The Malibu Times takes a look back at the past year, which was full of controversy over water quality and development issues (things not new to Malibu), high school night lights and worsening reports of budget cuts for local schools. In the midst of it all, light shone on hope for a better nation, as locals traveled to Washington for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Locally, Malibu’s children showed promise with firsts in sports and the city’s first ever youth summit.

January

-Former Malibu resident Alex Soteras accuses Assemblymember Julia Brownley and Sen. Fran Pavley of conspiring to remove him from the Regional Water Quality Control Board. Pavley refuses to comment. Brownley’s spokesperson denies the accusation.

-Malibu actor Ryan O’Neal pleads guilty to felony possession of methamphetamine. The charge will be removed if he completes a court-ordered drug diversion program.

-The Times receives a notice that an anonymous buyer purchased the Malibu Inn for $5.3 million in a foreclosure auction. Rumors swirl through the city on who the buyer could be.

-The City Council unanimously votes to delay a decision on whether to grant a permit to U2 guitarist The Edge, whose real name is David Evans, for a 1,600-square-foot private road. The council wants to wait until the California Coastal Commission makes a decision on five houses proposed for development at the end of the road. The homes are outside the city’s jurisdiction. This property has been one of contention through several owners for more than a decade.

-Calling the financial situation “the worst of the worst case scenarios,” Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District officials say $3 million must be cut from this year’s budget.

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-A Van Nuys Superior Court judge rules there is sufficient evidence for Corral Fire suspects Brian Alan Anderson, 23, and Thomas Coppock, 24, to go to trial.

-Some Malibuites travel to Washington D.C. to attend the inauguration and surrounding festivities of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama. Others watch the speech at home. Chantal Miller, 13, says, “I thought it was really cool how we have the first African-American president … I think he wants everyone to support the people who are having a tough time.”

-The Planning Commission approves the final Environmental Impact Report for Legacy Park. Although the project is supposed to curb pollution of the Malibu watershed, some environmentalists say it does not do enough. Kirsten James, director of water quality at Heal the Bay, calls the project, “A big disappointment.”

-Malibu High School field light opponents put some heat on Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District officials. Several residents hold signs during a workshop stating “Say No to 203,” reflecting the number of nights proposed by the district that the field would be lit throughout the school year. One resident promises litigation if permanent lights are installed.

February

-The Regional Water Quality Control Board proposes a $1.65 million fine for the Kissel Co., owner of the Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park. The RWQCB’s complaint states Kissel allowed 17 raw sewage spills into Ramirez Creek and the ocean.

-The Malibu Times announces its 2008 Dolphin Awards winners. They are Alexis Deutsch-Adler, Debra Caraway, Chris Cortazzo, Fran Drescher, Jonathan Friedman, Rebecca Gray, David Kagon, Scott Hosfeld and Maria Newman.

-The SMMUSD appoints Tim Cuneo as permanent head of the school district.

-Nearly 30 Corral Fire victims come with before-and-after photos to the sentencing of Brian David Franks. The 28-year-old is sentenced to five years probation and 300 hours community service as part of a plea bargain. He also agrees to testify against the other four defendants. Many fire victims say his sentence does not fit the crime.

-The City Council approves a permit to begin the construction of Trancas Canyon Park. A large number of residents who live near the park bash the decision. At the same meeting, the council bans skateboarding in areas deemed dangerous, such as steep canyons and parking lots.

-The Malibu High School girls soccer team reaches the CIF quarterfinals, the furthest ever for the squad. The tight battle does not go the Sharks’ way on penalty kicks.

-A sign of the economic downturn, Pepperdine University is forced to cut its women’s swimming and diving team, as well as its men’s track and field squad.

-Malibu Little League opens its 65th season to the usual big crowds and energetic festivities.

-The Malibu High School girls’ water polo team reaches the CIF championship for the first time. The team loses a hard-fought battle to Bonita.

March

-Linda Androlia, membership director for the Malibu Garden Club, tells The Malibu Times the 50-year-old group could be in danger of folding due to an aging membership and a lack of new, younger members.

-The 2009 Dolphin Award winners are honored at a ceremony at Malibu West Beach Club.

-The City Council votes 3-2 to deny two appeals against Trancas Park. With opposition heavy, council members predict litigation. In another 3-2 vote at the same meeting, the council rejects four environmental groups’ appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval for Legacy Park.

-For the first time since they began tracking the lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains, the National Park Service detects a tagged mountain lion crossing Highway 101 from the Simi Hills south to the hills above Malibu. NPS biologist Jeff Sikich says, “This proves the vital need for safe corridors for these animals to expand their hunting grounds.”

