2012 in review: January-June

Hundreds of people showed up to Taverna Tony and the Malibu Inn to celebrate the winners of the 2012 Malibu City Council election. Skylar Peak, John Sibert and Joan House won seats on the five-person council. Julie Ellerton / TMT


  • The year opened with the closing of the Beachcomber Restaurant on a Malibu landmark, the state-owned Malibu Pier in which the state had already put $6.2 million to refurbish. The Beachcomber restaurant, owned by the Ruby’s restaurant chain, had earlier closed the Ruby’s restaurant at the ocean end of the pier, and the state and the pier lessees were once again having problems making the Pier pay for itself. 
  • As of Jan. 1, new fishing restrictions began off Point Dume as California Dept. of Fish and Game began enforcement of a new marine protected area stretching from PT to El Matador State Beach. 
  • Malibu Little League season is about to open and the coaches are lining up to scout the local talent. 
  • Real estate sales remained sluggish in 2011 with a total of 156 sales made, well below the 10 year average of 212 homes sold each year. This year, 2012 was an entirely different story and the local housing industry showed robust signs of recovery with the number of sales rising quickly. 
  • Councilmember Jefferson Wagner, better known as Zuma Jay, bowed out after one term on the City Council stating that, “It takes a lot of time to be a council member” and “I won’t have that kind time over the next year or two.” However he didn’t rule out coming back and making another run at the council in 2014.


  • The Superior Court criminal jury trial of Sina Khankhanian, 28, whose car struck and killed 13-year-old Malibu local Emily Shane in 2010, ended in a hung jury when the jury couldn’t decide if he was guilty of murder or gross vehicular homicide and the case was put over for retrial later this year. 
  • The decision by Jefferson ‘Zuma Jay’ Wagner not to run for reelection meant that there were three open seats on the City Council and left John Sibert as the only incumbent running. With that kind of an opportunity six other candidates decided to make the run: Joan House, Hans Laetz, Andy Lyon, Hamish Patterson, Skylar Peak and Missy Zeitsoff.
  • The Malibu Times announced the winners of the 2012 Malibu Times Citizens of the Year Dolphin Awards: 

          – Kathy Cook, Director of St. Aidan’s pre-school and volunteer work 

          – Ani Dermenjian, realtor, former Chamber of Commerce President and       Veterans Day event sparkplug 

          – Georgia King, horsewoman, horse whisperer and child whisperer 

          – Benjamin Krasner, Youth Dolphin, piano virtuoso and charitable work 

          – Kurt Lampson, teacher, coach, mentor to several generations of young ocean and karate enthusiasts 

           – Bob and Jackie Sutton, 50-year Malibu residents, lifetime of community service and charitable participation, particularly Keep Christ in Christmas 

           – Lisa Szilagyi, teacher, runs special education class at Malibu, co-founder of the Hand in Hand program 

           – Pamela Conley Ulich and Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner for their public service as mayor and as members of the Malibu City Council and the endless hours they contributed 


