Odds and ends around town – The May Revise

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    From the Publisher/Arnold G. York

    To many, the phrase “The May Revise” won’t mean much, but to anyone who is dependent on manna from our government in Sacramento, like our city or our school district, it can mean the difference between the life and death of some programs.

    We’ve all been talking about the budget deficit, but up to now, it’s been based on estimates. In the May Revise, they’ve actually counted the real tax money – or at least have a pretty good idea of what it’s going to be – and for the first time they have some harder numbers. It’s possible the budget deficit may jump or shrink, but, either way, many of the cuts will soon be a reality.

    Now is when the hard negotiating really escalates in Sacramento, and in a year as lean as this one, it’s going to be bloody. The legislators or groups with the most clout are going to be able to save their pet programs but it’s a zero sum game, which means for everything that doesn’t get cut, something else is going to have to be doubly cut to make up for the shortfall. It’s not going to be pretty. Estimates are the district is going to take $13.5 million in cuts. We’ll lay out the details of what that means next week.

    We also just received our voters information booklet, with arguments for and against Measure S, the parcel tax proposal, signed by some people we never heard of from organizations we never heard of. Like many of you, I often wondered how a group or individual gets onto a ballot, so we sent Edie Riggins, one of our new reporters, to dig into it. That story is in this week’s newspaper.

    The Malibu Bay Company Development Deal

    The Planning Commission unanimously decided it didn’t like the proposed MBC development deal although, interestingly enough, many commissioners had very different reasons why they rejected it. Everyone didn’t like a piece of it, so, in total, they didn’t like any of it. It really didn’t surprise me.

    After 15 years of watching this game-the battle over the General Plan, the Civic Center specific plan, the guidelines and then two-plus years negotiating this proposed development agreement, with all the give and take involved in that process-I truly don’t believe our elected or appointed politicians are capable of making a decision. It’s not that they lack the intellect, it’s that they lack the courage. There is no answer that can please everyone; in fact, there is probably no answer that can even please the majority of anyone. Politicians hate to make decisions where voters are going to hate them. Our council and Planning Commission are not unique. The state Legislature is every bit as bad. It’s just the others are closer to home, and we get to see it up close and personal. They would save themselves a lot of aggravation if they just skipped all the posturing that’s going to happen at the council meeting – the parade of the usual suspects, both prop and con – and just put it on the ballot and let us vote on it. Instead, they’re going to explain why they’re for and against parts of it, and it’s all going to amount to background noise. We’re beating this thing to death. Let’s just put it on the ballot and decide. It’s like all political decisions. It’s got some good stuff and it’s got some not so good stuff. Ultimately, it’s up to the voters to decide which side is more worthwhile. We can make a clearer decision because we don’t have to worry about being voted out of office. If we make a mistake, all we have to do is accept the fact that we’re going to have to live with it.

    Septic skeptics

    We had the executive director of the Southern California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) come talk to the Malibu Business Roundtable recently, and the message was the standards for septic systems are getting stricter. This is not just a local issue because Malibu Creek and lagoon are polluted. It’s part of a larger statewide and nationwide drive for cleaner water. What was clear is the RWQCB does not particularly like septic systems, and it’s going to progressively get more and more expensive to build, maintain and monitor them. For now, the board is just looking hard at septics in commercial and multiple residential projects, but there is no question that in time it’s going after single-family residences. We’re going to have to start thinking about things like small package plants or be prepared to spend a fortune to keep our individual septic systems. More of that in the future.