Council may support new land acquisition bond measure

Councilmember Sharon Barovsky frowns on warning of illegal guidelines from Sprint/PCS attorney regarding installation of cellular and other wireless communications facilities that would mar the appearance of the city’s “rural and natural residential” areas.

By Ken Gale/Special to the Malibu Times

In the wake of the Nov. 6 defeat of Measure K, the $15 million land acquisition bond proposal, city councilmembers at Tuesday’s meeting expressed support for another try next year.

“We’re not going to give up, we still think it’s a good thing for the community,” said Mona Loo, who helped lead the drive for Measure K.

Former mayor, John Harlow, a leader of the opposition Lily’s Cafe Steering Committee, said his group was “willing to become part of the process of planning” for a new bond measure. But he indicated his group would insist that ball fields and recreational uses take precedent over open-space usage in any new bond proposal.

Harlow also said the Lily’s Cafe group wanted Tom Hasse–the only city councilmember to oppose Measure K–to be a part of any working group for a new bond measure.

Hasse said he would support a new bond measure, but expressed doubt that any new working group of Malibu citizens could accomplish “the level of specificity” needed to get a two-thirds vote for it.

Measure K failed to get a necessary two-thirds approval by only about five percentage points.

Mayor Joan House said she favored a new bond measure, but stressed any working committee “should have as wide an array of people as possible, because you and I know that in order to get a two-thirds majority you don’t want an organized opposition.”

It was pointed out in order for a new bond measure to get on April’s ballot, it must be prepared and approved by the City Council by Jan. 9, at least 88 days before the election.

On another matter, House revealed that because of low passenger use, the city spent an average of $60 a day, per passenger for the Malibu shuttle bus between Westward Beach and Point Dume Headlands during the summer. According to an analysis by the Parks and Recreation Department, there were only 4.7 riders per day. The total cost to operate the shuttle for a year is $66,000.

The city began the shuttle in an agreement with the California Coastal Commission. The cost analysis was to be sent to the commission in hopes of coming up with a less expensive alternative.

In another matter, the City Council may have heard the beginning of what could become a drawn-out legal battle concerning installation of facilities throughout the city for cellular phones and other new wireless technologies.

The city has received applications for placement of several wireless facilities on public rights-of-way. Many of these are metal or concrete cabinets placed on sidewalks or along roadways.

A Sprint/PCS consultant told the council it wants to upgrade facilities in the city to “third-generation technology” for wireless telephones, wireless Internet, better paging services and streaming video.

But the boxes are unsightly, and in proposed guidelines for wireless facilities, the Public Works Department said many of the facilities as proposed, were “not in concert with the appearance of the city’s rural and natural residential neighborhoods.”

Noting the Federal Tele-communications Act of 1996 favors the development of new technological infrastructure; Sprint/PCS attorney John Flynn warned the guidelines “are not legal. If you do adopt these guidelines, you’re going to be creating troubles for yourselves, troubles you don’t need.”

Councilmember Sharon Barovsky replied to Flynn’s warning, saying, “I don’t think you come to council with a grenade in your teeth. And if you have a problem and you think we’re breaking the law, I’d like you to be really specific about it.”

The council referred the matter back to city staff, recommending they hold further meetings with utilities representatives.

In other matters, the council voted to change the speed limits on several streets from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour because of their narrow, residential nature and because they have no pedestrian walkways. The streets are Birdview Avenue, Boniface Drive, Fernhill Road, Portshead Road and Cross Creek Road. Most other streets in Malibu are posted at 30 miles per hour.

The council also agreed to hire a consultant to study the city’s costs for various policing services provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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

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