Taking strong sewage stance

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It’s unfortunate that I got attacked by Les Moss at the Malibu City Council while I was vacationing in the darkness of New York state. Thank goodness the lights are on now so I can respond via the Internet.

As I, and my Surfside Way neighbors, have made it clear for the past six years, we fully support rebuilding the Trancas Water Pollution Control Plant as soon as possible. For the past 10 years, a few anti-environment extremists in Malibu West have been urging the county to build the cheapest plant possible. They actually sent letters to the county demanding that environmental shortcuts be employed to cut costs. Never mind that the new unscreened sewage aeration tanks would be plunked right in the middle of parklands, in plain view from some non-Malibu West living rooms.

These plans were so bad that last year the county had to withdraw them and start over again. Unfortunately, the new plan would still result in several homes being subjected to the introduction of raw sewage aeration into their living room views. Not very neighborly, I would suggest. So, off we went to the Internet. Lo and behold, the California Water Code, the California Administrative Codes Title 14 and the California Environmental Quality Control Act all specifically protect us! And these laws are plain. They do not allow Les Moss or the L.A. County Wastewater Department to plop new, open sewage tanks below someone’s living room. Period.

That’s the law, Les, and your desire for a quick and dirty solution does not change that. Now, we’re still on record as supporting the new, expanded sewage plant if it can be screened from our houses. We propose a tennis court fence and trees. This is hardly environmental extremism, it is a “good neighbor” stance that has even been endorsed now by the Malibu West HOA. Sadly, our efforts to negotiate for this fence have run up against the county’s fast-track deadline to file comments on its 2003 plan. When we filed our objections with the county last month, we made it clear that we would make significant concessions and withdraw our legally protected rights to demand a redesign of the plant if its innards can be fully screened from our homes and decks.

So, at this point, one of two things will happen; either a reasonable fence (and fly control program) can be added to the 2003 county plan, and the new sewage aeration tanks can be added. Or, if the wonderful sewage frothing ponds cannot be completely screened from our homes, we will follow through and protect our legal rights set forth in literally dozens of different sections of environmental laws. This avoidable process will force a complete environmental study and a redesign of the plant, at great cost to Malibu West, and will result in a plant design that will, for the first time, pass all environmental standards.

Mr. Moss accuses me of using a sham argument and extremism. I reject that, and contend that his efforts to get the county to take illegal environmental shortcuts is endangering a simple and cheap compromise that his own HOA has endorsed. His neighbors in Malibu West will have him to thank if they have to bear the assessments for the environmental impact report, redesign and expensive new sewage plant.

But this extremist point we will make clear: We will never, ever accept the intrusion of Malibu West’s raw sewage aeration tanks if they are visible from the living rooms of Malibu Park. Got that, Les?

Hans Laetz