Debate over Civic Center development gets dirty

The mudslinging over the planned Civic Center development took on a literal form Saturday when a local environmentalist threw a bucket of mud and water onto the architectural model for the project while it was on display at Malibu Colony Plaza.

Architect Ed Niles brought the model to the shopping center, and he, along with officials from the Malibu Bay Company, were on hand to answer questions and explain the development, which is planned for the Chili Cook-Off site.

Witnesses say Valerie Sklarevsky approached the display, near Diedrich Coffee, and dumped the muck on the model.

Niles said half the model was completely destroyed and some of its buildings were broken. He and Bay Company representative David Reznick said the crowd of people around the display yelled and cursed at Sklarevsky.

Niles, who may sue Sklarevsky in small claims court to recover the cost of repairs, said he was angry and frustrated, not only because of the damage to the model but also because, he said, Sklarevsky’s conduct interfered with his and Bay Company officials’ freedom of expression.

“She’s no different than the religious right,” he said.

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Both Bay Company officials and Niles declined to press charges against Sklarevsky, so sheriff’s deputies who were called to the shopping center did not arrest her for a possible misdemeanor offense.

Sklarevsky said she threw the mud and water, which she had taken from the egret marsh, to educate the community about what she says would be the development’s devastating environmental consequences.

“I call it civil disobedience, divine obedience,” she said. “I prayed about it. It was a spiritual act.”

Sklarevsky asked an acquaintance to videotape the event for $20, but Lyn Konheim of the Bay Company apparently outbid her, and he got the copy of the video.

Other than some help from the friend with the video camera, Sklarevsky said she acted alone, but she did ask two people from the Earth Trust Foundation to witness the event. Marcia Hanscom of the Wetlands Action Network was also there, but she denied any involvement.

“I just happened to be there at the same time,” she said.

Hanscom recently sought to supervise the wetlands delineation study of the Civic Center, but the City Council denied her a role in the study.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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