Point Dume Community Services District Gets Short Reprieve

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Malibu Elementary Collection

The Los Angeles County agency threatening to dissolve the Point Dume Community Services District has unanimously voted to give the community services group a second chance.

The officials who make up the Los Angeles County LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) agreed at a July 14 meeting to “extend a hand” in reinvigorating the agency.

LAFCO’s executive director, Paul Novak, had recommended the dissolution of the PDCSD after reviews showed the district appeared dormant for nearly a decade. Malibu City Council had a lukewarm response to dissolving the district in a recent split vote to take no action on the matter (rather than send a letter in support of the district). That council vote prompted LAFCO board member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger to comment, “That speaks volumes.”

However, after the testimony of some Point Dume residents, the LAFCO board was swayed into granting the PDCSD a reprieve. Lifelong resident Hap Henry, who has been nominated to serve as a board member for the district, told LAFCO his community is “building momentum as the neighborhood is rebuilding after the Woolsey Fire and a post-COVID world.”

Woolsey Fire victim Barbara O’Neill Ferris passionately spoke, pleading to not dissolve the district.

“On our street alone we lost 24 of 28 homes,” O’Neill Ferris said. “We are still reeling from the effects of the devastating fire. If there ever was a time we needed this district, it’s now.”

PDCSD was originally formed through the county in the mid 1980s to provide parks and recreational services after the closure of Point Dume Elementary School due to low enrollment 40 years ago. Those services are now provided by Malibu Elementary and the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu.

Novak claimed the district has languished for nearly a decade; the district claimed it has proposed a satellite community garden program and public recreational facilities. It was recently awarded a $200,000 grant by the Malibu Foundation to create a garden. In its vote, LAFCO is giving the district a Jan. 1, 2022, deadline to apply for those projects.

Regulations require that districts inform LAFCO what services they propose and how they will be funded. Novak claims PDCSD has not done so.  

“From our perspective, the PDCSD is authorized to provide recreation and park services. They’ve talked about doing that, forming a fire safe council, building a community garden, building a swim and tennis club [and starting] shuttle services, among other projects,” Novak said. “I have been telling them, state law requires they need to file a proposal with LAFCO to explain what service they want to provide and how they’ll pay for it.”  The reprieve also asks PDCSD to come back in a year and give a status report.

PDCSD does not receive government money. 

“The PDCSD does not receive any property tax dollars or other government funds. Through grants, fundraising and fees for services provided earlier, the district has roughly $17,000 in the bank,” Novak reported.

When The Malibu Times questioned Novak why he thinks the district wants to keep its official LAFCO status, he redirected the question back to district president Paul Major, saying, “I’ve been asking that question for three years and do not have an answer.” Novak confirmed when asked again if PDCSD receives any government money, “To the best of my knowledge, no.”

Novak clarified that he had no vote in the unanimous decision to give the PDCSD a January deadline to file an application for proposed projects. Voting members on the board include Barger and another supervisor, Holly Mitchell, plus chair Jerry Gladbach, vice-chairs Donald Dear and Gerard McCallum, and three others: Richard Close, Margaret Finlay and John Mirisch.

“I am a humble civil servant to … the elected officials who are my bosses. I make a recommendation as staff,” Novak said.

At the meeting, Novak was asked by board members if he would change his recommendation after hearing Point Dume’s testimony. After replying he would not, the board still voted for a reprieve with the January 1 deadline for project application.

The PDCSD’s status will be revisited next summer, although a final dissolution would require at least two additional public hearings.