City officials dismayed by Planning Commission’s action

Left to right: Malibu City Council members John Sibert, Jefferson Wagner, Santa Monica College trustee Margaret Quinones-Perez, Mayor Pro Tem Andy Stern and Councilmember Sharon Barovsky pose with a $2.5 million check presented to the City of Malibu by SMC to help defray the cost of constructing a wastewater treatment plant and its connection to Legacy Park during Monday's city council meeting. The funds are from Measure S, a college bond measure approved by voters in 2004.

Officials were bothered by the last-minute change to the commission’s agenda to hear the La Paz project, and by personal attacks by commissioners on council members.

By Nora Fleming / Special to The Malibu Times

City officials expressed their shock and dismay at Monday night’s council meeting over the Planning Commission’s refusal to re-evaluate the La Paz project through a public hearing at its meeting last week.

The commission had approved the smaller of two proposed projects at a hearing in January. The developer submitted a revised plan with a new wastewater disposal system, however, the commission refused to hear it at last Tuesday’s meeting, taking it off the agenda at the last minute (see Planning Commission story this page).

Paul Grisanti, recently appointed Public Works commissioner, spoke in the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting.

“I had the misfortune of attending the Planning Commission meeting and the only words I have are ‘flabbergasted’,” Grisanti said, citing his amazement that the item was taken off the agenda, with a 3-2 majority vote, even though a number of residents had shown up and both sides were present.

Councilmember John Sibert said he was bothered more by the personal attacks made at the meeting by commissioners against city staff members about putting the item on the agenda in the first place.

“Commissioners dressing down individual staff members in public session is wrong, it’s always wrong. The city operates like a corporation. We have a management structure. Issues with individual staff members should never be addressed in a public meeting,” Sibert said.

Councilmember Barovsky expressed her disdain at the way the meeting was handled and at the refusal to hear information she said a majority of the commissioners had never heard before because they were not on the commission at the hearing in January.

Councilmember Stern said it was one of the only times he remembered the commission completely disregarding the advice the city attorney strongly recommended, due to potential liability the city could face without a hearing.

Stern also addressed what he felt were personal attacks made by Planning Commissioner John Mazza against him and Barovsky over comments in a previous meeting.

“The bottom line is quit whining, grow up and deal with it. Stop being so sensitive,” Stern said

Hearing outcome on Rambla Pacifico emergency road unknown

The Malibu City Council on Monday approved a contracting services agreement with Rincon Consulting, Inc. to develop a Focused Environmental Impact Report, a step in obtaining a standard Coastal Development Permit, to build an emergency access road at Rambla Pacifico Road. Additionally the council passed a motion to remove an item from the agenda that discussed a reimbursement agreement for Rambla Pacifico residents who are paying for the road.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge heard a case earlier in the day regarding the road, made by a group of area neighbors who sued the city over the issuance of an emergency coastal development permit on July 14 to allow the building of the road. The residents said there was not an emergency when the permit was issued, therefore, it was invalid. The city issued the permit because emergency personnel would be unable to access the area during the upcoming fire season.

The city council did not address the court hearing at the meeting. The city attorney did not return phone calls regarding the hearing.

Paparazzi issue making city look bad

Grisanti Monday night brought up the city’s role in the paparazzi situation and the recent meeting of a task force meeting on the issue, generated by Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich. The meeting and the ideas proposed were given notice in local and national press and have generated comment within the community, which Grisanti implied is making the city look bad. “I want to make it clear that we did not set this group up and the group does not reflect what the council thinks,” Barovksy said, in response. “To solve a problem, a lot of suggestions are thrown out, some good, some bad.”

Legacy Park on its way

Santa Monica College presented a $2.5 million check to the city for the Legacy Park Project.

This exceeds the Annenberg Foundation/Legacy Park challenge, which matches park donations up to $2 million. The SMC donation and Annenberg match, combined with more than $600,000 donated by residents, puts the city in the next phase of development on the park, said Susan Shaw Noble, city capital campaign coordinator.

Councilmember Barovsky expressed her hope to continue a relationship between Malibu and Santa Monica to facilitate development of a SMC satellite campus in Malibu, approved by voters on a bond measure in 2004.

“Hopefully it will make classes available to people like me who want to speak better Spanish than ‘caliente’ up the coffee,” Barovsky said.

Also at the meeting, Malibu resident Norm Haney readdressed a topic he spoke on at the joint Public Safety and Public Works commissions meeting two weeks ago about a water main at Las Tunas Beach that he believes is at risk for failure, but, due to logistical impasses with California Department of Transportation, is not being addressed.

City Councilmember Andy Stern directed City Manager Jim Thorsen to write a letter to Caltrans expressing the city’s desire for the problem to be examined.