Letter: Defining Malibu

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Letter to the Editor

An enormous fight is looming. It will be the most important issue in Malibu. In the coming weeks, it will define our community. 

On one side are the good people of Malibu who just want their houses back after the fire. They want to cook in their own new kitchen, have their kids sleep in their own beds and watch a movie with the fireplace crackling. On the other side are unelected, unaccountable, unwise bureaucrats sitting at a desk at the LA County Fire Department creating arbitrary rules to make the efforts of their force more convenient.

The issue of water flow to fire hydrants will soon be the great topic of the day as the fire department keeps potentially hundreds of homeowners from rebuilding, based on their demand for easier work conditions in case they happen to show up, if there happens to be a fire. This will be a test of our community’s soul and heart. Do we really let government bureaucrats—who just failed on a catastrophic level—shut down the most basic of rights and needs of citizens: home ownership?

The fire department should have no business being in the home building business. They just proved, after all, they have gotten out of the home protection business. Not a single fire victim cares about firefighter water flow or any other fireman convenience. They just want their house back. This is a case of a tyrannical government bureaucracy completely out of touch with the people they are supposed to serve.

Every level of government should be working to allow fire victims—perhaps half of whom would not be victims if the fire department made minimal effort on Nov. 9—to rebuild under the guidelines in place when their houses were originally built. That would be a hallmark of a caring and reasonable society—not the permit denial threats and outrageous rebuild guidelines floating around at this time. Again: “Guidelines when they were originally built.” Funny how the fire department has become an advocate for homelessness.

We may soon witness the fire department (the agency, not individual well-meaning firemen) disallowing permits, or making outrageous demands on the finances and psyches of victims who are trying to cobble together the lifestyle they once had. Water flow, and any other perks or conveniences to the fire department, should have no bearing on rebuild guidelines, period. The fire department did not show up and will not show up. The fire department is absent when we need them, and then obstructs when we don’t.

Rick Wallace