Locals Pressure City to Go Pesticide-Free

City of Malibu

The Malibu Parks and Recreation Commission voted 3-0 to make weed-killers such as Round-Up a last option in their recommendation to the City Council for a citywide pest management policy. The council will consider the plan in November.

A group of residents pushed the Parks and Rec Department to completely phase out herbicides due to their toxic nature.

“Go all the way, all the way—a poison-free Malibu,” said Kian Schulman, secretary of the Malibu Agricultural Society.

Schulman was one of three locals invited to the meeting by Parks and Rec Director Bob Stallings, who wanted their input on the city’s drafted Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy. Schulman’s group recently led a successful campaign in getting the City Council to pass an ordinance opposing the use of rodenticides, or rat poison, in the City of Malibu. A number of local stores have taken rodenticides off their shelves as well.

Stallings and parks supervisor Andrew Belter said they had not considered a complete phasing-out of potentially toxic garden chemicals such as Roundup, and that more research is needed. They would not want to present such a plan to the City Council before knowing whether it’s feasible—and whether the city can afford it.

As an example, sending two workers to weed an area once a day for 26 weeks could cost the city up to $8,320, according to staff calculations.

But having a crew apply an herbicide two times could be just $1,080—saving the city more than $7,000.

Still, Stallings was hopeful of Malibu eventually ridding its practices of pesticides.

“We do want to be the leaders of a poison-free city,” he added. “If we can balance without chemicals, that is the optimum for us.”

The IPM is not an ordinance, but a policy outline for how the city handles unwanted invaders ranging from squirrels to snakes to dandelions.