Smooth Sails For City, Mayor Says

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Mayor Skylar Peak addressed about 100 people who gathered on Friday for the State of the City breakfast at City Hall. 

While other cities struggle to rebound from tumultuous economic times, Mayor Skylar Peak declared the City of Malibu financially sound last week, touting its nearly $16 million in reserves — more than 60 percent of the annual budget. 

Peak’s remarks came during last Friday’s State of the City breakfast, hosted by the Malibu Chamber of Commerce at City Hall. The $25-a-seat event drew about 100 stakeholders from the business, political and financial community of Malibu. Breakfast was catered by V’s Restaurant. LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky also addressed the group, sharing his uncertainty of what the future holds for the county as it enters a major transition, including the end of his term as a supervisor.

Peak, whose 30-minute speech was accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation, was lighthearted throughout the address, starting it off by joking, “We’re putting City Hall up for sale and we’re going bankrupt.” 

But as he highlighted the city’s strengths, he pointed to its $15.7 million reserve fund.

When asked later why the City Council is keeping its reserve funds well above the necessary 50 percent threshold, Peak cited “fiscal responsibility.” The lofty reserve could end up being used for a multitude of costs, he said.

“If we have a project and we’re waiting to get grant money, we can use the money at that time. Any improvements [that need to be made] at Bluffs Park, hopefully it can be used there. It can be used to acquire more land for the city, to pay off Legacy Park,” Peak told The Malibu Times.

He went on to say it could also be a rainy day fund.

“We’re a city that’s committed to not spending beyond our means,” he told The Malibu Times. “God forbid there’s a shakeup in real estate prices, we’ll be able to use that to help our community.”

Other accomplishments, according to Peak, include the issuance of 2,200 parking citations through the first six months of 2014 and more than 150 arrests at DUI checkpoints — for DUI and various other offenses. 

When it came to issues the city plans to tackle in the coming months, Peak honed in on rehab facility crackdowns, enforcing taxes on short-term rentals and completing $8 million in improvement projects along Pacific Coast Highway. 

Yaroslavsky gives county update

Though the city is on solid ground, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky was less optimistic about the county’s future.

Yaroslavsky, who spoke after Peak, was candid about the county’s future, outlining an immense transition set to take place after the November election.

“We’re going to have a new sheriff in December, we’re going to have a new county tax assessor — thank God — and we’re going to have two new county supervisors in December. Our county counsel [John Krattli] announced last week that he’s leaving at the end of July and our chief executive officer [William Fujioka] announced that he’s leaving at the end of November,” Yaroslavsky said. 

“We’re losing a lot of institutional memory in the county, which is not a good thing,” he added. 

Former State Sen. Sheila Kuehl and former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver will run off in the November election to take over Yaroslavsky’s seat, representing 2 million Westside constituents.

New staff and elected officials will have to overcome a large learning curve, the 65-year-old said. 

He went on to criticize board colleagues who recently voted 3-1 to build a new $2 billion jail in Downtown LA, despite it having less beds than the one it’s replacing. He was the lone “no” vote and called it a “mistake,” arguing that the county should instead focus more on mental health issues among prisoners. 

“By the time it’s done, it’ll be well over $2 billion.” 

But it was not all bad news, as Yaroslavsky reflected on the work he did to help the county, and specifically Malibu, during his two decades on the Board of Supervisors. Most recently, he helped push through a land use and protection plan for the Santa Monica Mountains. 

Emily Sawicki contributed to this report.