Candidates Spar in First Malibu Council Debate

A bitter war of words erupted at the first of several City Council Candidate Election forums on Saturday, as challengers Andy Lyon and Hamish Patterson put incumbent city councilmembers Lou La Monte and Laura Rosenthal on the defensive over issues of mobile home park safety and rent control, environmental safety at Malibu High and a Civic Center wastewater treatment plant. 

Hosted by the Point Dume Club Mobile Home Park and Paradise Cove Mobile Home residents, the two-hour forum drew about 60 attendees. The fifth candidate, newcomer June Louks, spoke seldom and played catch-up on some issues. 

Paradise Cove safety, rent control concerns 

When the issue of residential and pedestrian safety at Paradise Cove was raised, Patterson and Lyon said the current council was turning a blind eye to major safety dilemmas for mobile home residents who share an access road with Paradise Cove Cafe and Beach, a summertime tourist haven. 

“[The owners] are making all this money, turning this into a Vegas pool party every weekend,” Lyon said. He worried that emergency access on the narrow access road would be difficult during a fire or police response, and added that a string of “No Parking” signs that have recently been placed along Pacific Coast Highway to discourage traffic jams have instead encouraged visitors to park along nearby residential streets like Winding Way. Lyon proposed that the fire access road be widened. 

Rosenthal acknowledged a problem of crowding and safety but said that a few things were in the works to improve safety in the area, including an effort to have a temporary restraining order placed against a nonconforming upper parking lot being used for overflow cars. 


“A Stop Work order was issued [Friday] for … all those trenches that you have at Paradise Cove that there are no permits for,” La Monte added. 

While each candidate vowed to protect rent control in each of Malibu’s mobile home parks, Patterson pointed out that the city’s Mobile Home Park Rent Stabilization Commission has not met since 2008. The commission also has two vacant seats and Patterson believes the city has neglected mobile home residents. 

“These people are directly responsible about your rent… If they don’t meet, how are you going to go to them?” Patterson argued. 

La Monte countered, saying the commission only meets on an as-needed basis when residents bring up specific issues they want discussed. Rosenthal highlighted her work in helping protect mobile home rent control statewide, after state legislators nixed a 2012 bill that would have exempted mobile home parks from rent control. 

Louks had not studied Malibu’s rent control laws within mobile home parks but suggested forming a task force with Caltrans and other local agencies to work on Paradise Cove safety issues. 

Rosenthal questioned over knowledge of Malibu High environmental issues 

After an audience member asked the candidates how they would assure the community stays fully informed on environmental issues that have arisen at Malibu High and Middle schools, Rosenthal was singled out for having known about contaminated soils on the campus as early as 2010 when she served on a site advisory committee with the school district. 

“I was peripherally involved [in 2010] because I was starting my campaign [for city council],” she said. “There was no cover-up.”

When asked to elaborate after the forum concluded, Rosenthal said she remembered receiving a report on the contaminated soil in 2010 but was assured by district officials that all bases would be covered in alerting parents, teachers and students. 

Louks identified with worried parents and called for more transparency from the district, saying that her daughter attended summer school last year when the school district continued digging out possibly contaminated soils at the campus. 

“We were not told about the PCBs, about all the excavation. She was in the room next door and we were never told,” Louks said. 

Could Civic Center treatment plant be stopped? 

Lyon, a vehement opponent of the city’s current plans to build a central wastewater treatment plant in the Civic Center, said the city ought to completely reexamine the issue instead of comply with the state’s orders to build the treatment plant. The state argues that the Civic Center needs a centralized system because wastewater from the area is trickling down and polluting nearby ocean water. 

But the government’s distribution of power is already set out to trump the city’s power, Rosenthal said. 

“We’re going to lose. When you’re a little city, you usually lose,” Rosenthal said. “You always lose against the county and against the state.” 

Another candidate forum took place Monday at the Malibu West Beach Club. Forums by the Malibu Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce/ Board of Realtors are scheduled for March 5 at Pepperdine’s Graziadio conference center and March 20 at HRL Laboratories, respectively. 

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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