From the Publisher: It’s a Wrap

Arnold G. York

This is the last issue of the year, so as they say in showbiz, “It’s a wrap.” 

Locally, it’s been a bit of a strange year but also a productive year, which is more than you could probably say about this year in Washington, D.C. 

We’ve got a bunch of things on our plate that are very slowly moving toward some resolution in the future. 

Civic Center sewer plans 

The Los Angeles County Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWCQB) has placed a development prohibition on the Malibu Civic Center. Although they can’t technically tell us how to do it, they are virtually mandating a sewer in the Civic Center and surrounding area for commercial property by 2015 and residential property by 2019. Right now though, the city is about nine months behind and probably won’t complete the first phase until 2016. 

The city and the RWQCB are progressing in the engineering of the system and an EIR is on the way. Costs for the project are estimated at $41.7 million but the final cost will probably be higher. The commercial land owners are pretty much on board because they want certainty and they know they’ll have to grit their teeth and pay whatever their share turns out to be. 

The adjoining homeowners are an entirely different case. Some have wealthy incomes, but a number of them own valuable land and have limited income, so they’ll probably have to either borrow (if they can) or sell out and leave. I suspect there will be several years of litigation ahead, but in the interim the real estate in the Civic Center is in suspended animation. If you buy it, you buy “as is” and wait several years for a resolution, if it all. 

Park swap 

The land swap between the City of Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is in the works and the city will look to ultimately trade Charmlee Wilderness Park, located on the far west end of Malibu, for the remaining hunk of Bluffs Park so it can get more sports fields, rec centers and additional parking. The opposition may be able to delay or block it for a while, but ultimately it should go through because I can’t see any court blocking a swap where the city gets playground space and Charmlee ends up being owned by a state agency that holds land for the environment. 

School district separation 

The movement to create a separate school district for Malibu is gaining steam, primarily because Advocates for Malibu Public School (AMPS), the group leading the charge, appears to know what it’s doing. The leaders have a very definite plan and are raising the $2-$3 million or so it will take to get the job done over the next few years. 

Broad Beach sand replenishment 

The group trying to restore Broad Beach may have finally located the right sand to go ahead with the beach restoration project. The cost is gigantic on Broad Beach alone, but it just may be a preview of the coming attractions for major erosion along the entire west coast. It’s going to be incredibly expensive and set up gigantic environmental battles. We are going through climate shifts in terms of temperature, air conditions, ocean changes in tides, water temperature and a variety of other things. Changes in the ocean affect everything—smog, childhood health, temperature, air quality and basin health, agriculture, animal husbandry, shipping, transportation to move shipping, fresh potable water—and there are some very big players impacted by this climate change. 

Rehab crackdown 

People are talking to me about problems related to the alcohol and drug rehab and sober living centers and their impacts on local neighborhoods. They’ve become too popular, whereas before they were more below the radar. Their profile is now rising in enough communities, not just Malibu, that some legislators are beginning to take a second look at the problem. There will probably be some action on that front this coming year. 

Water system overhaul 

The $266 million LA County Topanga/ Malibu water project is headed our way to add reservoirs, increase the size of outdated pipelines that are too narrow to meet current standards, increase the water flow and try and make us reasonably safer in cases of fire. The cost is going to be passed through to us and it’s not going to be cheap. 

We pay for it 

What we’re seeing is lots of costs of public improvements no longer being spread out over the entire county but instead directed at smaller groups like Malibu. The philosophy, or perhaps the economics, have changed and the price of staying small and relatively unpopulated (13,000) is going up. If you can afford it, it’s well worth it. The basic question is what do we do about the people who really can’t afford it and are being squeezed out? It’s not an easy answer. 

P.S. Take a look at our upcoming Jan. 2, 2014 issue, which is 2013 in review. 

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.