Meet the Candidate: Jim Palmer

Jim Palmer

In preparation for this November’s city council election, The Malibu Times will be sitting down with all five candidates vying for one of two open seats.

The order for each interview has been determined by a blind drawing, with candidate Jim Palmer picked to go first.

This is an abridged version of a much longer Q&A, which can be found here.

My first question is, what would you say is the theme of your campaign?

The theme of my campaign is to provide experience and expertise in management. I have a background in accounting, so I understand how business works, how organizations operate. I believe that I can bring to the city council an oversight into the operations of the city, and possibly do a performance audit to determine our strengths and our weaknesses within our city.

That would be my real focus: protecting, preserving and improving the lives of our community.

Tell me a little bit about your history in Malibu and what from your past prepares you to take on this role.

I’ve been a lifelong resident of Malibu—lived here over 50 years. I grew up surfing at Malibu Surfrider’s Beach with Gidget. I’ve seen Malibu transcend from a sleepy little beach town run by the Malibu Township Council into cityhood and then grow to a point, 25 years later, where now we’ve acquired a large amount of property that we’ve taken off the market. Now, we can really do something special to create, plan to develop this property for the community. For our kids, for our community.

Having lived in Malibu, I have had businesses in Malibu.

I have experience in the way that the city operates and the way that the city treats small businesses. I think they can be a lot kinder to our local businesses. 

I have been appointed to public works [commission] by Rick Mullen. I am now the chairman of public works, and I have an insight into the way that the city operates, and the efficiencies and the inefficiencies that occur. 

You have mentioned a couple times your experience as a public works commissioner. Can you go into a little more detail about how that would be useful as a council member?

One of the things that I did when I became a commissioner was to request from the public works department a list of all the drains that discharge water into our ocean. I walk on Malibu Road a lot, and I have seen over the last year water being discharged from various sources into the ocean with no controls. Now, I have reported this to public works, who they have deferred me to the environmental department—Craig George. They have supposedly made reports; however, I’m very frustrated that nothing has been done, because I was just walking down there yesterday and there was water coming out of the drains and going into the ocean. So, what I think I can do is help finish some of these projects that get started and never get completed.

In a couple of interviews, you’ve mentioned maintaining Malibu’s quality of life as a key aspect of your campaign. Do you feel that the town’s quality of life is threatened?

No, I don’t feel that our quality of life is threatened. I have heard comments from many of the Malibu residents that have said when they travel around the world, they come back to Malibu, and they realize this is the best place there is. They find that coming back home to Malibu is better than the exotic and beautiful places there are in the world. Now, I’ve traveled, and I have to say, I’ve said the same thing. 

No, our quality of life is not in jeopardy; however, I believe we should at least continue to maintain the quality we currently have and, and in any way that we can, improve on it.

What about public safety? It seems like with the shooting in Malibu Creek, the murder in Bluffs Park and bodies found in the mountains, there are people in town who are growing concerned that Malibu isn’t as safe as it used to be. Do you think that Malibu has become less safe and should council be held accountable?

My primary concern is the safety of everyone, but specifically, the safety of the residents of Malibu. Now, I was told through the city management that we have over 15 million people a year that come to Malibu as tourists. So, just by the sheer numbers of people coming to our community, there probably is a higher level of crime. 

I believe that we can be more vigilant and that we can work closer with the sheriff’s and the law enforcement agencies to provide more protection to our community. 

This is also in relation to traffic, as well. I believe we can put more traffic officers on the highway that would help control the speed limits and prevent accidents because we are on track, probably, to have more fatalities on the Pacific Coast Highway this year than in the past.

OK, so, how would you go about adding that? Would that be a conversation with the city manager, regarding the budget?

Yes, it would definitely be a budget issue. Cities work—governments work—differently than private businesses. Whereas businesses can make quick decisions, a lot of the decisions in the city cannot be made quickly.

We just bought $42 million worth of commercial real estate that we’re now bringing into the city’s domain, so I’m sure by looking closely at budgeting and how the allocation of the budgets are directed, we can find some way to increase public safety through law enforcement.

You mentioned earlier that you felt the City of Malibu could be friendlier to small business owners. Do you want to go into that a little bit more or describe how you might change that if you were elected?

I would try to implement some sort of a policy or procedure that would help our local small businesses. My experience has always been the subject of over-regulation, of a lot of administrative work that really has no value as far as operating a business. So, I hope that, if I do get elected, I can work with the small business owners and use more of a commonsense approach to help our local businesses. 

Could you describe a little bit of what a common sense governing strategy would be, or policy would be?

One of the current examples, which deals with public safety, is that Malibu Towing, which has been here for 30 years, is now no longer in Malibu. We don’t have a towing service. If there’s an accident and the sheriff calls for a tow, they have to come from Oxnard. Before, they could get here in 15 minutes. Now, it’s going to take them an hour to two hours. 

I know that Councilman Wagner has approached the city to help solve this problem. I know that in the new purchase of land the city has just acquired, the triangular piece down there between the coast highway and Webb Way and Civic Center Way is zoned for a towing service. The county had parked their machinery, their equipment, there for years, ok? So, as a commonsense approach, the city might bring back Malibu Towing on a short-term, temporary basis, to provide these public service needs to our community.

You were appointed to the public works commission by Council Member Rick Mullen. Would you say that your politics align with his and do you anticipate voting the same way that he does?

I would have to answer yes. I admire Rick. I am very honored that he was appointing me to this position. And yes, I do agree with current Mayor Mullen and his positions and I would have to say yes, I could be considered someone who would vote with him.

What do you think the No. 1 issue facing Malibu today is, and how would you plan to tackle it?

It’s difficult to prioritize “No. 1 problems,” because we do have more than one problem. We could list many problems. I think by speaking to the residents of Malibu, that our No. 1 problem is safety on Pacific Coast Highway. 

I think if we just enforced our codes and held everyone accountable to the same standard, that we would solve a lot of these problems. So, by eliminating some of the existing problems, and then working with the sheriff, Caltrans and California Highway Patrol to hopefully lower the speeds and to provide more traffic enforcement, we can solve a lot of problems and, most important, we can prevent deaths from occurring on the highway. 

The next candidate Q&A, featuring Mikke Pierson, will appear in the Oct. 4 edition of The Malibu Times.