Cultural Resources to get clearer pictures

When a Chumash bowl was found last year during remodeling of the restaurant at Paradise Cove and it could not immediately be determined who should take possession, Sheriff’s deputies arrested the bowl. So, the Malibu City Council is authorizing the Native American Cultural Resources Advisory Committee to revise the city’s Cultural Resources Ordinance. The result, according to committee member Harold Greene, will be “a more flexible and understandable” policy.

“We have the privilege and reponsibility to redraft the Cultural Resources Ordinance,” Greene told the regular meeting of the committee Feb. 1 at City Hall. Greene and his wife Francine, who is chair of the volunteer committee, had presented their proposal at a special meeting of the City Council the night before.

“Francine and I were very excited when we left the meeting,” Greene said. “This is what the committee has been fighting for four years to be able to do.”

Under the current ordinance, some of the guidelines for protecting both cultural artifacts and property rights are murky and confusing. One oversite, according to Greene, is the lack of specifically designating Indian burial sites as a unique category.

The committee, Greene said, will simplify the language of the ordinance while conforming to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The redrafted ordinance will provide for speedier access to the Planning Commission for purposes of property evaluation, according to Greene. City Council members also requested the inclusion of an appeal or arbitration process.

Half or more of the Cultural Resources Ordinance, Greene said, involves the “phase evaluations” — the steps by which the city monitors the archeological sensitivity of a building site. The Planning Commission, he said, would not be responsive to major changes in the phases, and “it is not our job to fine tune phases one, two and three. It’s a Planning Commission problem.

“I do not believe the phase evaluations will impact on our goal,” Green said. “Our goal is preserving the important cultural resources in a fair way.”

Artifacts found on private land belong to the property owner, but, said committee member Redstar, a Chumash, descendents of local Native Americans appreciate a return of items into tribal hands.

In other business, the committee discussed alternative sites for the second annual Chumash Day, April 30. The Malibu Bay Company, Greene said, declined to make the open “Chili Cook-off” site available as it did last year. The committee voted to ask the city for permission to use the Civic Center. After a quick look, Redstar pronounced the area suitable for needs of the Native American performers.

This year’s theme will be “Honoring our Elders.”

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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