City Manager Salary Increase Approved

Reva Feldman

Malibu City Council voted unanimously, 5-0, Monday night to approve a $67,000 project to install five water bottle filling stations across the city. The construction of the project will be executed by Zusser Company, Inc.

One of the filling stations will be indoors at the Michael Landon Community Center, and four will be outdoors at each of the city’s four major parks: Malibu Bluffs Park, Legacy Park, Las Flores Creek Park and Trancas Canyon Park. 

“Most importantly, the four outdoor water bottle fillers will have dog fountains at the bottom of them as well,” Community Services Director Jesse Bobbett said. 

John Mazza, speaking outside his role as planning commissioner, objected to the price of the filling stations. 

“We are going to pay $13,000-plus for each water fountain, one of which is indoors,” Mazza said. “I googled it on Amazon. You can buy exactly the same unit—the same units we have in the hallway down here—made by Elkay for $880.”

Resident Marianne Riggins said she supported the installment of water bottle filling stations and said they would be a great addition to Malibu’s parks. 

“These are built for outdoor situations. They’re built for our marine environment, and they’re going to last a long time,” Riggins said.

She further emphasized that the filling stations would lead to a decrease in single-use plastic bottles in Malibu.

Council Member Mikke Pierson asked Bobbett for a breakdown of the costs. 

Bobbett said the price of the filling stations alone is a relatively small portion of the overall costs. The outdoor stations are approximately $4,000 each, he said, and the indoor station is approximately $2,000. Plumbing work, prevailing wage, insurance requirements and other costs result in the $67,000 price tag, Bobbett said.

According to Bobbett, the city did consider trying to install the stations in-house, but the work was too substantial for the city to take on in a timely fashion. 

The city asked the contractors to include the purchase of the equipment in the bid price, which means that the company, not the city, would be responsible for covering repair work needed in the event of any equipment failures that might arise.

New building standards will come into effect Jan. 1

City council voted to adopt the 2019 edition of the California Building Standards Code (CBSC), which will take effect statewide on Jan. 1, 2020. The code applies to the structural, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems of buildings, and is updated every three years. 

Changes will affect Woolsey Fire rebuilds that have not secured permits before they go into effect on Jan. 1.

The City of Malibu adopts the state codes as amended by Los Angeles County, according to Environmental Sustainability Director/Building Official Yolanda Bundy. Modifications to the CBSC are tailored to the needs of Malibu residents.

Examples of conditions that are specific to Malibu include earthquake faults, unstable hillsides, heavy mudflow, the marine environment, high temperatures and high winds, to name a few.

“In the absence of this urgency legislation, the city will risk having structures built that are not subject to standards designed for the region’s vulnerability to fire and seismic activity,” Bundy said.

Feldman salary increase approved

Four city council members voted to approve Malibu City Manager Reva Feldman’s salary increase to $248,000 per year during a brief public hearing that included no public comment and little discussion from council members. Council Member Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner abstained from voting. 

Per Feldman’s contract, the salary increase is contingent upon a positive evaluation that took place at a closed session hearing during a recent council meeting. The increase is retroactively effective as of May 3, 2019.

Council Member Skylar Peak motioned to confirm that Feldman received the positive evaluation. Council Member Rick Mullen seconded the motion.

Visitors center proposal goes back to the drawing board

There was some confusion Monday over a proposed letter of support for a Malibu visitors center, eventually resulting in a request for more clarification with no other actions taken.

Mayor Karen Farrer and Mayor Pro Tem Mikke Pierson introduced a motion that would authorize the mayor to send a letter of support for the establishment of a visitors center. Pierson clarified that this is not a project spearheaded by the city.

Mazza said it was unclear what will be written in the letter of support, and that there should be an explanation of what it accomplishes. “No. 1, I don’t know why you’re writing this letter. I’ve never seen it happen before,” Mazza said.

Local business owner and former Malibu Chamber of Commerce Chair Lenise Sorén said the visitors center would be in support of her nonprofit organization, Malibu Gives. The proposed location of the center is at the Park shopping center, where Sorén is a tenant. “This would be a safe place to support giving and retail, where we could support so many causes and local nonprofits, and beyond,” Sorén said. “A place where we could come together as a community and highlight the talent of this town, the best practices for visitors and tourists to create the maximum safety and efficiency of our city, both for visitors and locals. A place of gathering.”

Sorén said the center would not be a Chamber of Commerce facility, but that the chamber would be one of multiple tenants of the space. Whole Foods would be one of the other tenants, Sorén said.

Steve Uhring, speaking as a private citizen and not as a planning commissioner, said it would be risky for the city to endorse this project. “I don’t have a problem with the visitors center, but it’s not a Malibu Visitors Center,” Uhring said.

Uhring said the visitors center appears to be a program to drive traffic to Whole Foods—which is located at the Park—disguised as a visitors center. Uhring suggested that if the city were interested in having its own visitors center, that the center should be located in a city-owned area like the Lumber Yard.

Kraig Hill said the city should look into having its own visitors center, located somewhere on Pacific Coast Highway.

“I don’t think you can vote on this tonight,” Resident Judy Villablanca said. “I think this proposal is so vaguely outlined. I still don’t really have a good idea of what it is.”

The council members agreed that the idea needs further development and clarity. They motioned to continue the item to their next city council meeting in January 2020.