Council hears its last quarterly report


Every quarter, the City Council meets with staff to review where they’ve been in the last quarter and where they’re going in the next. With the City Council election looming in early April and three challengers running against three incumbents, the Jan. 26 meeting was probably the last of the current council.

Dominating the meeting were major staff departures. Five of the eight departmental reports included references to staff vacancies. The city will be seeking a new city manager, a new city attorney and a new planning director among others.

City Manager Harry Peacock, who last week announced his retirement effective July 17, reviewed a timetable for the recruitment and selection of his replacement. Peacock has been with the city for three years. Councilman Tom Hasse indicated both he and Councilman Harry Barovsky had tried to dissuade Peacock from retiring, but after 30-plus years in the trenches, Peacock seemed to have made up his mind to retire.

Councilman Walt Keller wanted the panel to consider, in the closed session of Monday’s meeting, appointment of an in-house employee to the position of city manager. The city attorney indicated the panel could not make that kind of decision in closed session although they could review performance of a particular employee in closed session.

Also in Monday’s closed session, the council was to interview city attorney candidates. Los Angeles attorney Richard Terzian has been serving as interim city attorney since Christi Hogin resigned last summer.

Planning Director Craig Ewing, who has been with the city two years, last week submitted his resignation, effective Feb. 11, to accept a position of community development director for the Northern California city of Lafayette. He reviewed his department’s accomplishments. They included:

  • Completion of a draft Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan (now being reviewed by the staff of the California Coastal Commission);
  • Drafting a Hillside Management Plan. The council did not support it but did form a new committee of architects and engineers to review it.
  • Drafting a “how to” planning procedures book for the public. It went to the council in December but the council has not given approval to distribute it.
  • A draft wetlands delineation report, which has been submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers for review.
  • Drafting specific changes to the Interim Zoning Ordinance regarding front setbacks, institutional uses, parking standards and modifications of variances.

Other staff vacancies include:

A Parks and Recreation supervisor to replace Paul Adams, who last week was promoted to Parks and Recreation director. Adams, who has worked for the city a number of years, had been supervisor since December, when veteran director Catherine Walter resigned; and

A deputy city clerk to fill the position recently vacated by Shelly Petrelli. City Clerk Virginia Bloom reported the job description for her deputy does not include the requirement for the two-year certification she has.

Environmental and Building Safety

In response to the last City Council meeting, where a number of people testified about selective code enforcement, Mayor Carolyn Van Horn, Joan House, Hasse and Keller voted to hold an educational workshop on code enforcement Feb. 10. [See sidebar on Code Enforcement for a list of subjects to be discussed and a categorization of open cases.]

Environmental and building safety official Vic Peterson told the quarterly meeting he is considering requesting higher fees for records maintenance, private sewage disposal systems permits, and grading and drainage. He also reported the department had issued a record number of 832 new building permits in 1999.

Public amenities formula

The council also wrestled with calculating the value of public amenities. The city needs to determine the value of public benefits to know what it should expect in return for granting an increase in Floor Area Ratio (FAR) beyond the standard limits contained in the General Plan.

The council unanimously voted to accept the objective value calculation models Peacock suggested: value of the land, avoided cost of development and added economic return. The council will also consider the subjective value of the percentage of added value/benefit the city requires in order to grant the FAR bonus.


The council adopted Administrative Service Director William Thomas’ recommendations to contract with Malibu Yellow Cab at fixed rates for Malibu residents who use the city’s Dial-A-Ride taxi service. Services to be provided will include the city, medical facilities in Santa Monica, West Los Angeles and Woodland Hills. Cost of the contract is expected to be $138,500, $9,000 below last year’s costs and about $13,000 less than the city receives from Proposition A and Proposition C funding programs.

Under the new program, the city is to give riders written rules for use. The city will also continue negotiating with the county for accommodation of noncity residents.


The city is involved in 12 pending court cases.