New City Council calls for end of divisiveness

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From left: Mayor Pro Tem Andy Stern, Mayor Sharon Barovsky, Councilmembers Ken Kearsley, Jeff Jennings and Pamela Conley Ulich at the swearing in ceremony Monday night for the newly-elected members. Photos by Richard Frinta

Outgoing councilmember Joan House says there is too much mudslinging in Malibu. New Mayor Sharon Barovsky says she will contact her opponents about helping the council deal with development issues.

By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer

The City Council said goodbye to its longest-serving member at its meeting Monday. Joan House ended her 12-year tenure on the council with a speech in which she said she was pleased with what the council had accomplished, but that she was concerned about divisiveness in the city.

Ken Kearsley and Jeff Jennings were sworn in for their second-consecutive terms on the council at Monday’s meeting, and Pamela Conley Ulich was installed for her first term. Sharon Barovsky was appointed by her colleagues to become mayor of Malibu’s eighth City Council, with Andy Stern named as mayor pro tem.

During a portion of her farewell speech, House pretended to be in the year 2024, and reflected upon what the city had accomplished since 2004. By 2024, House imagined that Malibu would have 100 percent nonpolluting septic systems, have created a municipal shuttle system, built a park at the Chili Cook-Off site and lawsuits would become an endangered species.

“These dreams are mine, and I believe that some or all of them are shared by a good many of our community members,” House said. “And I do not doubt for a moment that our collective dreams are attainable.”

House said, during her tenure, she had witnessed too much divisiveness in the city, with Malibuites “[throwing] mud at one another as fast as they drank their lattes.” She said she hoped the situation turns out to be growing pains for a young city, and one that would vanish by 2024.

House said there were a number of accomplishments she was proud of during her time on the council. They included the passage of the General Plan and zoning ordinance, a joint-use agreement with the school district for ball fields and the high school swimming pool, the rebuilding of Kanan Dume Road, the creation of a budget reserve to protect the city when a disaster comes, the purchase of Las Flores and Trancas Park and the opening of the Senior Center.

Several local and state agencies recognized House for her years on the council with plaques and various accommodations. She also received her second Malibu Tile. Her fellow councilmembers gave her a diary with the city seal and her name on the cover.

Barovsky also spoke about ending city polarization in her inaugural speech as mayor. She said in the next week she will contact Malibu Community Network Activist Ozzie Silna and others associated with the organization about serving the council in an advisory capacity on handling development issues. Malibu CAN has been a vocal opponent of the council, calling it pro-development.

“We must find a way to heal the wounds inflicted by the bitter rhetoric and the personal attacks,” Barovsky said. “It has poisoned our community and paralyzed our progress.”

Barovsky said she took her seat as mayor in honor of her late husband, Harry. He died in March 2000, just one month before he would have become mayor. Barovsky said she hoped she could do half as good a job as he would have done. She also quoted him when speaking about doing away with bitterness in the community.

“It’s time we engaged in civil debate, not civil war,” Barovsky said.

Conley Ulich spoke about several things she would like to accomplish during her time on the council. They included passing an ordinance to prevent the opening of retail chain stores, starting a Cultural Arts Commission and creating a fund to buy land for the city. Conley Ulich said the city must also be concerned about protecting the environment, especially the water.

“I think pollution is a cancer that will continue to grow if we don’t do measures to cure it now,” Conley Ulich said.

Stern said Conley Ulich represents the future of Malibu, because she was not a resident when it became a city, and is not caught up in battles of the past.

“What this election was about was going forward and solving problems, not caring about what neighbor got angry at what neighbor in 1991,” Stern said.

The new council’s first regular meeting is on May 10. At that time, it will appoint new members to the various commissions.