Drawing a clearer picture

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    The big issues related to the Malibu Local Coastal Program that determine our community’s future are not hidden in a small fundraiser being organized by Ozzie Silna and Sara Wan. Fundraisers for elected officials are not new, and while maybe you (Mr. York) and I can’t afford $1,000 to have dinner with Sara, Ozzie and Senator John Burton, I think you seriously underestimate the bank accounts of numerous Malibu residents. Hopefully, many who care about Malibu’s precious natural resources will attend and make their voices heard to Mr. Burton and Ms. Wan, Chair of the Coastal Commission.

    Mr. York, while you have been busy working your Malibu crossword puzzle, listening to (and believing!) rumors, deducing, and hunching, you’ve entirely missed the picture here. Had you not been so hard at work in the rumor mill, you could have noticed articles in the Los Angeles Times, attended and watched a few Coastal Commission hearings that are not about Malibu’s LCP, and studied the campaign contributions for the Governor’s 2002 election.

    You would have discovered through this investigation that Jerry Perenchio, chief of Malibu’s largest developer, Malibu Bay Company, has given $100,000 to Gray Davis in his re-election bid. You also would have noted that Perenchio, whose private golf course contributes to the fouling of Malibu Lagoon waters where surfers and swimmers are warned not to enter the ocean, also recently contributed $100,000 to Davis’ main competitor in the race, Richard Riordan. Riordan has played golf on that course, the one on PCH, just west of Cross Creek, encircled with a 10-foot wall behind a chain link fence so the public cannot see the outrage of this private excess polluting the public trust. You also would have deduced correctly that Mr. Perenchio has covered his bases quite nicely. You would know that the Governor has a lot to say about what happens at the Coastal Commission, even though the original intention of the legislature and the voters was that such a Commission would be independent and would simply uphold the law while being entrusted with protecting the California coast.

    Unfortunately, while there are two other appointing authorities, the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and the Assembly Speaker, the Governor’s four appointees are quite adept at manipulating the process for political cronies or special contributors, especially since the Governor not only has four voting members on the Commission, but also three non-voting members, who regularly remind the others of how much the Assembly and Senate leaders need the Governor for various legislative agendas. Sierra Club and Wetlands Action Network have had to sue the Commission on more than one occasion for politics interfering with the law. Perhaps a check of Senator Burton’s and Assembly member Wesson’s campaign coffers might also be in order to see if Perenchio has the entire deal sewn up.

    What deal? A simple survey of land-use issues in Malibu shows that the Malibu Bay Company owns the most undeveloped land in the Civic Center area, Trancas and Pt. Dume. Whether Perenchio is able to pave over this last piece of our coastal paradise, or at least get top dollar from the state by obtaining the most in permit entitlements from the Coastal Commission as other developers have done for coveted land in sensitive places, depends almost entirely on the influence of these three men: the Governor, the Assembly Speaker and the Senate President Pro Tem. The only other thing that can change this outcome is an informed citizenry holding these elected officials and their appointees accountable. The Malibu Times’ job is to help inform the citizens, not engage in the politics of rumor and innuendo.

    Marcia Hanscom

    Executive Director

    Wetlands Action Network

    Co-Chair, California Coast and Ocean Committee,

    Sierra Club