  • There was a shakeup at the Malibu Chamber of Commerce and Rebecca Evans, the CEO, resigned her six-year tenure at the helm of the Chamber after a meeting with the Executive Committee of the Board. Although neither Evans nor Don Schmitz, chairman of the Chamber Executive Committee, would comment as to whether she left voluntarily or was pushed, Chris Evans, husband of Rebecca Evans, indicated to the Malibu Times that she did not leave voluntarily. Mark Persson took over as Interim Chamber CEO. 
  • The City of Malibu approved $250,000 worth of equipment including computers, monitors, printers, etc. for the new library in the Civic Center, and an additional $530,000 for additional library services which will be paid for out of County funds. 
  • The state, in a major cash crunch itself, changed the rules of the game and eliminated the local redevelopment agencies, whose share of the property tax had served as a bit of a cash cow in many municipalities, including Santa Monica. The elimination of Santa Monica’s Redevelopment Agency means less dollars for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, and it’s beginning to look like the change will cause the school district to be in a $10 million dollar hole. 
  • The privately financed, $20 million project to widen Broad Beach, which has been seriously eroded in recent years, passed overwhelmingly with 83% of the property owners agreeing to move ahead with the project and the assessments. 
  • In the freakiest of occurrences, a 32-year-old dishwasher employee of Guido’s restaurant went to take out the garbage and shortly thereafter stumbled back to the front door of the restaurant, covered in blood, collapsed and died. Initially the Sheriff’s Department erroneously thought he had been shot, but a later autopsy disclosed he had died of natural causes and the extensive blood came from a rupturing of lung tissue. 
  • The City Council, under growing community pressure over the changes in Malibu’s business climate, and the fear by many that the small Mom and Pops were being squeezed out, voted to develop a new ordinance that could require local shopping centers to preserve part of their tenant space for residents rather then visitors. 
  • Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission for 26 years, and a giant in the development of California coastal environmental policy, died at age 69 after a long battle with cancer. Douglas clashed frequently with the residents and City of Malibu and also many other municipal, county and governmental entities over the years in what he saw as an almost religious crusade to protect the coast, and what many others saw as a classic example of an overreaching bureaucrat with a contempt for the democratic process where the people, not the bureaucrat, should have the final say. 
  • The voters of Malibu went to the polls and re-elected Councilmember John Sibert, brought back former long-term Councilmember and Mayor Joan House, and in a startling move elected 27-year-old Skylar Peak, the youngest council member ever elected to office in Malibu. Peak, a lifetime Malibu resident, educated in local schools, not only won, but got the most votes in the election 
  • After hemming and hawing for many months the Malibu City Council finally took a position opposed to the Malibu Lagoon project, although their opposition amounted to naught as the lagoon restoration is a California State Parks project taking place on land owned by the state. Ultimately the project went ahead as planned and the old lagoon was torn out, to be replaced by another, (as the state claims) better designed and more effective lagoon.
  • A long-running lawsuit in which the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Santa Monica Baykeeper had sued the city of Malibu for violating the Federal Clean Water Act was finally settled for $6.6 million dollars. The city agreed to pay $750,000 to reimburse the environmental group for legal fees and committed to spending $5.6 million to updating 17 storm drains, which have been blamed for damaging local water quality. 
  • Local icon Dick Clark passes away at age 82. Clark lived in Malibu for more then 40 years, and volunteered his time and money to a host of different causes. 


  • Pacific Coast Highway almost claimed two fatalities when a car swerved across the center divider and collided violently with another car head-on. Fortunately, general contractor John Johannessen, on his way to a Malibu Chamber of Commerce board meeting, was close by and pulled the occupants out of the auto before it burst into flames. One occupant lived but the other didn’t make it and was pronounced dead at UCLA hospital.  
  • The “Get Malibu its own school district” movement seemed to get a bit of a boost from the Santa Monica-Malibu School Board, which voted to take a closer look at the possibility of having Malibu break away into its own school district. Rumor had it that some board members were beginning to think they may be better off without Malibu in the district.
  • The retrial of the Sina Khankhanian, the man who drove the car that killed 13-year-old Emily Shane in 2010, led to a jury verdict of guilty of 2nd-degree murder this time. Khankhanian, age 28, with a long history of mental problems, will be looking at a sentence of 16 years to life in state prison. 
  • The state lagoon project to tear out the old lagoon in Malibu Creek and replace it with a new improved lagoon cleared its final hurdle and with the Governor’s blessing, work and major protests were due to begin. 


  • Only a few days after the escrow had closed on the sale by Daniel and Luciana Forge of the venerable BeauRivage Restaurant, the new owners had a fire in the ceiling above the kitchen, causing an estimated $400,000 worth of damage and closed the restaurant for an undetermined time while repairs were being made. 
  • Among the many confrontations around the lagoon, strangest was the sudden death of a lagoon activist, Stephenie Glas, age 37, a City of Los Angeles firefighter and local community activist. The death was initially treated by the coroner as a potential suicide/homicide, although a coroner’s investigation later ruled it a suicide. 
  • Quick action by Malibu resident Michael Miller, while at the Arco gas station, in recognizing and alerting the Malibu sheriffs to a possible kidnapping in progress, may have saved the life of a 19-year-old young woman. The car was stopped by sheriff ’s deputies on Kanan Dume Road, the girl rescued and the alleged kidnapper arrested.  
  • The issue of lights on the Malibu High School playing field, adjacent to the campus, finally came to a decision before the City Council, which then approved the 70-foot lights for 61 nights per year. 
  • The California Attorney General Kamala Harris came to speak in Malibu and said that the federal and state authorities, and California voters, have a very different view of the medicinal marijuana shops. Recently both legal California pot shops in Malibu closed down, after the federal government rather heavy-handedly sent out warning letters threatening asset forfeitures. Owners of properties housing pot dispensaries were threatened with lawsuits unless they complied.