-The Cornucopia Foundation applies for a permit to run the farmers market at the County Courthouse property where it ran the farm until 2005.

-The Malibu Pier is recognized by the Los Angeles Conservancy with a Preservation Award. Built in 1905 by Frederick Hastings Rindge, the pier was restored in a decade-long process following destructive storms in 1993 and 1995.

-A Ventura County judge rules against Ramirez Canyon homeowners in their attempt to fight off the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s plan to bring overnight camping to the area. The homeowners sought an injunction against the plan, which will go to the California Coastal Commission in June.

April

-The Santa Monica Baykeeper files a lawsuit against the city over the approval of Legacy Park claiming the project does not meet water quality standards.

-Local leaders and environmental activists attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for Malibu Green Machine as its Pacific Coast Highway median beautification project breaks ground.

-The Malibu Lumber Yard mall opens at a celebrity-filled event. Attendees enjoy cocktails and music as they celebrate the new complex owned by Richard Weintraub and Richard Sperber and that includes 15 retail and food establishments.

-The Malibu West Homeowners Association votes 76-73 to sue the city over the approval of Trancas Canyon Park.

-Marilyn Chambers, who became world famous in the 1970s for appearing in edgy porn films, is remembered at memorial service at Zuma Beach. She died in Santa Clarita, but the memorial site is chosen because Chambers “loved Zuma Beach and felt at peace there,” a friend says.

-The Malibu Township Council takes over the Trancas Canyon Park lawsuit.

-A Malibu Times article notes the continually changing local retail landscape. Italian luxury retailer Missoni will come to Cross Creek Plaza. Three additional shops are opening at Malibu Country Mart.

-The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board cites 38 Malibu businesses for alleged violations of their wastewater discharge permits. Among the violation notice recipients are Cross Creek Plaza, Malibu Country Mart and Malibu Colony Plaza.

-More than 200 residents of all ages come to Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue to participate in the Malibu Foundation for Youth and Families’ “Power of Possibility Leadership Summit.” A frank discussion takes place on various youth issues.

May

-Young musicians and their fans gather at the Battle of the Bands competition at the Malibu Teen Center, organized by the Malibu Youth Commission. A Ventura band, Illusionary, takes first prize.

-Jennifer McIntyre is honored with The Malibu Times Mother of the Year Rosie Award.

-Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District staff present $4 million in budget cuts to the Board of Education. But officials say the actual cuts might need to be even higher.

-To deal with a $1.2 million budget deficit from the previous fiscal year and to help balance the current fiscal year’s budget, city staff recommends a tax collection on short-term rentals of private homes, which amounts to 12 percent of the rental price.

-Kambiz Hakim is revealed as the man who purchased the Malibu Inn in January. He is the owner of Paseo Del Mar office building in Santa Monica and previously remodeled the building located at 22761 Pacific Coast Highway.

-The View Protection Task Force approves a draft ordinance by a 7-2 vote. Mayor Andy Stern blasts the proposal saying the task force was not assigned to write an ordinance. He later admits to not having read the document, but says that does not change the issue.

-Heal the Bay places Surfrider Beach as No. 8 on its Top 10 Beach Bummers list for all of California. Surfrider is joined by several other local beaches as recipients of the F grade, including Paradise Cove Pier, Escondido Creek, Solstice Canyon at Dan Blocker County Beach, Marie Canyon at Puerco Beach and Castle Rock Beach.

-The Malibu High School softball team finishes its season with a loss in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. The team went further in the postseason than any previous MHS softball squad.

June

-The City Council approves a revised version of Trancas Canyon Park, with the excessive ridge grading removed. But many are still unhappy, including Malibu Township Council members who have a pending lawsuit against the city over the park. Among other complaints, they say the declaration against league play is not strong enough.

-The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approves a mandatory water conservation plan in District 29, which includes Malibu. Residents are encouraged to reduce consumption by 15 percent or risk a fee surcharge.

-Malibu High loses its status as a California Distinguished School. This comes after a correction in data reveals state test scores of the school’s special education students are lagging.

-The Board of Education approves $4.4 million in cuts for the Santa Monica Malibu-Unified School District. The budget reductions mean increased class sizes for grades K-3 and 6-12, as well as reduced funding for special education and some contracted services.

-Miss Malibu Tami Farrell is elevated to the title of Miss California USA 2009 after beauty pageant owner Donald Trump fires Carrie Prejean for allegedly not carrying out her duties as Miss California.

