Comedic dialog


    Driving home following the candidates’ forum at PDMS last week my neighbor and I compared notes and impressions. We were at first incredulous and then amused by the answers from our present council members regarding Malibu’s serious budget shortfall this year. For anyone not acquainted with this problem (most of us) it seems that our law enforcement agency wants a 45 percent increase in their contract. Our transportation licensing fees are diminishing by $700,000. FEMA still questions owing us $2 million; and who knows what the city’s continual litigation will cost. The council has yet to pass a parking tax at Zuma ($500,000) but they have unofficially agreed to supply $150,000 in emergency funds, that they don’t have, for our schools. The only candidate who spoke directly to Malibu’s improving its dismal revenues was Jeff Jennings, who answered a question about the 146-room Adamson Hotel Project that would have enriched our coffers by some $900,000 annually. Mrs. House replied that the extra 40 disallowed rooms could have endangered some of our coastal sage. Who knew? This brings us to our point. We begrudging believe Malibu must develop long-term economic independence through slow growth and compromise.

    Ms. Van Horn suggested and her co-members agreed that Malibu needs to go to Sacramento and Washington, DC., hat in hand, and beg as our poor little city can barely support itself. (Yes, all California schools need a huge transfusion of state money into their general funds.) But our imaginations ran with the laughable implications of this fiscal supplication….

    And the state answered, “And why have you such low revenues, Malibu? Couldn’t you have predicted these costs?”

    “Well, we don’t like any growth and we don’t like change. More businesses like retail shops, a hotel, restaurants, office buildings, condos or apartments would ruin what is special here. They’d encourage more young families and tourists. The beachgoers might spend more time and money here. People shouldn’t come to Malibu to be convenienced or to find moderate-income housing. We want to remain rugged, isolated, nature lovers, untouched, especially by traffic. We always wanted our citizens to do without. Our kids shouldn’t need playing fields or a teen center when they have the mountains and the beach and vacant land! Unfortunately, times are changing and the community wants its City Council to support it. But we’re a bit short. Can you slip us some cash?”

    “But Malibu, don’t you have an enormous distribution of empty land to develop as well as thousands of acres of protected parklands and beaches? Surely only a tiny portion would need be sacrificed for economic independence. A tasteful limited development plan will not turn you into Calabasas. Southern California will grow to 20 million people in a few years. Most cities will have no space at all and real economic needs. Grow up, Malibu. You have the opportunity to support your city with only slight modification to your “way of life.” The state is not interested in doling out money to a group of the luckiest people in California because their City Council belatedly acknowledged the changing needs of its citizens. Or should the state subsidize you so you can discourage an influx of new citizens through maintaining your minuscule density? We think not. You need to help yourselves, develop some moderation. And you are going to need to learn to share your space.”

    Seriously, how embarrassing it would be with all our natural riches, open land, and demands for independence and isolation, to entreat Sacramento to support our civic responsibilities. (Some council members and activists believe the city has few responsibilities beyond maintaining the status quo; but that’s another story.) As my neighbor and I agreed, it’s laughable.

    Candy Sindell