Storm damage to cost city of Malibu $1.8 million

Most of the costs will be reimbursed by FEMA. In other news, a new film festival may come to town.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

Administrative Services Director Reva Feldman told the City Council at its quarterly meeting on April 27 that the damage caused by this year’s storms is expected to cost about $1.8 million. That money will have to come out of the city’s budget until federal and state agencies compensate the city for some of the cost. Although Feldman said it is not known when the money will come, it is expected the Federal Emergency Management Authority will pay $1.35 million and the California Office of Emergency Services will give Malibu $337,000. The city will have to use $112,500 from its general fund, which will not be compensated.

Feldman said the city has received mixed messages from FEMA as to when it will be receiving the money. But she said the federal agency has been responsive in getting out to see the various storm recovery projects to determine the amount of money needed to compensate Malibu.

The meeting got heated when Planning Commissioner Regan Schaar, speaking under public comment, requested that a city task force be formed to address the issue of cleaning the Malibu watershed. She said the council members are not focusing enough on this because they have so many other issues to consider.

Following Schaar’s statements, Councilmember Sharon Barovsky said, “You’re such a great example of people who don’t know what we’re doing here in the city.”

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In response, Schaar said, “I don’t appreciate being told I don’t understand what’s going on. I’ve spent a lot of time on [this issue].” She accused Barovsky of shaking her head during Schaar’s speech. The Malibu Times did not attend the meeting, and Barovsky was not visible on the videotape while Schaar spoke.

Several council members then spoke about the various regional committees that deal with wastewater issues, and pointed to the fact that they are on many of these communities. When Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who is not on any of these committees, said she did not know what the committees were doing, several other council members suggested that better communication was needed. But they said forming a task force would use city staff time that could be better spent on the wastewater issues that are already being addressed.

The council members continued to discuss how better communication would make the community more aware of how the city is working on wastewater issues. They also suggested Schaar join some of the many regional organizations or create a private group to focus on wastewater. Schaar then said, “It doesn’t seem like you guys want to communicate with the people.” She then left the council chambers.

In an interview this week, Schaar said she still believes a city task force would be a good idea. She, Conley Ulich and another interested party, who Schaar did not want to identify, plan to meet with City Manager Katie Lichtig to discuss the issue further.

New film festival

A presentation was made by Malibu residents Bob Klein and Dolores Walsh and former New Malibu Theater manager David Lyons on bringing a new film festival to Malibu. Their festival, called Malibu Celebration of Film, would take place in October beginning in 2006. The festival would include movies that had won awards at other film festivals throughout the world during the year.

Walsh said the festival has already received backing from filmmaker Robert Altman, actor Ed Harris, Malibu philanthropist Lilly Lawrence and several other prominent people in the community. Lawrence has also agreed to host a dinner for a film festival honoree. Altman will be the honoree for the first festival. Klein said it is expected that the festival would make a small profit in its first year, and profits would increase in later years. He said that money would be donated to the city.

The Malibu Film Festival, which began in 2000, was previously a fall event. This year it was moved to April and took place in Santa Monica. Its founder, David Katz, has said he expects the festival will return to Malibu next year.

Panel choices questioned

During a presentation by Malibu Coastal Vision, the city-funded nonprofit group that is working to create a long-range vision plan for the city through community meetings and research, several council members criticized its choices for its series of panel discussions. Coastal Vision is hosting a discussion this month on emergency preparedness, but did not invite Malibu’s emergency preparedness director, Brad Davis. In March, a discussion on Pacific Coast Highway traffic issues included Calabasas Mayor Barry Groveman, a candidate for the 2006 race for Fran Pavley’s state Assembly seat. Several Malibu leaders were angered about a non-Malibu resident with a political agenda being given a platform on Malibu issues on which he was not necessarily knowledgeable.

“People still think of you [Coastal Vision] as part of the city,” Mayor Andy Stern said at the quarterly meeting. “It is troubling when they say things that are not true, misleading or come from a lack of knowledge.”

Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich said Coastal Vision should speak with City Manager Lichtig to get advice on whom to choose for future panel discussions. Lichtig said that was not necessarily a good idea because Coastal Vision is supposed to be absent from city control.

Danielle Killian, the Coastal Vision staff consultant, said she welcomed the city’s advice on selections for future panel discussions. Rich Davis, head of the Coastal Vision team, said in an interview this week that the city’s emergency preparedness coordinator has since been named to this month’s panel. Davis said the reason Brad Davis had not been initially invited was because the discussion was supposed to be about what creates emergencies rather than how the city should react to them.

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

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