-After several hours of testimony from Malibu residents, officials and supporters of overnight camping in Malibu, the California Coastal Commission votes to approve the plan by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s to create 29 overnight camping sites in Malibu. The city’s request to ban overnight camping is unanimously rejected by the commission.

-The 14th class of Malibu High School graduates June 18. Diplomas are handed to 179 graduates. The valedictorian is Sarah Kate Zweig. The Malibu Times Citizen of the Year Award goes to Simon Ettenger and Theadora Stutsman.

-The city purchases the Malibu Performing Arts Center for $15 million in bankruptcy proceedings. Former center owner Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Malibu filed for bankruptcy in late 2008. The facility is to become the new City Hall.

-The City Council adopts an ordinance to ban smoking in all public open spaces. The ban prohibits smoking within 20 feet of a public event and outdoor dining areas on public and private property.

-The council votes to sue the state over the Coastal Commission’s decision on the overnight camping matter.

-Pop culture icon and Malibu resident Farrah Fawcett dies after a long battle with cancer age 62. The death of Michael Jackson a day later overshadows the news of her death.

-One man is killed and his son is seriously injured in the early morning hours on Pacific Coast Highway when an alleged drunk driver’s car strikes two bicyclists. Robert Sanchez, a City of Malibu records clerk, allegedly drove the car.

-Malibu resident Zack Bornstein wins the Pentathlon at the USA Youth Track and Field Championships in Ypsilanti, Mich.

July

-After hearing from football players, parents and Malibu High School Principal Mark Kelly, the Board of Education approves the steps toward getting the legal endorsement to use temporary field lights for evening football games at Malibu High, despite opposition from local residents.

-An article in The Malibu Times reveals a Los Angeles Superior Court judge recently dismissed a lawsuit by Corral Fire victims against the state. The law firms representing the victims say they intend to file an appeal.

-Approximately 500,000 visitors come to the city’s beaches for the three-day Independence Day weekend. But at Paradise Cove Beach, things are not so calm. A brawl leaves “people bleeding profusely,” an eyewitness says.

-The city files its lawsuit against the state over the Coastal Commission’s approval for the Malibu overnight camping plan. City Attorney Christi Hogin says, “This transcends Malibu issues because it’s such an usurpation of local land use authority.”

-Development of Richard Weintraub’s 146-room Adamson Hotel, which received city approval more than 10 years ago, has come to a halt due to a $21.5 million mortgage debt. A company controlled by Weintraub has filed a lawsuit against a partner in the project.

-A mid-afternoon power outage puts Malibu residents and businesses from Corral Canyon to at least the Big Rock area in the dark for several hours. The outage is blamed on failing electrical substations in Malibu and the Valley due to higher-than-usual use of electricity because of high temperatures.

-A 10- to 12-foot great white shark is spotted one mile off the coast of Malibu Colony. A rescued 400-pound sea lion is believed to be a victim of the shark. But the sighting does nothing to deter visitors from coming to Malibu’s beaches.

-A fire at Malibu High School destroys a science classroom and kills several reptiles and fish. The damage is estimated at $100,000.

-Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich is unable to get any of her colleagues to support her formula retail ordinance proposal. The council votes 4-1 not to include the item that would limit retail stores in Malibu on the 2010 ballot. Mayor Andy Stern calls the proposal “a great solution for a problem that does not exist.”

August

-Blaming the polluted Malibu watershed on the city’s leaky septic systems, the Regional Water Quality Control Board places an item on its October agenda to ban them in the Civic Center and surrounding areas.

-The Planning Commission approves the plans for the Trancas Country Market, which will add 25,000 square feet of commercial space to existing shopping center off Trancas Canyon Road.

-Three City of Los Angeles men are arrested while allegedly attempting to break into cars along Pacific Coast Highway. Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s officials say the men may be part of a car theft ring responsible for a recent spate of vehicle break-ins and thefts in Malibu.

-Local Realtors tell The Malibu Times that the real estate market in this city is on the upswing. Although getting financing is still difficult, sales are getting stronger for cash buyers.

-Ernst Katz, who founded the Little Symphony (now called the Jr. Philharmonic) in 1937 to give hope to children during the Depression, dies at age 95 of natural causes. The Malibu resident is remembered for inspiring the more than 10,000 youths who have participated in the orchestra.

-A federal judge sentences Malibu resident John McCarthy to 40 months in prison following his guilty plea guilty on a charge of tax evasion. McCarthy evaded at least $1 million in taxes through the use of Swiss bank accounts.

-Bianca Peters, 19, is crowned Miss Malibu 2010. Farrah Griffin, 14, earns the honor of Miss Malibu Teen USA.

