Outgoing commissioner expresses hope for city’s future

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Commissioner David Fox says he is hopeful after hearing that people have extended olive branches. He also says he learned about integrity from two of the ousted commissioners.

By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer

Planning Commissioner David Fox, who served the past few months as chair, said he was optimistic about the city’s future in his farewell speech to the community at Monday night’s Planning Commission meeting. He said he had heard about many olive branches that have been extended since April’s City Council election, and this gave him hope. The entertainment lawyer and father of one said the city was at an interesting point in its history.

“We voted overwhelmingly to defeat the [Malibu] Bay Co. Development Agreement, and then voted with similar conviction to re-elect its authors,” Fox said. “To me that means we’re either the most schizophrenic city in history or that we trust our current leaders, but only just so far.”

Fox is being replaced by traffic activist Carol Randall, who was appointed to the Planning Commission by Councilmember Jeff Jennings. Fox announced at a meeting in March that he would not seek a second term on the commission because his service had greatly reduced the amount of free time he had to spend with his family. Fox’s departure from the commission leaves John Sibert as the only member who was also on the commission when it unanimously recommended a rejection of the original Malibu Bay Co. Development Agreement in May of last year. Sibert was appointed by former Councilmember Joan House to the commission. If he were to remain, he would either need to be appointed by newly elected Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich or Mayor Sharon Barovsky, who said she expects her appointee, Joel Walker, to resign soon.

The commission’s rejection of the development agreement last year forced the city to go back into negotiation with the Malibu Bay Co. This eventually led to the drafting of the final agreement, which went before voters in the form of Measure M, and was rejected. But some say the commission’s rejection and the fact that Fox was the only member to publicly support Measure M, created a rift between the Planning Commission and the City Council. In December, Barovsky and Mayor Pro Tem Andy Stern fired their appointed commissioners, Deirdre Roney and Robert Adler, for allegedly violating the Brown Act by taking action on an item that was not on the agenda and for reportedly discussing it behind closed doors. But others, including Commissioner Richard Carrigan, who resigned in response to the incident, said the real motivation was revenge. Fox referenced this in his speech.

“[Roney and Adler] paid a high price for their independent thought,” he said, referring to the day the commissioners were fired as Bloody Monday. “They taught me a lot about integrity.”