The fact that elections for City Council are a month away was obvious Monday night, as council members Joan House and Tom Hasse fielded what appeared to be politically driven flack about the proposed Civic Center development deal they presented to the council two weeks before. House, the largest vote-getter in the 1996 election, is a candidate. Hasse is not.
Candidate and Councilman Walt Keller’s motion to have the agreement reviewed by a consultant failed, and House’s motion on a public hearing schedule was approved 5-0, after House and Hasse addressed Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sam Hall Kaplan’s call for “due diligence” and no “back door deals.”
Hasse said City Manager Harry Peacock, an attorney from the Interim City Attorney’s office, and reputable appraiser Mason and Mason had been with him and House throughout the 11-month negotiations, and Hasse added he and House never had authority to strike a deal.
Noting the community’s apparent receptiveness to the deal, Hasse said, “Whenever I have Planning Commissioner Jo Ruggles and Malibu Times publisher Arnold York agreeing on anything, that’s consensus. That’s what happened in the last few weeks.”
House’s motion calls for speeding up finalizing the written agreement and having the first of at least three public hearings begin a month after that. The written agreement is expected to be finalized in a month.
Council members announced 10 of the 15 appointments they were allowed to make, as agreed at the council’s special code enforcement workshop last month. Mayor Pro Tem Harry Barovsky nominated contractor Roger Trivette, electrician Bob Hart and Marissa Coughlan. Carolyn Van Horn named Point Dume Mobilehome Park Homeowners Association Vice President Dusty Peak and attorney James Schoenfield. Keller appointed John Miller and John Maclay. Hasse named attorneys Todd Sloan and Ted Vaill. House named attorney Jeannette Maginnis.
Paul Major, one of the original advocates for the task force, told The Malibu Times he was disappointed in the choices. Peak and Coughlan had been appointed as friends of Code Enforcement officer Gail Sumpter, Major said. Only one of the 10 people he had suggested had been named, while the “hundreds” of people who had the courage to speak their mind, including Anne Hoffman of the advocacy group Malibu Citizens for Fair Zoning, had been ignored.
The council decided 4-0 to let the task force consider the code violation amnesty program, Barovksy having left by the time of the midnight vote.
Hasse’s motion to have all complaints in writing and of public record also passed 4-0.
School district grant
Although the 5-0 vote to give the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District $150,000 was made without discussion and without conditions, the staff report suggests 16 items the council might request in return. Requests range from a TV studio in a Malibu High classroom to deeding the Malibu Equestrian Center to the city. The council was to meet with the district yesterday (March 1).
Budget program priorities
A request by education activist Laure Stern for a $10,000 contribution to the youth foundation she founded highlighted budgetary fears. The city will lose the $750,000 it had as a new city next summer, and even before the $150,000 school district grant, will have spent $250,000 more than it has in the General Fund. On Hasse’s motion, council members voted 4-0 to prepare a “base” budget that would pay for things not already completed, and then consider the youth foundation grant, $16,000 for trash bins and implementation of the Parks Master Plan.
Resolving a year-long dispute between warring Carbon Beach neighbors Charles Perez and Gil Segel, Hasse crafted a compromise, approved 5-0, delineating the stringline between the two homes. The stringline is a rule of thumb for determining how far seaward homes and decks may project to the beach, and as Emily Harlow had said at a recent Planning Commission meeting, “Every foot makes a difference.”
Hasse’s motion draws the stringline midway between those delineated by the Planning Commission (based on the Coastal Commission definition) and that drawn by former Planning Director Craig Ewing based on the Zoning Ordinance.
New city attorney
City Manager Harry Peacock announced the council had chosen Santa Barbara attorney Steve Amerikaner as the new City Attorney. Amerikaner, a partner in the firm of Hatch and Parent, graduated from Harvard Law School in 1973. The firm’s client list includes the cities of Beverly Hills, Oxnard and Torrance; the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District; The Vons Companies; and Wells Fargo Bank.
Interim planning director
Peacock also announced Harry Engen, a retired Community Director of the Central Coast city of Atascadero, would be able to serve as Interim Planning Director beginning March 1. He would serve through May, working four days a week.