-More than 1,000 people attend a memorial service and paddle-out to pay tribute to activist and ocean lover Dustan “Dusty” Peak, who died at age 58 on Aug. 17 at his Malibu home.

September

-City officials come to a Regional Water Quality Control Board hearing to request the septic ban hearing be moved from Nov. 5 to a date in the future after several studies are completed. The request is rejected. RWQCB head Tracy Egoscue says there is already “considerable science” showing the ban is necessary. Mayor Andy Stern says the board’s refusal to delay the vote shows politics, rather than science, is the motive.

-An estimated 18,000 people come to Legacy Park on Labor Day Weekend to enjoy the final Chili Cook-Off on that site. But the good times are soured when at least two local newspaper photographers are kicked off the property for taking photographs. Event organizers say the ban exists to prevent a “paparazzi invasion.” But one photographer says she was told by officials that MTV paid “large amounts of money” to prevent other photographers from appearing.

-Although she has been on maternity leave since April, Planning Manager Stacey Lundin officially resigns from her post because she recently became a mother and could not meet the demands of a planning manager’s schedule.

-A Wells Fargo executive is in hot water when it is discovered she has been using a foreclosed Malibu Colony home for living and party hosting. The situation gains international attention and leads to the firing of the executive.

-Thousands compete in the 23rd annual Nautica Malibu Triathlon. Laura Bennet wins the women’s race. Her husband, Greg, wins the men’s competition.

-At a rowdy hearing that has Planning Commission Chair Ed Gillespie banging on his gavel several times, Cornucopia Foundation is selected over Calabasas-based Raw Inspiration to hold the Malibu Farmers’ Market. Cornucopia must still get approval to use the county courthouse land. Also at the session, Commissioner John Mazza compares a recent decision by the City Council that went against a city staff recommendation to Dick Cheney forcing federal attorneys to write documents in support of torture.

-Twenty-four-year-old Los Angeles resident Mitrice Richardson disappears after she is released from custody at the Malibu/Lost Hills Station in Agoura. She had been arrested for not paying her dinner bill in Malibu and for possession of marijuana in her car.

State and County representatives join city officials at the Legacy Park ground-breaking. Not joining in the celebration are local environmental groups, who oppose the project.

-Critics call it “a bailout” and city officials say it’s a “rent deferral,” when the council votes unanimously to allow Malibu Lumber Yard mall owners Richard Weintraub and Richard Sperber to pay less money than stated in the original lease agreement. They will have to make up the money in the future. Also at the meeting, council members blast John Mazza for his comparing them to Dick Cheney earlier in the month.

-Longtime customers come to Point Dume Chinese for their final farewell. The restaurant is forced to close because it cannot afford the new rent.

October

-Daniel Forge, who with his wife has been a longtime owner of the BeauRivage restaurant, tells The Malibu Times he will fight the state’s attempt to take over part of his property. The California Department of Transportation says it needs the land to conduct a project that will reintroduce steelhead trout to Solstice Creek.

-At a workshop on the proposed septic ban, RWQCB scientist Elizabeth Erickson says it is “a distortion” that any studies will determine septic systems are not to blame for Malibu’s watershed pollution. The next day, Dr. Richard Ambrose of UCLA, who is heading one of the studies, says his unfinished research is looking to prove just that. He says Erickson is choosing to interpret his findings to reach the conclusion she wants.

-Michael Richardson, whose daughter Mitrice has not been seen since the early hours of Sept. 17 after being released from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, calls Mayor Andy Stern at least twice to discuss the matter. Calling the tone of the calls abusive, Stern files a report with the Sheriff’s Station.

-The City Council passes the Viewshed Task Force’s ordinance to go before a subcommittee for review. The subcommittee will also review a rival proposal from two members of the task force.

-Despite a recommendation by its staff to approve the request, the California Coastal Commission rejects the school district’s request for temporary lights at the Malibu High football field. At the City Council meeting that follows, Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Barovsky calls the decision “despicable” and Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich says it is “not American.”

-Also at the meeting, Coastal adds a sting to its summer approval for overnight camping by placing Bluffs Park on the list of possible camping sites. A letter from City Attorney Christi Hogin opposes the decision on various grounds. Commission Director Peter Douglas tells The Malibu Times, “That’s Christi Hogin for you. Just about anything we do, she doesn’t like.”

-Local education activist Laura Rosenthal announces her intention to run for City Council in April. She joins Planning Commissioner Ed Gillespie on the short list of candidates who have announced their intentions to seek the two open seats on the council.

