Malibu residents resigned, angered by proposed ban on septic systems


The Malibu Times questions local residents and business owners on what they think of the proposed septic ban.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

With the Malibu City Council poised to respond to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board’s recent decision to ban septic systems throughout the broader Civic Center area, requiring affected property owners to pay for service from a centralized wastewater treatment system by 2015 (for commercial properties) and 2019 (for private property), Malibu residents and workers have mixed feelings about the verdict.

One Malibu resident interviewed, who refused to give his name, simply said, “I’m too (ticked) off to give rational commentary. These politicians…”

From Alaina Calise, a physical therapist and former Pepperdine University student: “The septic system is an issue that has to be taken care of. Sure, it will be a financial burden. But public health is more important.”

Harold Lee, a resident and freelance photographer: “It’s the cost of living in paradise. I don’t think it’s a good idea for someone like me, but it’s a good thing most people who live here in Malibu have money.”

Pepperdine University law student Megan Young said, “With or without the ban, the septic system will end up costing the people who live here. Part of the benefit of living here is the healthy environment and with water degradation, property values will go down. So, do you want to pay up front now or later on? It’s a question of public health.”

“The ban is long overdue. Yes, it will be expensive to hook up (to a wastewater treatment center), but clean water is more important” said resident and mortgage banker David Garrett. “People in the center of town will be hurt the most, but we have to do it.”

Three local friends who did not want to give their last names, Amir, Rocko and Rich, seemed resigned. Amir said, “It might be great for the environment, but my friends who live in their grandfather’s house on Malibu Road won’t be able to pay the high monthly fee. Why should the burden be on the residents? They should explore other ideas. Maybe we can ask Ozzie Silna to donate a few million.”

“Malibu is one of only two modern cities in the world without sewers,” Rich added. “It’s an idea whose time has come. The septic tanks are just a problem that keeps on growing, so we might as well deal with it now. I guess people are just afraid of change.”

And Rocko has plans: “In 2019, I’m moving to Santa Monica.”

Thirty-five-year resident Lin Bolen Wendkos said: “To be honest, I don’t think our city fathers have our long-term best interests. Septics are horrible, but look at Santa Monica, where their sewer systems overflow right into the bay. I’m an environmentalist, but we have to stop with bad planning.”

From Malibu resident and environmentalist Robert Pousman: “I support a sewer system and a ban on septic, but am skeptical. We need strict residential and commercial growth control, ash well as understanding that septic systems can and do fail. We need a proactive plan to deal with unchecked growth in Malibu.”

“I am an environmentalist and support the ban. If something is bad for our ocean, it affects us all,” Farnaz Gaminchi said.

“Polluting the ocean is not good,” said Barbara Dugan. “But neither is taking away people’s choice for dealing with the issue. I’d have to look at the science on both sides, but we need to work on this together. Polluting the ocean is not good.”