Seeking to give Paradise Cove mobilehome owners a say in resolving the criminal case against park owner The Kissel Co., officials recently agreed to postpone the trial until October. The case, set to go to trial July 20, arose out of 45 counts of environmental crimes stemming from a series of alleged sewage overflows since January 1997.
Deputy District Attorney Rob Miller, representing the People of the state of California, and Malibu Municipal Court Judge Lawrence Mira agreed to The Kissel Co.’s request to continue the trial until after the mobilehome owners vote on paying for the installation of a new septic system.
“I don’t want to be misinterpreted,” said Miller. “Remediation of the public health threat will not make the case go away. I don’t anticipate a dismissal in this case. I just don’t, for the moment, want to get in the way of an improvement of the septic system at the park if that, in fact, looks like it’s going to happen.”
A $1.8 million system proposed last month at a mediation meeting would cost the mobilehome owners $70 a month for 15 years. Fifty percent plus one of the spaces in the park must agree to the “pass-through” for the city to allow it, The Kissel Co. said in a July 7 letter, and the ballots must be returned to them by Aug. 1.
Countering a letter acting Paradise Cove Homeowner Association President Sheldon Michel sent last week urging a “No” vote until competitive bids can be obtained, Kissel attorney Richard Regnier said Michel was not speaking for a majority of the homeowners. There was no “sweetheart deal,” said Regnier. The proposed system was “state of the art” and could meet statewide septic system discharge standards set by the state Assembly Bill 885 (which was recently withdrawn by its sponsor) or other environmental standards.
In continuing the case to Oct. 12 for trial or settlement, Mira speculated it would be premature to have the vote taken before more bids are presented to the tenants. “If the pass-through is the critical issue, I don’t think we can rely on that decision being made in the very near future,” he said.
Resolution of the criminal action affects two civil lawsuits. In one, The Kissel Co. has sued the city of Malibu for failing to allow a rent increase. In the second, set for trial in November, certain mobilehome owners have sued The Kissel Co. for failing to maintain the park.