A sensing consensus

Like citizens who live in small towns everywhere, we tend to agree on most of the really important issues such as growth and the environment. We tend to disagree, however, where our personal livelihoods or perceived way of life is affected by community decisions in these areas as expressed by our representatives in local government.

For example: Land developers, planners, architects, contractors, trades people, real estate people, yes, even newspaper publishers who court additional ad revenues, all those who benefit from building activities (growth), really do want to keep Malibu relatively small and rural, but not to the extent that their personal financial well-being is negatively impacted. They have a legitimate financial stake in community “growth”, after all, that is how they make their living, pay their bills, support the local business community, participate in the schools, pay their taxes, protect the environment … yes, protect the environment. Have you ever met a single person who lives in Malibu who did not favor protecting the environment?

However, those citizens not involved with “growth” businesses have a legitimate stake in the future direction of the community, as well. They moved here because they sought semi-rural living in a non-urban environment away from the peripatetic hustle and bustle of the city, to enjoy the peaceful serenity and safety of ocean/canyon living. Can you really blame them for wanting to keep the status quo that drew them here in the first place? They anxiously view each additional development as a permanent encroachment upon their idyllic existence, adding to the growing traffic congestion on PCH, and as an attack upon diminishing open spaces and the environment.

Not unexpectedly, both groups have polarized positions which tend to allow intelligent, reasonable people to unfairly brand the other group as “more concerned with tree frogs than people!” or, “trying to make Malibu into another Laguna Beach!”

Contentiousness is not the answer — careful, sober, hard-fought compromise is. There is a middle ground here where the legitimate concerns of all our citizens must be addressed and protected. That is the very difficult responsibility of our City Council and the commissions that report to them.

It is time to begin constructive consensus building so that we can become part of the solution for a new millennium.


Ray Singer

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

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