– The Board of Education declines a staff recommendation to hire a public relations officer, which would have cost more than $100,00 with salary and benefits. Board member Jose Escarce says it would be “a very bad idea politically” to support such a concept when the district is facing severe financial problems.

-Faced with opposition from the local newspapers, the City Council backs down from an attempt to change meeting dates from Monday to Tuesday. Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Barovsky, who had proposed the idea, had said it would be better for staff. Local newspaper publishers said it would have hampered council meeting coverage, as they go to print Tuesday nights.

-The City Council offers a $15,000 reward for information leading to finding Mitrice Richardson.

November

-The city announces an alternative plan to the septic system ban. With its plan, area residents and businesses would be charged fees to finance a $30.8 million centralized wastewater treatment system.

-An all day hearing in downtown Los Angeles ends with a 5-2 vote in favor of banning septic systems in the Civic Center and the surrounding area. City officials vow to fight when the item goes to the state board for final approval.

-Malibu Presbyterian Church congregants gather at a new, temporary structure for the first time since their church was destroyed in the October 2007 fire.

-Sharon Barovsky is sworn in as mayor. Jefferson Wagner becomes mayor pro tem.

-A task force assigned with making a proposal for new fishing rules in the Southern California waters votes to ban fishing of all kinds in coastal waters off Point Dume. The proposal also calls for limited fishing in the ocean from west of Westward Beach to Lechuza Beach. Environmentalists applaud the decision. Commercial and recreation fishing supporters do not approve. The proposal must go before the California Fish and Game Commission.

-Local veterans are honored at Pepperdine University’s Heroes Garden in an event hosted by Pepperdine, the Malibu Chamber of Commerce and the city.

-A large number of people participate in the first annual Malibu International Marathon, which starts in Ventura County and finishes at Zuma Beach. The men’s winner is Todd Martin of Pacific Palisades, 39, with a time of two hours, 58 minutes and 23.7 seconds. Lisa Fink of Newhall, 39, won the women’s race in 3:01.48.1.

-Malibu High School wins 14-0 over Villanova in its Homecoming game. Dax Andrus was crowned Homecoming King. Homecoming Queen is Eunice Kim.

-A column appears in the Los Angeles Times written by Steve Lopez quoting Mayor Pro Tem Jefferson Wagner being in favor of the septic ban. Wagner later says he was not misquoted, raising some eyebrows within the city, among fellow council members as well.

-Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District officials tell attendees at a workshop that the district could need to cut as much as $9 million from its budget.

-Heal the Bay Executive Director Mark Gold writes a blog entry titled “A Shameful Screw-Up” in reaction to the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s large reduction of the proposed fine for Kissel Co.’s alleged pollution violations with Paradise Cove. The reduction from $1.65 million to $56,000 occurs because the RWQCB had failed to issue a cease and desist order to Kissel.

December

-The Malibu Times reports on a study by local real estate broker Tony Dorn that office vacancy in Malibu is 16 percent. Eight percent of retail spaces are not being used.

-The Malibu Township Council and the city reach a deal on the Trancas Canyon Park lawsuit. The MTC agrees to drop the suit in return for a guarantee that there can never be league play at the park unless the MTC OKs it. Four City Council members support the agreement. Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who wants league plays, votes against it.

-The City Council approves a design for the new City Hall, which includes the elimination of nearly half the concert hall seats to create council chambers, to the dismay of some who feel the chambers should continue to be used as a concert venue.

-Proponents and opponents pack council chambers for a subcommittee meeting on a possible ordinance that would change the city’s rules to pave way for lights at Malibu’s sports field.

-Lou La Monte, who served on the Viewshed Ordinance Task Force, announces he will run for City Council. His campaign manager is former Mayor Joan House. Planning Commissioner Regan Schaar and Kofi, an artist, also join the race.

-Many in Malibu lose a friend with the death of Peter F. “Pete” McKellar, longtime owner of the Country Liquor Store. He was 68.

-Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca orders a homicide investigation regarding the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson. A Sheriff’s Department spokesperson stresses this does not mean Baca believes she is dead. The following week, Congresswoman Maxine Waters requests the FBI to conduct a probe into the disappearance of Richardson, and into the actions of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station’s officials regarding the circumstances of her release from jail, alone and with no money or transportation.

-Jennifer Jones, who achieved Hollywood stardom in “The Song of Bernadette” and other films of the 1940s and ’50s, dies at age 90 in her Malibu home.

-It is a double whammy for the Baykeeper when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismisses two of the nonprofit’s lawsuits against the city regarding Legacy Park and the La Paz project.

-A new planning director, Joyce Parker-Bozylinski, is appointed. It is a position she retained for the city in the early nineties.

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

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