would file a lawsuit based on some esoteric (my opinion) environmental considerations.
I do not know how much money was raised from members. Homeowner association boards are not known for keeping members informed. However, in actively opposing some new CC&Rs, I learned from association records that our association had given Sierra a total of $20,000 in 1998-1999. This contribution apparently did not require approval of members, and the board did not tell us about it. So much for family laundry.
Malibu has a well earned reputation for questionable ethics as practiced by all segments of the city. But I am deeply concerned that Sierra seems to be willing to rent its name and reputation to anyone who has an imagined cause, and a few bucks to pay the lawyers.
I think that this could be a fertile field for plowing by a top-notch investigative reporter. I will keep my eyes open.