From the Publisher: Around the town

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Arnold G. York

Last week we heard via a guest editorial written by Mark Soble, Anne Soble’s son, that Anne was seriously ill and no longer able to continue on as publisher and editor of the Malibu Surfside News. Anne is now out of ICU but still very ill and it is unclear if there will be a Surfside News this week, or in the future. We all wish Anne a quick recovery and a return of her health. 

Normally, summer is the quiet season for Malibu. Typically, everyone takes time off to vacation or just goes to the beach, but this summer promises to be somewhat different. There are a number of things in the pipeline, many of which may come to a head his summer.

The Formula Retail Ordinance, which would put some limitations on chain stores, promises to be highly controversial, with some landowners gearing up for a political and legal battle. Some locals, who are resistant to us becoming a shopping destination, are talking about controls on commercial growth, whether through the council or through the ballot. 

Connected with the growth issue, particularly in the Civic Center area, is the issue of the cumulative impact of the traffic and the growing shortage of parking, and whether the city will agree to some parking structure or some other solution—and who is going to pay for these solutions. 

Summer will see the first public workshops on the plans to remove, in a $50 million to $100 million project, the almost 100-year-old Rindge Dam, located a few miles up Malibu Creek. The plan is being pushed by the California Dept. of Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in an attempt to bring back the Malibu steelhead trout, among other reasons, and promises to be a major fight, and not just because of the staggering price tag. Many downstream, which includes the entire Civic Center and Serra Retreat, are very apprehensive about the impact of removing the dam. 

The Malibu Pier, which in the past has had a spotty history on keeping and maintaining restaurants, will once again have a new restaurant, café and bar. This time around, the pier concessionaire is opening the restaurant himself and it’s uncertain if he can get it open in time for the start of the summer. 

The land swap, where the city would give up Charmlee Wilderness Park in west Malibu and get in return 83 acres of Bluffs Park, land large enough for ballfields and some additional parking, will probably come up this summer. That promises to be very controversial.

The Broad Beach GHAD, formed to try and restore what was once one of Malibu’s best beaches, is struggling to find scientifically suitable sand, close enough to Malibu and available to hold off the ongoing erosion of the beach. You might think sand is just sand, but that is most definitely not the case, and the GHAD has burned through a hunk of money ($5 million) trying to find the right fit. 

There are a number of Civic Center development projects in the pipeline, including a hotel at PCH and Malibu Canyon, a Whole Foods development off of Civic Center Way, along with several other projects on the same street and in other areas of the Civic Center. A number of these commercial projects have been stalled for some time because of the recession and or lack of financing. That money logjam appears to be breaking up and projects are again beginning to move forward. 

The supply, storage and delivery of water has always been a problem in Malibu. The county through, the county-owned Water Works District 29, is developing plans to try and solve the problem but again the preliminary studies and cost estimates are staggering. The district roughly estimated $266 million to do both Topanga and Malibu with Malibu’s share being about $209 million. No matter what, expect our water rates to go up and up and up to help repair and replace pieces of the current and worn-out water system that has long since outlived its life expectancy. The best part of Malibu is that we’re 26 miles long and not very dense, but that’s also the problem. Anything that has to be repaired or replaced has a rather limited pool of homeowners to pick up the cost. 

Stay tuned. It’s going to be a busy summer.