New City Policy Avoids Pesticides

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The old adage “slow and steady wins the race” appears to be ringing true for Malibu’s green initiatives.

City council elected during its Monday, June 24, meeting to hold off on a project to move City Hall into the 21st century with the installation of solar panels. Money that would have been allocated to the project—$800,000—was moved to ease the burden on burned-out homeowners looking to rebuild. 

The final budget, passed Monday, waives rebuild permit fees for residents seeking a like-for-like (or like-for-like plus 10 percent) rebuild on burned properties, saving fire survivors potentially tens of thousands of dollars. The fee waiver only applies for residents using the rebuilt burned properties as their primary residences. 

The City Hall solar panel project is to appear in the 2020-21 city budget.

The balanced budget passed in a unanimous, 5-0, vote.

City pledges to go pesticide-free

Council on Monday also finally approved an update to the city’s Earth Friendly Management Policy (EFMP) that replaces a previous Integrated Pest Management policy.

More than three years in the making, the EFMP directs the city to “focus on long-term prevention or ongoing suppression of pest problems, including consideration of a ‘no action’ approach to preclude the need to use chemical pest control methods,” according to the policy’s language. “The city recognizes that pesticides are potentially hazardous to human health, wildlife and the environment and is committed to utilizing available, safe, and effective nonpesticide alternatives when considering options for pest management.”

The policy governs pest management on city owned, managed or leased property, such as Legacy Park, City Hall and the Malibu Lumber Yard shopping center. Many notable properties were not on the list, because they had been acquired after the policy study had been undertaken. Those include the lots at Trancas Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway, the Christmas Tree Lot, Charmlee Wilderness Park, the Ioki Parcel, and others.

The removal of poison bait boxes and replacement with more earth-friendly management is an attempt to break the “chain of death” that sends poison up the food chain, from rats to larger mammals, birds of prey and apex predators.

Staff acknowledged more city properties would be added to the policy, but audience in attendance (when the item was heard at 10 p.m. Monday) were in agreement it was a good start—unsurprising since the policy was penned by the local influential environmental group Poison Free Malibu. The policy first came before council in October before being sent to the Malibu Environmental Sustainability Subcommittee for review in May. 

“The proposed policy that is before you this evening is the original policy submitted by Poison Free Malibu with minor grammatical changes, and also includes language that states the Parks and Recreation Commission would oversee the policy, which was something that was brought up at the environmental subcommittee meeting back in May,” Community Services Director Jesse Bobbett described.

“We already don’t use poisons, we already don’t use pesticides, we already trap,” Bobbett later added.

With council’s unanimous, 5-0, approval vote, the policy comes into effect July 1.

The final word from the public on the new EFMP came from longtime local Sherman Baylin, who declared “Rats rule!”—an ironic transition into the final item on the agenda for the evening: a new policy aimed at keeping rats and other rodents out of Malibu dumpsters. 

Lid-lock debate

“Slow and steady” was again the motto for council as it opted for a gradual approach toward a stated goal of having every dumpster in Malibu locked 24 hours a day with a tight-fitting lid.

In another unanimous vote, council opted to begin enforcing new, less strict dumpster lid rules for food service businesses in the immediate future—but Council Member Skylar Peak pushed to tighten rules to have all dumpsters citywide be locked by June 1, 2020.

For now, the new policy will “require solid waste and recycling containers lids to be locked outside business hours for food service establishments,” according to information from city staff.

Businessowners will have one year to prepare for a stricter policy, which could include such mandates as “24/7 lid locking with a tight, closable lid with simple combination locks,” suggested by Poison Free Malibu founder Kian Schulman.

“Doesn’t matter if it’s at a house or it’s at a business: if you have a dumpster, it’s locked,” Peak suggested.

Then, one year later—after Peak and current Mayor Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner have been termed out of office—council requested they review the policy, with an option of increasing fines for businesses that fail to comply with the new policy.