City government should work for citizens

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Much has been made lately of “Brown Act violations” by the City Council. I think it is time to think about why these accusations are important and what is going on in our city government. The Brown Act was put in place to assure that the public had a fair hearing when it came to decisions made by various state governments and agencies. The intent was to let the light shine on important debate and to eliminate back room deals.

Unfortunately our city government has taken the approach that our city attorney or pro-growth council members know what is best for the citizens of Malibu when it comes to environmental or planning issues. All too often neighborhood property owner groups are forced to defend their neighborhoods with expensive lawsuits that cost the city precious taxpayer funds that could be better used for other purposes. Our planning department openly refers to developers as “clients” when in fact the citizens of Malibu are their clients. The Latigo group had to fight the city’s ill-conceived Rubens settlement and the Trancas group had to fight the city to prevent the ill-conceived Trancas condo settlement. Both groups won and the city paid out a large amount of attorney’s fees not to mention our city attorney’s fees.

It has become a common practice of developers to sue the city for development rights that they do not have and settle with the city attorney for entitlements that are not due them behind closed doors. Citizen input is ignored. Unfortunately our city attorney, who has no planning experience, is the negotiator on important planning matters.

I think it is time the city reevaluate its legal focus and fight for the citizens interests rather than the developers. It is also time for the city to turn to a competent real estate attorney when it feels it must negotiate with developers. Our money could be better spent.

John Mazza