From the Publisher: Politics, National and Local

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Arnold G. York

Chances are, this week, that the nation’s eyes are going to be glued to TV screens, watching the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the confirmation, or not, of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. We’re also all wondering if another shoe is going to drop as some, like attorney Michael Avenatti, have intimated. It all seemed so Washingtonian, except a Malibu connection just popped out in the last few days. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford received a master’s degree from Pepperdine University in 1991 in clinical psychology, and came back to be a visiting professor from 1995 to 1998. She also, according to a Wall Street Journal article, became an avid surfer and began an eight-year relationship with Malibu Realtor Brian Merrick, also an avid surfer. See this week’s front page for more details.

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National politics has all but blotted out the many local issues that are going to be part of the battle for the two open seats on the Malibu City Council. To bring you all up to date, these are the issues that I see are going to be important to our city in the near future:

1. The Bluffs Park/Charmlee Wilderness Park land swap 

The previous council worked out a deal with Joe Edmiston of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to sell Charmlee Wilderness Park in western Malibu to the conservancy and in exchange, buy all of Bluffs Park from the conservancy. Initially, it looked like a win-win with the conservancy using the land as open space and Malibu getting Bluffs Park for badly needed additional ball fields. To be cautious, mutual five-year leases were signed and at the end of the period, the deal would be completed and we would buy each other’s land. Some on the recent council balked at the idea of the swap becoming permanent and the conservancy threatened to kill the deal if we balked at a visitor serving facility like a sports/recreation complex. The deal is currently up in the air and voters should ask all the candidates where they stand on the swap. 

2. The sheriff’s department

The City of Malibu currently pays a very substantial portion of its annual budget to police the community. We pay that to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department on a contract as opposed to having our own police department. 

Lately, I’ve become aware of multitudinous complaints about Pacific Coast Highway and problems related to it, like speeders, parking problems, accidents, traffic signal problems and slow police response. Some of this has been told to me personally, some in emails and others in comments on the platform Nextdoor. The highway is owned by the state, but is policed by us. The question has come up as to whether we are getting our money’s worth. We appear to be paying more than the cities around us, and the question is why and is that reasonable?

3. School separation

We are involved in a multiyear process of trying to divorce ourselves from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and have our own Malibu Unified School District. There is a school bond coming up on the ballot this November called Measure M that is a must pass if we want to become our own school district. Ask the candidates where they stand on the school district separation, the school bond and their willingness to support the new district (and that means dollars) if we do separate. 

4. Recently purchased land

The City of Malibu just spent millions of dollars to buy some undeveloped land from the Malibu Bay Company in the civic center and some at Point Dume, at the site of the old Christmas Tree lot along PCH. There is also another recently purchased parcel at Trancas. The city is going to hold meetings to ask you what you want to do with that land, but the decision is ultimately up to the council. There are some who would do absolutely nothing, keeping it all unused. Some candidates have other ideas. Let’s ask and find out who has vision and who doesn’t. Typically in Malibu, when we elect council members, they’re around for eight years. What are their visions for the future?

5. The homeless

Every community is struggling with the question about what to do with the homeless as well as what to do with people living in their cars, their campers or their RVs. The standard response in most communities is to try and move them to someone else’s community. The sheriff’s deputies formerly used to just wake them up but I’ve heard they don’t do this anymore. These are not easy questions. Should we create a place where they can shower and clean up? Will that encourage more homeless to come here? If we don’t act, are we creating a fire hazard? Should we post “no parking” signs prohibiting parking between 2 to 6 a.m.? (This means you can’t sleep in a vehicle on our streets.) 

As I said, these are tough questions without any easy answers. Where do these candidates stand?